See the Public Notice schedule for specific Public Hearing information and documents.
When is a Public Hearing required?
- The requirement to hold a Public Hearing is legislated under S. 464-470 of the Local Government Act
- Hearings are held for Official Community Plan (OCP), Zoning and Land Use Contract amendments, and phased development agreement bylaws between first and third readings.
- The Public Hearing process, which includes submitting letters prior to the Hearing or speaking at the Hearing itself, is the only opportunity for public input prior to adoption of a bylaw. The Hearing is to solicit opinion only – not for discussion or debate. Council must attend the hearing with an open mind.
- Public Hearings may be waived for zoning amendment bylaws that are consistent with the OCP. Waived Public Hearings must be advertised as per the Notification section below.
- More than one bylaw can be on a Public Hearing agenda.
- OCP and zoning amendments may be read a third time and adopted at the same meeting – at the Regular Council Meeting immediately following the Public Hearing or a subsequent Regular Council Meeting. There is no requirement for a full day between third reading and adoption as with other bylaws. Some zoning amendments, however, may have to be sent to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure after third reading and prior to being adopted. All zoning amendment bylaws involving a property within 800 metres of the closest highway intersection must be signed off by the Ministry.
- Public Hearings must be advertised in accordance with s. 466 of the Local Government Act.
- Ads must be placed in at least 2 consecutive issues of a newspaper, the last ad no more than 10 days and no less than 3 clear (i.e. not counting the hearing dates) days prior to the hearing. The date of the hearing is counted for the 10 day maximum. (S. 25 of the Interpretation Act explains the calculation of time.)
- The ads must state the date, time and location of the hearing; describe the subject lands, the purpose of the bylaw and when and where copies of the bylaw may be inspected. Copies of the Public Hearing Agenda Package and all related material are available for viewing at the Planning & Development Department on the 2nd floor of Municipal Hall.
- If the Public Hearing is for a zoning amendment that changes the use or density the ad must include a map, including road names.
- Notification letters, stating all of the above, must be sent to all owners and tenants, if any, of properties with 30 metres of the subject property 10 days prior to the Public Hearing.
- Notification letters to surrounding property owners are not required if the bylaw includes 10 or more properties owned by 10 or more owners.
- The District must make a reasonable effort to mail/deliver the letters.
- The court may not quash (i.e. declare invalid) a bylaw if the owner/tenant did not see or receive the notice if there was a reasonable effort to deliver it, was present at the Hearing or can be shown to have been aware of it even if the notice was not seen or received.
- If the property that is the subject of the Public Hearing has a legal description, notices must be posted on the property 10 days prior to the Public Hearing and are to be removed the following day. The applicant/property owner must sign a declaration that the signs have been posted. District-wide amendments do not require signage.
- Any form of written submission (letter, email or written submission at the Hearing itself) becomes part of the public record and agenda package, a hard copy of which is available for public viewing at the Municipal Hall and an electronic version posted on the Disitrict’s website.
- The Chair opens the Hearing and reads the statement, names the bylaw(s) being amended, when it was advertised, states that no decision will be made at the hearing – that Council is present to listen, not to discuss or debate – and that no further information or representations can be received or considered by Council after the Public Hearing is terminated. The Chair also asks speakers to state their name for the record. This record becomes public and will be posted on the District’s website following the Hearing.
- The Director of Community Services summarizes the bylaw.
- Letters received after the agenda has been posted are submitted to Council or read into the record.
- The Chair asks if anyone in the audience would like to speak.
- The applicant may speak first, but has the same status as anyone else in the audience.
- Speakers may ask questions of the applicant with the Chair’s permission.
- Speakers will not be given the option of speaking twice unless everyone else has had the opportunity to speak a first time.
- Repetitive oral submissions cannot be discouraged or not permitted, i.e. multiple speakers may state the same thing.
- Council may ask speakers and staff for points of clarification.
- Members of the audience may declare a “point of order”, defined as interjection during a meeting by a member, who does not have the floor, to call the attention of the Chair to an alleged violation or breach of the meeting’s rules of order, but it is only recognized at the discretion of the Chair.
- Any submissions submitted during the Hearing are available for public viewing during the Hearing.
- In the case of lengthy written submissions at the Hearing – e.g. a complex written technical submission from the applicant or a member of the public, the Hearing may be adjourned by the Chair after announcing the date, time and place for the hearing to reconvene. The Chair may also extend the time after the Hearing that these lengthy submissions may be received.
- The Chair closes the Hearing when there are no further comments from the audience or questions from Council.
- If it is decided to adjourn and continue the hearing at a later date, the Chair must state the time, date and location prior to adjourning the Hearing. No further public notice is required. If the Hearing is adjourned and to be continued with no date, time or location available or stated, the entire notification process must be repeated.
After the Hearing:
- Council may not consider any new information or speak with the public about the bylaw following the Public Hearing, but they should not consider themselves “sequestered”; some informal comments or representations to individual Councillors are sometimes unavoidable.
- Council may, however, receive reports from staff, consultants and legal counsel. These reports must relate to matters of detail and clarification of issues that arose from the Hearing regarding, for example, traffic impacts, building height, required covenants, etc.
- Council owes a “duty of care” to prohibit members of the public from speaking during the Public Comment section of Regular Council Meetings about any bylaw that has received a Public Hearing but is not yet adopted.
- A Councillor that was not present at the Public Hearing may still vote on third reading and adoption of the bylaw as long as they have been supplied a copy of the Public Hearing report or received a verbal summary from an officer of the District.
- Council may adopt or defeat the bylaw without notice (e.g. in the Regular Council that follows the Public Hearing) as long as the use is not altered, the density is not increased, or the density is not decreased without the owner’s consent.
- Any new information received by Council, except those noted above, must prompt a new Public Hearing. For example, if someone spoke to the issue during Public Comment at a subsequent meeting but prior to adoption, or unless changes to the bylaw considered were based on information/reports that resulted from the Public Hearing.