By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The new Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) bylaw passed second and third reading Tuesday night with a 4-2 vote on both readings.
While the completely revised bylaw contains several changes that will bring it better in line with provincial legislation, the majority of discussion over the past month has been centred on to what degree council should be involved. Under its former design, the SDAB was made up of three members of the public and two members of council, although councillors act as citizens and not representatives of council while serving on the board. That will remain the case despite the efforts of Councillors Paul Krauskopf and Lisa Holmes who are currently SDAB members.
The two councillors lobbied the rest of council once again Tuesday night to at least reduce council’s presence on the board to one member to be reviewed a year later.
As presented to Morinville Town Council May 10, the new bylaw would have seen a phasing out of council’s participation on the board – the ratio changing to four members at large in 2011 and five members at large in 2012. The transitioning to an all public board was recommended by the SDAB itself based on recommendations they received during training sessions.
Prior to second reading June 14, Councillor Lisa Holmes offered an amendment to reduce council’s presence to one member, citing the awkward position a councillor is in to hear something presented in a regular council meeting and then perhaps having to handle an appeal regarding it as a member of the SDAB.
“One or two is still awkward, but it reduces [council’s presence] and allows for evaluation,” Holmes said, noting those launching appeals may not be able to separate a councillor’s council and SDAB roles. “I can take my [council] hat off, but for her – she won’t see that.”
Krauskopf also supported reducing to one councillor because he too believed those launching the appeal may not be able to separate the member’s role as a councillor and as a member of the general public.
“When it comes time for an appeal, there is the perception and all that other stuff,” he said. “It makes it very uncomfortable.”
Councillor Gordon Boddez saw no problem with the dual role between councillors serving on council and the quasi-judicial board and questioned the concept of objectivity. “I’m not sure anyone can be unbiased,” Boddez said. “Is there any objectivity by anyone?”
The amendment to reduce to one council member was defeated 4-2 – Holmes and Krauskopf casting the only favourable votes. Holmes and Krauskopf went on to cast the only opposing votes during first and second reading.