Hearings Before Municipal Council, Commissions + Boards During The COVID-19 Pandemic
Field + Brook Newsletter
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we anticipate that municipalities and their board and committees will try to postpone most meetings and hearings. At the time of writing, the Government of Alberta has restricted social gatherings to no more than 15 persons and the municipalities across the province, including the City of Calgary and the City of Edmonton, have issued local emergency orders to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Postponing meetings and hearings is likely only a temporary solution if the virus continues to disrupt our ability to meet in person.
Important questions arise in the development industry, such as:
- What if City Council wants to host a land use hearing? How would they go about doing that?
- What if a law requires a meeting to be held within a specific time period? For example, if Brookfield Residential has a development permit appeal hearing before the Subdivision Development and Appeal Board? The Municipal Government Act requires the Subdivision Development and Appeal Board to commence that hearing within 30 days of the issuing a notice of the appeal (section 686(2)).
- What if we want to appeal upcoming tax assessments to the Assessment Review Board? How would that work?
- What if members of a board or committee are in quarantine so quorum cannot be obtained to host a hearing?
We can provide some clarity on this. On March 26, 2020, the Government of Alberta issued an Order in Council 099/2020, which creates a new Meeting Procedures (COVID-19 Suppression) Regulation (the “Regulation”).
This Regulation states:
- Where an act requires a public meeting of a Municipal Council, Planning Commission, Subdivision Development and Appeal Board, or Assessment Review Board, these entities may host the public meeting by electronic means by either teleconference or streaming.
- Any person entitled to be heard before council, commission or a board may make submissions by email or by any other means that the council, commission, or board decides is acceptable.
- Information that is required to be made public by an act shall be posted on the website of the council, board, or commission, or another website, so that it is easily found by the public.
- If members of a council, board or committee are in quarantine, and this would usually prevent the hearing from meeting the usual quorum, the Regulation allows quorum to be only 2 members.
Field Law can advise on strategies and options for making your presentations to council, boards and committees and getting your messaging and position heard. We have extensive experience in Planning Law and Municipal Law and appeals before Subdivision and Development Appeal Boards and working for, with, and against municipalities. Please let us know if you require any support.