City changes scheduling of neighbourhood meetings held to review proposed developments

The scheduling of neighbourhood meetings to gather residents’ feedback about planned developments is being changed so that the meetings can be held before a planning application is formally submitted.
Staff believe the change will provide a number of benefits, including providing an earlier opportunity for residents to “view and understand the proposal and provide feedback,” council was told in a memo from Michelle Banfield, the City’s manager of growth and development.
“The process improvement will have the neighbourhood meeting scheduled in advance of the submission of the planning application. The comments and feedback provided by the community at the neighbourhood meeting are expected to be addressed by the applicant or agent as part of a complete planning application in their plans, drawings and reports,” she writes.
Other expected benefits include:
• Allowing the applicant or agent to hear feedback on a draft version of the plans, drawings and reports, affording the opportunity to respond to the feedback through discussion and revisions to the documents
• Maximizing the use of the legislated approval timelines under the Planning Act by focusing the review matters to those of a technical nature, having already incorporated the feedback from the community into the submission
• Reduce the amount of revisions to plans, drawings and reports throughout the process, ultimately decreasing time and costs for everyone involved.
The neighbourhood meetings are not required under the Planning Act but the City has held them for years. Such meetings “have been scheduled to provide the community an opportunity to review the proposal, speak to the applicant/agent and get a better understanding of the proposal prior to the statutory public meeting (required under the Planning Act),” continues Banfield.
The statutory public meeting which is required is scheduled at the beginning of a General Committee meeting, while the “neighbourhood meetings are less formal and tend to be more comfortable for community members to express their feedback.”
For more on this, including a read of a staff-prepared ‘Terms of Reference for the Neighbourhood Meeting,’ click here.