Changes may come to rezoning practice at Abbotsford council

Coun. Dave Loewen questions practice of putting off decisions

Dave Loewen

Dave Loewen

Once council has listened to objections or support of a rezoning request at a mandated public hearing, a decision on the project is  frequently deferred to a later date.

Coun. Dave Loewen thinks that should change. He brought forward a motion last Monday for City of Abbotsford staff to review the practice, explaining that the added delay, if unnecessary, is “not business-friendly” for developers looking to start their projects.

Council is already allowed to make a decision on third reading – which, if approved, only requires one last rubber stamp before the project is a go – directly following the hearing, but this generally doesn’t occur. The mayor reads a statement before each public hearing which notes that it is a practice of council to not make an immediate decision if there is significant objection to a rezoning.

But Loewen said if there is not sufficient new information within the opposition for council to consider, they should be free to make an immediate decision.

Coun. Patricia Ross said it is also important that council have the right to reserve a decision until later, as there can also be many letters and emails presented to council that they should consider.

Loewen said it is any councillor’s prerogative to ask for a deferral at any time, but it would be more democratic for council to be free to vote on whether that should occur. Staff will bring forward a report this fall.