Director of Planning and Development Darren Braun addresses council during a public hearing Monday. Mayor Henry Braun (bottom left) says the city is likely the first municipality in British Columbia to hold a public hearing that the public is allowed to attend. Screenshot

Director of Planning and Development Darren Braun addresses council during a public hearing Monday. Mayor Henry Braun (bottom left) says the city is likely the first municipality in British Columbia to hold a public hearing that the public is allowed to attend. Screenshot

Abbotsford holds public hearing with an audience – and the province’s blessing

Hearing may be B.C.’s first socially distanced hearing with public present

The City of Abbotsford held a public hearing Monday evening.

That’s usually not news, but these aren’t usual times. Monday’s hearing may have been the first such public hearing where residents were allowed to attend in person since large gatherings were banned by the province last month.

Under the close eyes of staff tasked with ensuring proper social distancing, eight people attended the hearing in the 350-seat Matsqui Centennial Auditorium where council usually meets. (Over the last month, a new seating arrangement has seen councillors spaced out in desks usually occupied by staff, who themselves are distributed around the auditorium. Some councillors and staff have participated online, but not in person.)

Only one issue was on the agenda – a small townhouse development near the historic downtown.

Before the hearing, Mayor Henry Braun said the city needed to permit in-person attendance of public hearings to conform to provincial rules and protect itself legally.

“The rules regarding public hearings are extremely rigorous and any deviation from the legislation or legal requirements can leave the city at risk of legal challenge,” he said.

While virtual meetings can be held, Braun said that if something stopped a resident from connecting, that could render the hearing void.

“Until the Province of B.C. makes changes to the legislation, we are left operating in this reality.”

Braun said the province has suggested they are looking at making arrangements. In the meantime, he said the city’s hearing format will allow people to maintain sufficient distance from one another.

Braun said municipal affairs minister Selina Robinson had cited Abbotsford specifically on a recent call with mayors, and expressed support for the city’s ability to hold hearings while complying with distancing requirements.

RELATED: Abbotsford looks to hold in-person public hearings, with audience size limited

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elias Pettersson and the Vancouver Canucks drew a large crowd to the Abbotsford Centre in 2019. Canucks management hopes the crowds return for the planned AHL team this fall, and early returns are positive. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Canucks: ‘Incredible’ early interest for Abbotsford AHL tickets

Team has had a strong response to both e-mail information and priority ticket lists

Red dot shows location where fisherman was rescued by boater on Friday, May 7, 2021. Other fisher still missing presumed drowned after boat swamped on Fraser River near Vedder/Sumas confluence. Rescued man swam to shore after boat sank, while friend is still classified as missing as of May 10. (City of Chilliwack map)
Fisherman still missing after boat flipped on the Fraser River

One man made it out, other still missing, after anchor got snagged in the Fraser near Chilliwack

Corina Rochon has been working the front lines of the pandemic in the intensive care unit at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. She is also an instructor in the nursing program at University of the Fraser Valley.
Pandemic the most challenging of Abbotsford nurse’s 16-year career

Corina Rochon works front lines at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

Joan Septembre went for a weekend hike at Lindeman Lake, parking next to a vehicle that had two windows smashed in. (submitted photo)
Thieves active at Lindeman Lake and other parking spots along Chilliwack Lake Road

The hiking community is lamenting an uptick in car theft and vandalism as the weather gets nicer

Dario Lopez comes to the Cascades from Madrid, Spain where he played in very competitive junior leagues. (Dan Kinvig/UFV Athletics)
UFV Cascades sign Spanish basketball talent

High-scoring forward Dario Lopez joins team for 2021-22 season

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read