qathet Regional District will be rescheduling planning and land use public hearings postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and provincial health orders.
In reviewing a recommendation at the July 30 regional board meeting, city director George Doubt questioned the voting procedure, which was restricted to Electoral Area A, B, C and D directors, who form the regional district’s planning committee.
“Public hearings are not the purview, completely, of the planning committee,” said Doubt. “It’s a board decision and the Local Government Act supports that every director should have one unweighted vote on procedures of the board.”
The motion read: that the board support the proposed procedure for holding a public hearing by electronic means and that staff be directed to reschedule the public hearings that were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and provincial health orders.
Electoral Area A director and board chair Patrick Brabazon said all of the regional district’s hearings have been land use hearings.
“We’ve held public meetings, we’ve held open houses, we’ve held information meetings, but hearings, as defined in law, all of our hearings have dealt with land use, which is why it’s worded the way it is,” said Brabazon. “If we wish to broaden it, I suggest that’s a subject for a different evening.”
Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said Doubt had brought up something he had not thought about when the issue came before the planning committee. He said the board did not have any public hearings outside of the planning committee and perhaps it would be good to send the matter to the committee of the whole for discussion.
Gisborne said he’d like to hear from manager of planning services Laura Roddan about how public hearings for the planning committee would be impacted if a decision was delayed by a month.
Roddan said the report and recommendation was only for public hearings on planning and land use bylaws. She said the regional district had been holding off for four months on public hearings and she had some concerns with putting them off.
Brabazon said Roddan was suggesting a sense of urgency to get this particular motion through and get on with the regional district’s land use hearings.
Doubt said he understands the sense of urgency where a bylaw has been waiting for some time to go to a public hearing. He said there are two ways it could be fixed. One would be to refer the motion to the committee of the whole meeting and discuss it there, and the other would be to make a motion to amend the motion before the regional board to say the procedure is for holding public hearings for planning committee purposes, and that would be clear.
“I would simply suggest that adding the words public hearing for planning service purposes would solve the problem,” said Doubt.
Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick moved an amendment that the board support the proposed procedure for holding planning and land use public hearings by electronic means, and that staff be directed to reschedule the public hearings postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and provincial health orders.
Electoral Areas A, B, C and D directors carried the amended motion.