Saanich staff are preparing to begin hosting electronic public hearings by June, says Mayor Fred Haynes. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich looks at moving to electronic public hearings in June

Participation would be by phone, written submissions still welcome, mayor says

Saanich is looking to technology as the answer to resuming public hearings.

The District cancelled all public hearings along with most other in-person meetings on March 17 until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, on May 1, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing released a statement allowing local governments to hold public hearings electronically during the pandemic so construction and development may continue.

During an electronic meeting on May 4, Saanich councillors discussed two development permit applications and were given the option to support the applications and waive a public hearing.

READ ALSO: Saanich residents wary of waiving public hearings during the pandemic

At that meeting, municipal staff explained that though Saanich has never done it, the Local Government Act permits waiving a public hearings for a rezoning application as it’s in line with the Official Community Plan. Staff suggested the option could be considered due to the pandemic.

After lengthy discussions about both applications and residents’ concerns, council concluded residents should be given the opportunity to provide input and sent both to a public hearing, Mayor Fred Haynes said.

He added that even if council had waived the public hearing, residents would have been given two weeks to write in and have their opinions considered by council.

READ ALSO: Saanich cancels public hearing on unrelated occupancy limits amid COVID-19 spread

The province is allowing individual local governments to determine their own method for public hearings. Residents will also be provided with instructions for participating electronically and councils will continue to accept written submissions.

On May 7, Haynes explained that Saanich is working on a phone-in option for public hearings moving forward. Residents will be able to call-in to public hearings, queue up on the line and have their voices heard. He’s expecting these hearings to draw more attendees as contributing by phone is more inclusive and less time-consuming for residents.

READ ALSO: Saanich looks at relaxing farm stand ban

Haynes is “very pleased” to see electronic public hearings be allowed as residents “have a right to be heard but also to hear others at the meetings.” He expects phone-in public hearings to begin in early June and said instructions and other updates will be made available to residents beforehand.

Haynes also noted that council is also looking at “carefully” returning to municipal hall for meetings on May 25 though the facility would remain closed to the public. With council back in the chambers, residents will once again be able to watch live footage of meetings.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

District of Saanich

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Falling oak tree causes minor damage to Langford home

Tree damages garden and gutters of home on Lindsay Place

Residents to start moving into first of 100 new affordable homes in Langford

Construction underway on second phase of affordable Indigenous housing project in Langford

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Most Read