B.C. municipalities to be given power to move away from mandated newspaper advertising

More power given to cities

Local governments may not legally be required to advertise in print newspapers anymore under a series of changes the provincial government has proposed for its Municipal Affairs Statutes.

The B.C. government announced the series of changes Tuesday it says are in response to requests from cities.

If ultimately passed in the legislature, changes would alter requirements for statutory public notices, streamline development approvals processes and update of codes of conduct for municipal elected officials.

Local governments would be given the freedom to enact new bylaws that determine the method in which they provide public notices to residents. Presently, those notices must appear in print, however new wording would allow municipalities to determine what form of public notice will reach the greatest number of people.

In previous years, several communities, including Kelowna and Penticton have brought resolutions to the Union of BC Municipalities convention, asking that the changes be made in the face of falling print newspaper readerships.

Other changes would see local governments able to bypass public hearings for zoning bylaw amendments which are already consistent with the communities Official Community Plan. Decisions on minor variance permits could also be delegated to staff which the province says would save time in the approval process.

Changes would also require councils and regional boards to "publicly consider developing codes of conduct for their council or board members."

"The change provides a tool to strengthen local government responsible conduct by creating a regular process for elected officials to engage in conversations about shared expectations for conduct as they carry out their responsibilities and govern together," the government said in its announcement.

More BC News