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Advisory Planning Commission may be disbanded

After much deliberation city council decided at its regular council meeting Tuesday to bring forward a bylaw to disband the Advisory Planning Commission.

It also advised staff to bring back a report outlining additional public consultation options for all development and land-use planning matters.

Reading from a report from planning staff, Coun. Sue Zacharias said while the commission considers proposed land-use bylaws or permits, and over the years has been seen as playing an important role to council, its legitimacy has been questioned.

“Membership and recruitment, commitment of members, quorums, and research by members into the land-use applications before them, and general interest in the commission are some of the issues the APC faces,” Zacharias said.

Staff polled various cities to see how they are addressing APCs. Some had APCs, some had had them, some didn’t have them anymore, and some were in the process of thinking about forming one because of overwhelming participation.

“We’ve come to this point, but there will be a process to find better ways to deal with development and land-use planning matters,” Zacharias said.

Coun. Ivan Bonnell described the APC as a discretionary authority that was established in the community in the 1960s and continued through the years.

“Changes in development, changes in planning subdivisions, and other development processes also have public input on them. Given the fact that all those changes have been happening, the current structure of the APC has been diminishing,” Bonnell said, adding it has nothing to do with anyone in particular.

Opposing the disband, Coun. Surinderpal Rathor said he’s heard from people that the APC should remain in place.

If recruitment is the problem, he suggested that council members should take it on themselves to recruit members, and that refresher courses be offered for members on the APC.

“I personally feel we should not abandon it,” he said.

Cook responded that the decision wasn’t arrived at easily.

“This has come about because over the last two years we have very few meetings of the APC that had a quorum and sometimes we only had two people,” she said, adding the APC has only been able to forward notes of meetings to council because it can’t make recommendations without a quorum.

Bonnell added he doesn’t think disbanding the APC will be a loss because there will still be a number of wide open opportunities for input on development applications.

“The mechanism we had in the past was the APC. When I was back in office a decade ago we were considering disbanding it then and it just never happened,” he said, adding that council and the public have access to all the documents that come before the APC.

In the end Bonnell, Zacharias, Coun. Danica Hughes voted to disband. Rathor was opposed.

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