by Colin Smith
At its January 14 regular meeting, Town Council opted to eliminate the Municipal Planning Commission, created in 2009 to consider discretionary-use development applications and major variances.
Town officials had identified a number of issues with the Municipal Planning Commission process, including the Commission took more time to make decisions than the Development Officer, and the presence of another level of decision-making – with input from the body’s public members — was also felt to increase the risk to investors of having projects refused.
Meetings of the Commission resulted in the use of staff time for preparation of the meeting minutes, preparation of agendas and attendance at the meetings, and there was also a cost in member per diems.
The Administration presented Council with three options for the future of the Commission: maintaining it as is, replacing it with an internal review committee without public members, or removing it without establishing another official review body.
Council chose the last option, which will result in the Development Officer being the decision-maker for every development application, on the basis of the Land Use Bylaw and the Town’s plans and priorities.
The officer’s decisions are subject to the Subdivision and Development Appeal, and it’s expected there will be more use of that process with the disappearance of the Municipal Planning Commission.
Dropping the Commission is also considered to be in line with the Provincial Government’s “Red Tape Reduction” initiatives.