At Tuesday’s very successful rally I presented a councils responsibility under the municipal charter when they are dealing with an application to rezone property from its designation in the Official Community Plan (OCP).
Once an application is received by council it is then directed to planning and public works to investigate what change in zoning is being requested. If staff believe there is reason enough to refer the decision to council the application to rezone is placed on the council agenda. At which time, council are required to publicly review the application to rezone, if they feel it should go to a public hearing then the only motion that can be made is “the application has merit, I move that it proceed to a public hearing and effected property owners be duly notified.” No debate for or against the application is made by council until the public hearing. For a member of council to speak publicly prior to the public hearing, whether they are for against the rezoning, is a violation of public process under the charter.
When I attended the public hearing for the waterslide on June 29, one councillor publicly announced that prior to the hearing, June 26 she had “hundreds of people supporting the waterslide at the Farmers’ Market.” Then the question that I regret not asking at the hearing was whether that councillor committed their support for the waterslide before the public hearing on the June 29? If that councillor did, then the decision of council that evening should be held over until the matter is investigated by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
A violation of public process occurred again when the towers at the south end of the city was put before council for rezoning. When presented by staff for council’s direction, it was stated by a councillor and recorded in the press words to this effect, “this is a great project for city, we need more low cost housing.” This councillor clearly indicated which way she was going to vote on the application before the affected neighbouring property owners were even officially notified? Therefore the comment and following motion was totally out of order and should have been challenged by the mayor. He should have advised council not to express whether they’re for or against the application has merit until public hearing, either while in the council seat or out in the public prior to the hearing.
I stated at the public hearing on June 29 that council needed experienced professional guidance on their responsibilities as set out in the Municipal Charter. Their mistakes in improper procedures could cost all of us. Does the Eckhardt dormitory come to mind?