Power dynamics hot topic for Oliver Town Council

Power dynamic at issue

Oliver council is wrestling with the power dynamics between the director of operations and town council around where the power is vested in requiring more from developers.

The influx of recent complex rezoning and variance applications prompted director of Development Services Randy Houle to present a refresher of the Subdivision and Development Servicing Bylaw to council.

“The power for the director to make the decision for the required works and services has been delegated by Council through this bylaw. Council is generally only involved in cases where a development variance permit is being requested to waive the required works and services outlined by the director,” Houle’s presentation said.

An example of the type of situations in question revolve around how the town can require a “developer to pave the entire width of a lane behind the development, rather than half, or require a developer to install a streetlight beyond the centerline of the road fronting the subject property,” the report notes.

“If council wishes to be more involved in this process in the future, then direction should be provided to staff to bring forth an amendment to the Subdivision and Development Servicing Bylaw.”

Council has delegated the authority to the director who then works through the process with the applicant. The applicant becomes aware of what is required, then the application goes to council, and “if there are additional things added then that's a surprise to the applicant which isn't always a good thing,” Houle noted.

Councillor David Mattes responded that he is not willing to give up the authority to make changes and make developers invest in the town, “you need to give us some of your profit to make the town better.”

Mattes concluded, “myself, I wouldn't mind seeing a change” but added he's not sure what that would look like.

Councillor Aimee Grice commented that it should be limited how many of these applications are decided on a case by case basis, “we need to be able to go back to what's in the bylaw and stick by that.”

Mattes responded: “I would say that the bylaw can't be totally clear because the discretion is given to the director to this point. So the director has to make choices about yes you can do this or no you don't have to do this. That's the problem, you can't have a hard and fast rule and maybe that discretion shouldn't lie solely with the director.”

The discussion ended with no consensus as Houle’s refresher was being presented to council for information and not as an action item.

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