Public hearing process remains unchanged
Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 06:00 am
In a response to a Notice of Motion presented by Coun. Rolly Ashdown last month, Rocky View County (RVC) administration recommended the county maintain the current process of holding public hearings prior to first reading of a bylaw.
“This is the second time in this council’s term that the question of public hearing process has been brought before council by Notice of Motion,” said RVC’s manager of legislative services, Angie Keibel.
A prior motion was brought forward by then-councillor Greg Boehlke in June 2015, which failed at the time. Due to the timing allowed with the current process, council and the public are given a full week to review the report and proposed bylaw – which, according to administration, is an effective system.
In addition, administration’s report indicated automatic first readings could give the public the perception that “some level of approval” had already been given to the application by the time of the public hearing.
“It is a more efficient use of administration time, in that administration needs to prepare only one report and presentation,” Keibel said. “The risk of a successful judicial review is also lessened as council will have a full grasp of the matter before making any decisions on the bylaw.”
Ashdown argued each reading should be separate and distinct – and updating the county’s process would benefit applicants as well as administrations and council. However, his motion failed by a vote of 4-5, with councillors Liz Breakey, Jerry Arshinoff, Margaret Bahcheli, Lois Habberfield and Bruce Kendall in opposition.
“I think it’s important for the applicant to get some information – they (currently) get no information, other than one day in front of council, and that’s a problem,” he said. “I think it saves time, rather than costs time. I can’t imagine we can’t get through first readings with a brief report in an extremely quick time basis.”
A revision was approved by council to a road closure bylaw, which was requested by Land Titles for the bylaw to be endorsed. The closure area on the bylaw showed a difference in size from the survey plan completed by the applicant and registered with Land Titles.
The amended description received second reading, but due to opposition from Ashdown, unanimous permission was not obtained to proceed to third reading. The item will be back before council on April 25 for final reading.
Updates to RVC’s Procedure Bylaw to include more consistent, non-contradictory definitions, a streamlined “motions” section and clarified procedure for the public hearing and bylaws sections were tabled by RVC council.
“The new Procedure Bylaw contains other, minor changes intended to clarify areas of confusion or better reflect actual procedure,” Keibel said.
These amendments will be brought back for council’s consideration at a future meeting.