Earlier this week, I sent the following letter addressed to the Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, as well as Premier Doug Ford, with copies sent to our local Member of Provincial Parliament (MPPs).
Given the advice of healthcare experts to employ strict social distancing, and avoid congregating in large crowds, I made the request on behalf of the City of Burlington for Provincial relief from the timelines established in the Planning Act, and flexibility in how we would hold statutory public meetings as part of processing development applications.
Currently, the city is obligated to receive development applications, we are obligated to hold statutory public meetings as part of processing those applications, and we are required to complete our work within a legislated time frame (up to 120 days depending on the type of application). If we don’t complete our work within that time frame, we risk a “non-decision” appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. That takes the decision-making out of staff, the community and council’s hands, and limits public participation, and as such is not in our community’s best interest.
So we asked the Province to “stop the clock” on the processing of development applications by municipalities for an indefinite period, as we cope with this health emergency. We are also asking for flexibility in defining what constitutes a “public meeting” when we are unable to gather together for the foreseeable future. This flexibility would also apply to all required public meetings, including city standing committee and council meetings.
With the closure of City Hall and our efforts to maintain social distancing, public meetings of any kind are challenging.
I know that they are considering this issue and exploring solutions amidst many other pressing matters, and I look forward to hearing back soon.
You can read the full content of the letter here: Letter Mayor Meed Ward March 16 2020 – Premier and Minister.
– Mayor Marianne Meed Ward
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