Council Update – June 27, 2017

While there were a number of items before Council last night, and a few warranted considerable debate, I will concentrate on the one that generated some interesting policy and procedural discussions – the approval of the comprehensive zoning bylaw. Council needed to identify what would be allowed to by pass one particular provision of Bill 73 – the 2 yr freeze on amendments. Under the new provincial legislation ( Bill 73), when a comprehensive zoning bylaw is approved by a municipality, no new site-specific zoning by-law amendments (Section 34) and no new minor variance applications (Section 45) can be submitted to the Town for a period of two (2) years, unless Council passes a resolution permitting a specific application. Staff mentioned that in some cases administering this new provision would be cumbersome and time consuming for staff and Council. My position is that elected officials have been advocating for a long time to have more authority when it comes to planning. This is a tool that the province has given to municipalities and we should utilize it. I believe that the only amendments or variances that should be exempt from the provision of bill 73 should be committee of adjustment and minor variance application . Some at the table spoke about how this could add red tape to those looking to bring their business to Town or develop property. Thus they wanted to add amendments to exclude Industrial/ Employment, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) bylaw amendment applications. However, I felt that this was not needed. This amendment to add this class passed 5-4 ( Councillor Gaertner, Abel, Humfryes and Myself opposed). While this provision is called a freeze, I don’t believe this an accurate description of what is being implemented. Once an Official Plan and/or Comprehensive zoning bylaw has been passed, no amendments may be submitted however, staff would be able to bring forward planning proposals for Council consideration, to determine, by resolution, if a formal planning application can be submitted and processed pursuant to the Planning Act. I don’t believe this will slow everything down. I think it is important for the Town to utilize this tool so that we as a Town will have the authority to make decisions about development applications that serve to better the community. The motion as amended passed unanimously.

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