Council to look at future of Municipal Planning Commission

by Colin Smith

A complaint letter received by Town Council may have contributed to changes in the way Morinville handles development issues.

The September 27 letter was from a property-owner describing himself as disgusted by an unhelpful response to a request for information from the Town Administration, and the fact his proposed development would have to go before Morinville’s Municipal Planning Commission (MPC).

Councillor Sarah Hall used the occasion of the letter’s appearance on the agenda of Council’s October 8 regular meeting to move that the Administration produce a report on eliminating the Municipal Planning Commission, with consideration of an internal review committee to take over its functions.

Hall, one of two Council representatives on the MPC, said that elimination of the commission would result it saving time and reducing red tape.

“It takes the decisions out of the hands of residents who have to be educated for every single decision,” she said. “It would put them in the hands of the experts.”

Councillor Stephen Dafoe noted that there are some things for which an MPC might still be desirable, but most matters are quite straightforward.

“I’m always in favour of red-tape reduction,” said Deputy Mayor Lawrence Giffen. “This is a bold move, but I’m in favour of it.”

The motion for a report from the Administration on MPC elimination passed unanimously.

The letter had previously been discussed at an MPC meeting, at which the development issue it dealt with was resolved.

However, Morinville Chief Administrative Officer Stephane Labonne rejected the letter’s statement that the Administration staff had been unhelpful.

The inquiry would have gone to development planner Tyler McNab.

Labonne said he is very familiar with how McNab handles inquiries and that he would not have responded in the stated manner, a view seconded by Councillor Hall.

“I’m confident in our staff’s ability to do their work,” he said. “I’m confident that our timelines and our processes are nowhere near as long as most of the region.”

Following these remarks, Councillor Dafoe commended Labonne for defending the integrity of the employee.

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