At the April 20th council meeting, Township of Langley mayor and council passed a bylaw amendment that would waive the requirements for Public Hearings for development applications which are consistent with the Official Community Plan. Mayor Froese clarified that they will still be receiving written submissions from the public regarding such development applications, just the opportunity to speak in-person at a public hearing has been eliminated in light of COVID-19. Similarly, public information meetings (PIM) have also been temporarily suspended due to the pandemic. Previously, these meetings were hosted by developers as open houses to collect public feedback early on in the planning process.
The language in the staff report suggests these are temporary measures. Staff recommended these modifications, to both the public hearing and PIM bylaws, be reviewed again before the end of the year to provide an opportunity for mayor and council to repeal the changes.
Given the extensive public engagement that is carried out in both the neighbourhood planning and community planning processes, there is certainly an argument for the redundancy of additional public input on specific development applications which comply with the OCP or NCP. One can hope that these policy changes will become permanent and allow planning staff to focus on other, more complex, projects and priorities.
You can download the full report to council by clicking here.