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Posted: June 4, 2015

DOI council defines ALR public consultation process

By Chris Conway

A routine resolution to give readings to the proposed Development Approvals and Fees Bylaw sparked a council discussion about how the District of Invermere will fulfill a public consultation promise from the recent official community plan (OCP) process.

During the council meeting on Tuesday (May 28) Director of Development Services Rory Hromadnik briefed council that the purpose of the bylaw was to address some housekeeping matters arising from the OCP adoption.

Hromadnik stated that the highlights of the new bylaw addressed the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) exclusion process, boundary expansion and Temporary Use Permits. He added that there is no change in fees in the new bylaw.

Coun. Paul Denchuk
Coun. Paul Denchuk

Councillor Paul Denchuk asked for an explanation of the public consultation process for ALR exclusion.

Hromadnik replied that the process is triggered by an application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). The district receives a referral and there’s a requirement for the district to make comment on it. The ALC has its own process that includes posting a sign on the property and notification requirements.

“We were absent on that process,” said Hromadnik. “In our requirements now, we have to advertise in the paper. There’s no public hearing and we notify everybody within 100 metres. The notice says when council will consider a recommendation for ALR exclusion.”

Denchuk said council spoke about this during the OCP process and that his recollection was that there would be a public hearing attached to the process. “I’m a little surprised to see that there’s no public hearing involved in this process,” said Denchuk. “It gets advertised three to 14 days before we adopt the resolution, that’s not a lot of time for any sort of public input.”

Hromadnik responded that the policy within the OCP didn’t talk about a mandatory public consultation and referendum process.

Denchuk stated that council did speak about a public hearing for ALR land exclusion and that is something he wanted to see in the new bylaw. Coun. Greg Anderson said he recalled that too.

Chief administrative officer Chris Prosser advised council that a public hearing process is specifically for rezoning applications attached to a specific land use decision under the provincial legislation. He explained that a public consultation is a generic term that can be wide open for interpretation by council on how they want to use it.

Prosser recommended that if council wanted to be more specific on what that meant in this case it can’t be tied to Section 890 of the Local Government Act which specifies public hearing processes for rezoning applications only.

“We just have to define what a public consultation process is for the ALR and put that in the definition section of the bylaw,” said Prosser. “You’d have to term it a public meeting, not a public hearing. It’s a non-binding public hearing in essence.”

Mayor Gerry Taft
Mayor Gerry Taft

“Some of the confusion is that 99.9% of the time if an ALR exclusion is successful you’d then need to come back for rezoning and there would be a public hearing at that point,” stated Mayor Gerry Taft. “I think there was a little bit of confusion when the comment was made that there would be a public hearing associated with that land but the question is at what stage. Is it at the ALR removal stage or is it at the rezoning stage?”

Taft stated that if council were to have a quasi-public hearing at the ALR application stage it would not be a public hearing as in the case of land use decisions. It would be for gathering public opinion but it would be a little bit different. “I don’t think we would really want to call it a public hearing.”

Prosser stated that under the Local Government Act a public hearing is specific to collecting opinions of those directly affected in regards to a re-zoning application for a change of density or land use. “So a public hearing is where you sit and listen and don’t ask questions back and forth,” he said. “Whereas with an ALR exclusion process, because there’s going to be another public hearing at a later date, at this stage it is a good time to have public input and public feedback through a discussion based process.”

“I think that would suffice if that’s the process laid out for us,” said Denchuk. “I think it’s necessary at this stage though and it is what we told the public during the OCP process.”

Prosser suggested writing that into the public consultation definition in the bylaw.

Council voted unanimously to amend the proposed bylaw to add the definition as discussed. Council then voted unanimously to give the amended bylaw three readings. The new bylaw will come back to the next meeting of council for formal adoption.


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