Tuesday, July 7, 2020

July 6 Public Hearing: First held via Zoom Webinar and live-streamed on YouTube.

Yesterday, Langley City council attended the first public hearing since the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency. The public hearing was for two bylaws to discharge land-use contracts.

The properties part of the hearing were:
19671 50A Avenue
19986 50A Avenue

A land-use contract was a zoning tool that was used in the 1970s, but hasn’t been used for 40 years. In Langley City, many of the single-family neighbourhoods south of the Nicomekl River have land-use contacts. Land-use contracts override the underlying zoning of a property.

Langley City has allowed secondary suites for around 15 years within primary buildings in single-family-zoned neighbourhoods. Land-use contacts do not allow secondary suites in Langley City. Since I’ve been on council, we have discharged (or removed) many land-use contracts to enable the underlying zoning which permits secondary suites.

As a note, City council is planning to discharge all land-use contacts as part of adopting its new Official Community Plan and zoning bylaw, scheduled to take place later this year.

The provincial government will discharge all land-use contracts on June 30, 2024.

One of the special things about this public hearing was that it was live-streamed on the City’s YouTube channel, and people were able to attend and speak to council live via Zoom Webinar.

People were also able to submit correspondence via email or letter about the discharging of these land-use contracts.

Council received one email from a resident that was opposed to secondary suites. A resident on the webinar asked about the process of building a legal secondary suite.

When I logged off from the public hearing, I was excited.

I was excited because COVID-19 has caused governments throughout Canada to examine how they do business. In the past, public hearings only occurred in-person and usually in the City Hall Council Chamber.

Many people are not able to attend these in-person meetings whether it be due to a disability, work schedule, or home life. By offering the ability to attend a public hearing online, more people are now able to engage with local government.

By streaming via YouTube, council meetings are also viewable on mobile phones, computers, and TVs. This helps enhance transparency.

Right now, online council meetings and webinars are allowed by the province only because of the COVID-19 state-of-emergency. I hope that once this state of emergency is gone, local governments will still be allowed to hold meetings and public hearings online.

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