West Kelowna City Hall. —Image credit: City of West Kelowna

West Kelowna shuts down public input on development permits

City says provincial rules prohibit public input on straight forward DPs

As expected, West Kelowna city council has opted to change the wording of its policy concerning direct public input to council to make it clear the public cannot address council about straight forward development permit applications.

Council sided with city planning staff who made the recommendation saying provincial law does not allow public input for development permits unless there are rezonings, variances or changes to the Official Community Plan requested.

But while the decision was supported by a majority of council, some said they still want to see the public notified about development permit applications in order to maintain transparency and keep residents informed about what is happening in the city.

“We need to address the transparency issue,” said Coun. Rick De Jong.

Related column: Bid to limit public input troubling

Other councillors, like Duane Ophus, said the move does not mean council can’t hear from the public about any issue.

“We’re not taking anything away because (the right to address council about a straightforward development permit) did not exist in the first place,” he said.

Planning manager Nancy Henderson told council the city has little say in the matter as provincial legislation does not allow a city any flexibility on the issue.

In her report to council she said the change in wording was required so as not to give the false impression the public could be heard on straight forward development permit applications.

Allowing the public to speak could also result in legal action by a developer if the permit was rejected by council after hearing from residents.

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