Skip to content

New West council sticks to schedule with six public hearings in 2022

Council votes against proposal to eliminate two public hearings and schedule them as needed
New West city council's 2022 schedule takes into account public holidays and other significant cultural days.

New West city council has rejected a staff recommendation to remove two public hearing dates from its 2022 meeting schedule.

In November 2021, council approved a 2022 meeting schedule that included six public hearings (between January and June), 10 workshops (on days when council meetings are held later in the day) and 20 meetings (two a month, except for July, August, October and December when one meeting a month is planned).

At that time, it was also noted that public hearings would no longer be held on separate nights from council meetings.

On Jan. 10, council received a staff report recommending the 2022 meeting schedule be revised by removing public hearings that had been scheduled for May 30 and June. 27.

“This change will allow the public to have clarity in the timing of council work,” said the report.

Coun. Patrick Johnstone, however, argued in favour of retaining the existing meeting schedule and keeping those two public hearing dates on the schedule. He said there’s a lot of work going on in the city and it’s still a priority to move housing approvals forward, given the ongoing housing affordability situation and overlapping crises in the city.

“I just don’t think it sends a great signal if we are going to not hold a public hearing for seven-plus months,” he said. “I just think there is work that has to be done.”

Johnstone supported keeping those May and June dates available in council’s schedule for public hearings.

“If nothing is on the agenda or nothing is in the queue, then staff have the ability to say that there is nothing to come to public hearings,” he said. “But I don’t want to preclude us having them for that long a period of time given the amount of work that we have to do.”

Emilie Adin, the city’s director of climate action, planning and development, said staff were proposing to come to council with recommendations for additional public hearing dates on a case-by-case basis.

“This is actually how it is done in many cities all of the time; there’s not necessarily a public hearing night that is scheduled, but they are scheduled as they are required,” she said. “Our expectation is that we will come to council with recommendations and rationale as to when and whether and how we could consider adding additional public hearing nights.”

Under the proposal from staff, public hearings would still have been scheduled for Jan. 23, Feb. 28, March 28 and April 25.

Johnstone noted the city’s longstanding practice has been to schedule public hearings at the end of most months, except in the summer and in December.

Instead of approving the staff recommendation, council received the report – meaning the previously approved schedule stays in place.

A Nov. 15 report to council stated staff took a variety of issues into consideration when developing the 2022 meeting schedule, including public holidays and other significant cultural days such as Lunar New Year, Diwali and days of significances to First Nations, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.

The schedule also took into consideration that the 2022 municipal election is being held on Oct. 15. No meetings will be held on Oct. 24 or 31, and the inaugural council meeting will be held on Nov. 7.