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

Just Posted

Pub seeks 55-seat patio on Oak Bay Avenue

Oak Bay invites businesses to expand onto sidewalks, parking spots

Killing of Discovery Island wolf was legal, says BC Conservation Service

Takaya was shot and killed by hunters on March 24

B.C. Conservation kills bear in Langford amid growing problem of habituation

Officer demands garbage lockdown for residents in bear territory

Police enforce school zone speed limits as Greater Victoria students return to class

Saanich police on the lookout for speeders outside Glanford Middle School

PHOTOS: Greater Victoria School District reports 50 per cent of students back in class

Students are on a rotational schedule alternating two days a week

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

COVID-19 birthday drive-by celebrations snuffed out in Island community

Bylaw officer visit with threats of a fine mean parade trucks taken off the road

Vancouver Island Regional Libraries to offer ‘takeout’ style services

VIRL will offer the service on a branch-by-branch basis

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Duncan’s Queen Margaret’s School pioneers thermal imaging in school reopening

Private school is first in B.C. to use new tech post-COVID-19

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

Most Read