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Penticton to look at streamlining development variance process

Staff is looking at cutting council out of deciding on some variances
City Hall. (File photo)

The City of Penticton will be looking to streamline the development process for smaller variance applications.

Staff brought forward the request to begin developing amendments to the city’s bylaws to allow for minor development variances to be dealt with entirely by the staff instead of needing to go before council.

Currently it is an average eight-week process for an application to get through council approval.

One example of a variance that could be dealt with by the staff instead of going to council is to allow a 1.4 metre tall retaining wall instead of the 1.2 metre height in the city’s bylaws.

In the end, council voted to get staff to begin the process, with Coun. James Miller the sole vote in opposition.

Coun. Amelia Boultbee raised the concern that the despite the intention being to shorten the time, the ability to appeal a decision and force it back to council could cause further delays instead.

Staff responded by saying that there was one proposal over the past few years that went through similar challenges city staff and council decisions.

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The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has adopted similar changes to their bylaw, and Summerland staff will be presenting an amended bylaw in the coming weeks.

Over the last three years, according to staff, there were 92 development variances that went before council, with 84 of them approved and an estimated 72 that could have met the criteria to be delegated to staff.

The amendments being considered could also allow for the city not to require public notifications for some variances.

Miller questioned the necessity for such changes to the city’s bylaws.

“We’re paid to be here, that’s our job,” he said.

The amendments to the city’s bylaws will return before council at a later date for another vote to be either implemented or rejected.

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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