UPCOMING PUBLIC HEARINGS
Public Hearing Information
1. What is a public hearing?
A public hearing is a public meeting, required by the Local Government Act of BC, held by a local government to allow affected citizens to provide their views to their elected representatives on the adoption of new or amended official community plan bylaws, zoning bylaws, phased development agreement bylaws and bylaws for the early termination of land use contracts.
2. Why is a public hearing required?
Local government elected officials have the authority to make decisions about how land will be used in their communities. These decisions can affect long-term plans for the entire community as well as neighbourhoods and individual properties. In order to balance their broad powers, elected officials are required to provide the opportunity for residents and other interested parties to share their views on the bylaws through a statutory public hearing process.
When a local government is creating or amending a bylaw for an official community plan, zoning bylaw, phased development agreement or to terminate a land use contract, a public hearing must be held after first reading of the bylaw and before third reading. Public hearings are not required for other types of bylaws and permits (Local Government Act Section 464).
3. Can a public hearing be waived?
A public hearing can be waived for certain zoning bylaws. For example, a hearing can be waived where an official community plan has been adopted and a proposed zoning bylaw is consistent with the official community plan (Local Government Act Section 464.2).
Notice is required in the newspaper and it may be mailed to owners and tenants depending on the number of parcels or persons affected (Local Government Act Section 467).
4. How is the holding of a public hearing delegated?
The holding of a public hearing is delegated to members of a council or regional district board. It is not necessary for all members of a municipal council or regional district board to attend the public hearing. A local government may delegate the holding of a hearing (by resolution or bylaw) to one or more councillors or board members (Local Government Act Section 469).
5. What is the public’s right to participate in the public hearing process?
At the public hearing, all persons who believe that their interest in property is affected by the proposed bylaw must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to be heard. This involves an opportunity to make a speech or presentation to the elected officials or to present a written submission (Local Government Act Section 465). Written comments can also be submitted after the SCRD Board’s passing of a resolution to hold a public hearing and before the close of the public hearing. The notice of public hearing provides details on how to submit comments.
6. How can the public inspect documents related to the public hearing?
Copies of the proposed bylaws, Board resolutions to delegate the holding of the hearing, and all reports, plans and other documents in the SCRD’s possession, that have been or will be considered by the SCRD Board, are available for inspection electronically on the SCRD website, or physically at the office of the SCRD located at 1975 Field Road, Sechelt, BC, between the hours of 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays), from the date of notification of the public hearing to the date of the hearing.
7. How is the public notified of the public hearing?
Notice of the public hearing must be given in the newspaper prior to the hearing. The notice must be in at least two consecutive issues of the newspaper, with the last publication to appear not less than three days and not more than 10 days before the public hearing. The notice must state:
- the time, date and place of the hearing;
- if the hearing is conducted electronically or by other communication facilities, the way in which the hearing is to be conducted by those means;
- in general terms, the purpose of the bylaw;
- the land or lands that are the subject of the bylaw; and
- the place, time and dates where the bylaw and related materials may be viewed (often the municipal hall or regional district office).
If the bylaw alters the permitted use or density of any area, then the notice must be mailed to owners and occupants within 100 metres that is specified in SCRD Planning and Development Procedures and Fees Bylaw. The requirement for individual mail-outs does not apply if 10 or more parcels owned by 10 or more persons are the subject of the bylaw alteration (Local Government Act Section 466).
The SCRD also posts information and notice about public hearings on its website.
8. What are the procedures at the public hearing?
Procedural rules may be established and announced by the Chair at a public hearing (Local Government Act Section 465). For example, the Chair may determine how long someone may speak or what process is to be followed if someone wishes to speak more than once.
A public hearing is not an information meeting to learn about the proposed bylaw. Members of the public are expected to learn about the bylaw and direct questions to SCRD staff before the public hearing. The purpose of a public hearing is for members of the public to present their views and opinions on the bylaw. The function of the Board at the public hearing is to listen to public representations, rather than to debate the merits of the bylaw, to make a decision on the bylaw, or to have a dialogue with the public.
More than one bylaw may be considered at a public hearing and more than one bylaw may be included in the public hearing notice.
9. How is a public hearing adjourned and resumed?
Sometimes more people want to speak than time allows. In that case, the public hearing can be adjourned and resumed at a specified future time and date. No further notice is required if an announcement is made at the public hearing as to the time, date, place, and means by which the hearing is to be conducted (i.e. in person and/or electronically or other communication facility) for the resumption of the hearing (Local Government Act Section 465).
10. What are the procedures after the public hearing?
A summary report of the representations made at the public hearing must be prepared for each bylaw and maintained as a public record. This report must be certified as fair and accurate by the person preparing it and, if applicable, by the person to whom the hearing was delegated. All written submissions received after the SCRD Board’s passing of a resolution to hold a public hearing and before the close of the public hearing will be attached as an appendix to the report.
After the close of the public hearing (either the same day or at a later meeting), the council or board may do one of the following without holding another hearing (Local Government Act Section 470):
- Adopt or defeat the bylaw;
- Alter and then adopt the bylaw (as long as the changes do not alter use, or increase density or decrease density without the consent of the landowner).
After the hearing, council or board members may not hear from or receive correspondence from interested parties relating to the bylaw except from the council or board members’ staff, lawyers and consultants.
11. How does the Board make a decision?
Each of the individual regional district board members must decide how they wish to vote on the bylaw. They may consider a broad range of input including information and views from the public, staff reports, financial implications, agency comments and other information.
12. How does the public attend a public hearing?
A public hearing of the SCRD is generally held simultaneously in-person in the Board Room of the SCRD office located at 1975 Field Road, Sechelt, and electronically via Zoom. The hearing can also be viewed via the live-stream on YouTube.
To attend the public hearing electronically, you will need to run the ZOOM app on your computer or device or dial in from a telephone. Click here to install the ZOOM app.
To join the meeting on the date of the public hearing please click on the Zoom link on the applicable public hearing at the top of this page. Please note that you can only join the meeting when it is live. If you see “Please wait for the host to start the meeting”, please stand by.
To join the meeting via telephone only, dial 1-778-907-2071 or 1-647-558-0588, and when prompted, enter the webinar ID (found on the applicable public hearing at the top of this page under the “To Join and Speak in the Public Hearing” column). Note, if you are connected by phone press *6 to unmute yourself to ask a question.
13. INSTRUCTIONS FOR PARTICIPATION AT A PUBLIC HEARING
If you pre-registered to speak, you will be called on by the Chair. Please wait for your turn.
If you did not pre-register, but wish to speak, please select the ‘Raise Hand’ button in the webinar to indicate that you wish to speak:
a. If you’ve signed in from a pc/device, you can click the 'Raise Hand' button.
b. If you are dialed in on a telephone only, press *9 (STAR NINE) to raise your hand.
If you are participating using the Zoom app, a member of staff will reach out to you in the chat to advise you that you have been added to the speakers' list.
If you are participating by telephone only, you will be added to the list. As staff can only identify you by your telephone number, the Chair will state “The participant calling in from 740-5555 is up next,” when it is your turn to speak. Please listen for your phone number.
Be patient, although there may be several speakers, everyone will have an opportunity to speak.
When the Chair calls on you to speak (by name or by your telephone number if you called in) you will be given the opportunity to address the meeting – you will also have to unmute your microphone when prompted.
Please begin by stating your full name for the record – if you do not, the Chair will ask you to provide this information.
- After you have spoken, staff will lower your electronic hand (if you have not already done so). If you wish to address the hearing again, please select the ‘Raise Hand’ button again, and staff will follow the same procedure.