Hamilton considers virtual planning, committee of adjustment meetings

News May 21, 2020 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton is considering virtual meetings for the planning and heritage committee and the committee of adjustment as well as allowing public delegations through video, while the city conforms with the province’s emergency lockdown orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since Ontario established its emergency order, now extended to June 2, limiting gatherings of people to five, Hamilton has only held virtual committee of the whole and council meetings as of early April.

But as a backlog of planning applications to the city keep piling up, councillors have requested staff examine how to hold virtual planning committee meetings, committee of the adjustment meetings and heritage committee meetings so decisions can be made on the submissions.

And since the Planning Act requires the city to allow public participation for any public meeting about a planning document, Hamilton staff will study if it is possible to allow individuals to partake in the meeting virtually, or by submitting a video.

In light of the pandemic, the city currently allows the public to submit written delegations to the committee of the whole meetings.

Planning director Steve Robichaud said as of May 15, there are 105 applications waiting for a decision by the committee of adjustment and 75 development applications being reviewed by planning staff. He said about 15 of the current applications could be before a planning committee.

Ideas being talked about to clear the backlog include holding two planning meetings per week or scheduling a committee of adjustment and planning committee meetings each week, rather than the usual twice a month meetings.

“I’m anxious to see some of the developments make it through the committee and into the community,” said Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins.

Councillors also encouraged staff to allow the public the opportunity to make a video delegation rather than just through a written response. A report is expected in early June.

“Nothing can fill a chamber faster than having a contentious issue at the planning committee,” said Glanbrook Coun. Brenda Johnson. “Having 20 people coming up to the podium and speaking is a helluva lot more effective than having 20 letters sent in.”

The province passed legislation April 15 allowing municipalities to pause a planning application, including where a notice of a decision has already been issued. The timeline changes were made to allow municipalities to assess whether they can process planning applications and hold the permitted public meetings during the pandemic under the province’s emergency orders.

The province has also prevented any developer from filing an appeal to the Local Planning and Appeals Tribunal for lack of decision. It has also shut down the tribunal during the pandemic.

Hamilton solicitor Michael Kyne said it is up to the municipality to determine whether to allow virtual meetings for planning committees.

But a possible problem, said Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark, is the province has not provided municipalities with any legal protection if they do hold planning committee meetings. It could result in the municipality being challenged by the courts or the tribunal, he said.

“It’s going to be a tricky process how we do that in this COVID environment,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “We will have to figure that out.”

Meanwhile, Eisenberger said Hamilton will continue to hold virtual council meetings as long as the province’s emergency orders remain in effect.

Usually council holds a so-called summer schedule with one standing committee meeting per month in July and August and they are held in one week. He said councillors could hold additional meetings depending upon the workload required.

“There is a backlog of issues that need to be brought forward (and) it requires additional meetings,” said Eisenberger. “This is not business as usual. So, I expect there will be some changes on how we operate this summer.”

Hamilton studies if it can hold virtual planning, committee of adjustment meetings during pandemic

News May 21, 2020 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton is considering virtual meetings for the planning and heritage committee and the committee of adjustment as well as allowing public delegations through video, while the city conforms with the province’s emergency lockdown orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since Ontario established its emergency order, now extended to June 2, limiting gatherings of people to five, Hamilton has only held virtual committee of the whole and council meetings as of early April.

But as a backlog of planning applications to the city keep piling up, councillors have requested staff examine how to hold virtual planning committee meetings, committee of the adjustment meetings and heritage committee meetings so decisions can be made on the submissions.

And since the Planning Act requires the city to allow public participation for any public meeting about a planning document, Hamilton staff will study if it is possible to allow individuals to partake in the meeting virtually, or by submitting a video.

Related Content

In light of the pandemic, the city currently allows the public to submit written delegations to the committee of the whole meetings.

Planning director Steve Robichaud said as of May 15, there are 105 applications waiting for a decision by the committee of adjustment and 75 development applications being reviewed by planning staff. He said about 15 of the current applications could be before a planning committee.

Ideas being talked about to clear the backlog include holding two planning meetings per week or scheduling a committee of adjustment and planning committee meetings each week, rather than the usual twice a month meetings.

“I’m anxious to see some of the developments make it through the committee and into the community,” said Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins.

Councillors also encouraged staff to allow the public the opportunity to make a video delegation rather than just through a written response. A report is expected in early June.

“Nothing can fill a chamber faster than having a contentious issue at the planning committee,” said Glanbrook Coun. Brenda Johnson. “Having 20 people coming up to the podium and speaking is a helluva lot more effective than having 20 letters sent in.”

The province passed legislation April 15 allowing municipalities to pause a planning application, including where a notice of a decision has already been issued. The timeline changes were made to allow municipalities to assess whether they can process planning applications and hold the permitted public meetings during the pandemic under the province’s emergency orders.

The province has also prevented any developer from filing an appeal to the Local Planning and Appeals Tribunal for lack of decision. It has also shut down the tribunal during the pandemic.

Hamilton solicitor Michael Kyne said it is up to the municipality to determine whether to allow virtual meetings for planning committees.

But a possible problem, said Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark, is the province has not provided municipalities with any legal protection if they do hold planning committee meetings. It could result in the municipality being challenged by the courts or the tribunal, he said.

“It’s going to be a tricky process how we do that in this COVID environment,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “We will have to figure that out.”

Meanwhile, Eisenberger said Hamilton will continue to hold virtual council meetings as long as the province’s emergency orders remain in effect.

Usually council holds a so-called summer schedule with one standing committee meeting per month in July and August and they are held in one week. He said councillors could hold additional meetings depending upon the workload required.

“There is a backlog of issues that need to be brought forward (and) it requires additional meetings,” said Eisenberger. “This is not business as usual. So, I expect there will be some changes on how we operate this summer.”

Hamilton studies if it can hold virtual planning, committee of adjustment meetings during pandemic

News May 21, 2020 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton is considering virtual meetings for the planning and heritage committee and the committee of adjustment as well as allowing public delegations through video, while the city conforms with the province’s emergency lockdown orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since Ontario established its emergency order, now extended to June 2, limiting gatherings of people to five, Hamilton has only held virtual committee of the whole and council meetings as of early April.

But as a backlog of planning applications to the city keep piling up, councillors have requested staff examine how to hold virtual planning committee meetings, committee of the adjustment meetings and heritage committee meetings so decisions can be made on the submissions.

And since the Planning Act requires the city to allow public participation for any public meeting about a planning document, Hamilton staff will study if it is possible to allow individuals to partake in the meeting virtually, or by submitting a video.

Related Content

In light of the pandemic, the city currently allows the public to submit written delegations to the committee of the whole meetings.

Planning director Steve Robichaud said as of May 15, there are 105 applications waiting for a decision by the committee of adjustment and 75 development applications being reviewed by planning staff. He said about 15 of the current applications could be before a planning committee.

Ideas being talked about to clear the backlog include holding two planning meetings per week or scheduling a committee of adjustment and planning committee meetings each week, rather than the usual twice a month meetings.

“I’m anxious to see some of the developments make it through the committee and into the community,” said Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins.

Councillors also encouraged staff to allow the public the opportunity to make a video delegation rather than just through a written response. A report is expected in early June.

“Nothing can fill a chamber faster than having a contentious issue at the planning committee,” said Glanbrook Coun. Brenda Johnson. “Having 20 people coming up to the podium and speaking is a helluva lot more effective than having 20 letters sent in.”

The province passed legislation April 15 allowing municipalities to pause a planning application, including where a notice of a decision has already been issued. The timeline changes were made to allow municipalities to assess whether they can process planning applications and hold the permitted public meetings during the pandemic under the province’s emergency orders.

The province has also prevented any developer from filing an appeal to the Local Planning and Appeals Tribunal for lack of decision. It has also shut down the tribunal during the pandemic.

Hamilton solicitor Michael Kyne said it is up to the municipality to determine whether to allow virtual meetings for planning committees.

But a possible problem, said Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark, is the province has not provided municipalities with any legal protection if they do hold planning committee meetings. It could result in the municipality being challenged by the courts or the tribunal, he said.

“It’s going to be a tricky process how we do that in this COVID environment,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “We will have to figure that out.”

Meanwhile, Eisenberger said Hamilton will continue to hold virtual council meetings as long as the province’s emergency orders remain in effect.

Usually council holds a so-called summer schedule with one standing committee meeting per month in July and August and they are held in one week. He said councillors could hold additional meetings depending upon the workload required.

“There is a backlog of issues that need to be brought forward (and) it requires additional meetings,” said Eisenberger. “This is not business as usual. So, I expect there will be some changes on how we operate this summer.”