Council looks at delegating authority to staff

Bylaw will allow city staff to make some decisions on behalf of council, provisions in place for council to review decisions.

City council gave three readings to a bylaw that will allow municipal staff to make approvals on a number of matters and issues instead of by mayor and council.

The bylaw allows council to delegate authority to city staff to approve application requirements for Official Community Plan (OCP) and zoning bylaw amendments, development variance permits, development permits and heritage alteration permits.

Other areas that staff have delegated approval includes authority to require development approval information and land use and development approvals.

There is a provision in the bylaw allows for an applicant to seek Council’s reconsideration of a decision by city staff.

“I can tell you from personal experience, talking to some developers, that the major complaints that we’ve heard, we’ve addressed with this [bylaw] and I can tell you, we’re telling the developers that it’s going to be easier to do business with us,” said Mayor Lee Pratt, during the bylaw’s discussion at the council table.

“We’re open for business and the word’s getting out. I met with a number of them from out of town and Kevin Weaver’s had a few calls in the last three weeks from outside interests wondering what kind of lands are available here and looking at doing some development.

“I think this is a big step in the right direction to start making things happen here and once the word gets out, people are going to be really pleased and happy to do business here.”

Moving forward, council and staff will be establishing parameters for what types and scales of development permits for commercial and others could be delegated and which ones Council may wish to review. According to a report, all development permits could be delegated to staff, however, staff feel that larger projects should go to Council for review.

Both councillors Tom Shypitka and Ron Popoff voiced their support for the bylaw, which had unanimous support.

“We have professional staff, we trust you to make quality decisions and there’s still a back door if there’s need for consideration, so this is allowing for staff to make unfettered discretionary decisions and I’m really glad we’re at that stage,” Popoff said.

The authority to delegate decisions from the Council table is made available through the Community Charter and Local Government Act. Matters that cannot be delegated by Council include approval of Development Variance Permits, Board of Variance requests and bylaw approvals.