School Tours FAQ

School Tours - Frequently Asked Questions

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Guided Tours

How far in advance do I need to book?​​

The majority of school groups visit between March and June. We recommend booking as soon as possible to ensure you are able to get the date you wish to visit.

As there are fewer visits by school groups in the fall or winter, it is often easier to make a reservation.​

Do you offer tours in languages other than English?

Yes. We offer tours in English and French year-round. Other languages may be possible depending on the availability of staff. Please contact the Parliamentary Tour Program for more information.​

When is the best time to visit?

The Parliamentary Tour Program delivers tours to over 20,000 students each year.  The majority of school groups visit between March and June.  We encourage teachers to consider visiting in the fall or winter when the tour schedule has more openings and the Parliament Buildings are not as crowded.

The Summer Tour Program begins after the May long-weekend. This program includes an historical character portrayed by one of the staff in the Parliamentary Players Program.​

How long is a guided tour?

Tours last approximately 45 minutes.  Plan to spend a additional 30 minutes in the building if your group will be observing debates at the end of the guided tour.

Please note that some areas of the Parliament Buildings that are normally included on the guided tour are not accessble when the Legislative Assembly is sitting and that tours may be re-routed, shortened, or cancelled at any time due to Parliamentary activity and events.​

​​What topics are discussed during a guided tour?

Guided tours provide an overview of the history of the Parliament Buildings and an introduction to the legislative process.

If there is a topic of specific interest to your class, please let your tour guide know prior to the start of the tour.​  

How many people can I bring on a tour?

In order to ensure the best experience for your students, the maximum number of people per tour is 40 (including accompanying adults).  We ask that groups of more than 40 people book additional tours.

Do we need a certain number of chaperones for our tour?

No.  Although we require the teacher to accompany the students at all times, we do not require chaperones to be present for the tour. 

If chaperones would prefer not to take the guided tour, we strongly encourage them to take a break and to rejoin your group at the conclusion of your visit.​

Observing Debates

Is it possible to observe debates from the public gallery?

Yes. If the Legislative Assembly is sitting on the day of your visit, the Parliamentary Tour Program can arrange for seats in the Public Gallery at the conclusion of your guided tour. 

Your tour confirmation letter will state if seats have been reserved for your group.

School groups in the Public Gallery are limited to 40 people at a time as all other seats are reserved for guests of MLAs, members of the press and the general public. 

Due to the number of school groups who wish to observe debates, each group is allotted 20 minutes in the Public Gallery.

Please note that most seats in the Public Gallery have partially-obstructed views.

When does the Legislative Assembly meet?

Please consult the Parliamentary Calendar on the Legislative Assembly’s website for the most up-to-date schedule and hours of the Legislative Assembly.​

When is Question Period?

Question Period occurs from Monday to Thursday.

For the current session of Parliament, Question Period is scheduled as:

  • Monday and Wednesday - shortly after the start of the afternoon sitting at approximately           2:00 pm.

  • Tuesday and Thursday - shortly after the start of the morning sitting at approximately        10:30 am.

Only groups that have reserved tours at the following times will observe parts of Question Period from the Public Gallery:

  • Monday and Wednesday: 1:00 pm and 1:30 pm​​
  • Tuesday and Thursday: 9:30 am and 10:00 am​

What will be discussed in the Legislative Assembly at the time of our visit?

Outside of the scheduled daily business of the House (such as Question Period) and Private Members’ Time (Monday mornings), the major part of the day’s sitting is spent debating legislation (bills) proposed by the government or motions. It is the responsibility of government to determine what will be discussed at each sitting.

Visit the Legislation section of our website to see what bills have been introduced during the current session of the Legislative Assembly.

What are the rules of the Public Gallery?

security_warnings.gifAll visitors must pass through a security scanning station (similar to those at an airport) before entering the Public Gallery.

Backpacks, notebooks, pens and pencils, cameras, cell phones and all other electronic devices are not permitted and must be left at the security station.​

Visitors must refrain from talking, reading, applauding, or taking notes while in the Public Gallery.

Photography is not permitted in the Public Gallery.

Visitors must rise during the Speaker’s Procession and the reading of prayers.​

​Parliamentary Calendar

When is the Parliamentary Calendar released?

The Parliamentary Calendar for the year is typically released in early January. 

Please be aware that the Parliamentary Calendar can be changed at any time. The Calendar that appears on the main page of Legislative Assembly’s website is the most up-to-date listing for sittings of the Legislative Assembly. 

Please note that staff of the Parliamentary Tour Program do not have any information about future sittings of the Legislative Assembly until the calendar is released and it appears on the website.​

​Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs)

Will our class be able to meet with an MLA?

The Parliamentary Tour Program notifies your school's MLA and invites them to meet with your class. We will use your school's postal code to determine which MLA to contact.

As the Members have very busy schedules, we cannot guarantee that they will be available to meet with your class. 

The Parliamentary Tour Program is pleased to take a digital photograph of your group with your MLA. Please complete the Photo Consent Form and bring it with you on the day of your visit.​ Should your MLA not be available, a group photo is still available to you should you desire so.

Who is my school's MLA?

The Parliamentary Tour Program uses your school's postal code to determine which MLA to contact.

Use the MLA Finder to determine your school's MLA and to learn more about them.​

Are there any programs for teachers offered by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia?

Yes.  The Legislative Assembly offers an annual British Columbia Teachers’ Institute on Parliamentary Democracy for teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

The Teachers' Institute is an intensive professional development opportunity for teachers of social studies and related subjects for grades K through 12.  Teachers are invited to come to the Parliament Buildings in October and learn about parliamentary democracy and the political process.​

Other Questions

How long does it take to get from the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay to the Parliament Buildings?

The drive to downtown can take as long as 1 hour from the time of your arrival at Swartz Bay.​

​Is there public parking at the Parliament Buildings?

No. Street parking and pay-parking lots are located nearby. For more information, please visit our Visitor Parking page.​

What should we do when we arrive for our tour?

Please arrive at least 10 minutes prior to your tour and check in at the School Group Entrance at the back of the Parliament Buildings, on the East side of the Legislative Library. ​​

Are the Parliament Buildings wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the Parliament Buildings are accessible for visitors in wheelchairs and those with limited mobility or young children in strollers. Please follow the ramp on the west side of the Main Entrance steps and ring the buzzer for assistance.​

Is there a place for our students to leave their belongings during the tour?

No, the Parliamentary Tour Program is not able to store bags and backpacks. Students are encouraged to leave their belongings on the bus, or will have to carry them while on tour.​  If your group has seats in the Public Galleries, a backpack storage area is available upon entrance.

Is there a place for our students to eat lunch at the Parliament Buildings?

There is not a place for groups to eat inside the Parliament Buildings, however groups are welcome to order lunches from the Parliamentary Dining Room to enjoy outside. Please visit the Dining Room's website for more information.​​

Is there a lost and found at the Parliament Buildings?

Yes. Please contact Legislative Assembly Protective Services at 250-387-5516 if anyone in your group has lost anything.

Are there items that should not be brought to the Parliament Buildings?

Yes. The following items are prohibited in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia: aerosol containers; non-aerosol sprays (prescriptions for medical needs are permitted); any pointed object, i.e., knitting needles and letter openers (pens and pencils are permitted); electric stun guns, martial arts weapons or devices; guns, replica guns, ammunition and fireworks; knives of any size; mace and pepper spray; and razors and box cutters.

The Legislative Assembly Protective Services are authorized to make exceptions if a prohibited item is determined to be necessary and required to serve child care, medical or other special needs. If you have questions, please call the British Columbia Legislative Assembly Protective Services at 250-387-5555.​

 On This Page

​​Guided Tour​s
Observing Debates
​Parliamentary Calendar
​Members of the Legislative Assembly
​Learning Resources
​​Other Questions