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What are the goals of the Renovate the Public Hearing Initiative?

The Renovate the Public Hearing Initiative aims to improve and modernize the current public hearing process. We are looking at ways to improve public engagement and participation, enhance transparency, improve accessibility and inclusivity, and promote more equitable and effective land use decision-making processes.

As we trial alternatives to the current public hearing process, we will be evaluating the challenges and successes to create an evidence-based list of recommendations to be considered by the Province of British Columbia for changes to the current legislation for public hearings, and community-based tools for municipalities to employ.

Who is funding the Renovate the Public Hearing Initiative?

This project is funded by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) through the Housing Supply Challenge.

What is the process of a public hearing in British Columbia?

The government of British Columbia legislates the the process of a public hearing.

a. Notification: Relevant stakeholders, such as property owners and residents in the affected area, are notified about the upcoming public hearing through various means, including newspaper advertisements, mail-outs, or online notifications.

b. Presentation: The public hearing begins with presentations by proponents or applicants who present their proposal, such as a rezoning application or a bylaw amendment. They provide details and rationale for the proposed change.

c. Public Input: Members of the public, including residents, community groups, and other stakeholders, are given an opportunity to voice their opinions, concerns, and support for the proposal. They can provide verbal or written submissions, and their input is recorded for consideration.

d. Council Deliberation: After public input, the council or decision-making body will deliberate on the proposal, taking into account the feedback received during the public hearing. They may ask questions to clarify aspects of the proposal or seek further information.

e. Decision: Following deliberation, the council will make a decision on the proposal. This decision could involve approving, rejecting, or requesting modifications to the proposal. The decision is typically made at a subsequent council meeting, separate from the public hearing.

Where do public hearings usually take place and are they online too?

Each municipality determines when and where a public hearing will take place. Many communities have adopted a ‘hybrid’ model, where you can attend in person or via an online format (i.e. Zoom).  To find out how to attend your public hearing, visit your municipality’s website or call your local city hall.

What is the difference between a public hearing and a regular council meeting in British Columbia?

In British Columbia, there are distinct differences between a public hearing and a regular council meeting:


Public Hearing: A public hearing is a specific type of meeting held by a local government or municipal council to gather public input on a particular land use decision, proposal or update. It is a formal process regulated by legislation or bylaws. The purpose of a public hearing is to provide an opportunity for members of the public to express their opinions, concerns, or support regarding the proposal being considered. Public hearings are typically focused on matters that require public input, such as rezoning applications, bylaw amendments, Official Community Plan bylaws or major development proposals. The council listens to the input received during the public hearing and considers it in their decision-making process.

o It's important to note that the specific procedures and requirements for public hearings and regular council meetings can vary slightly between different municipalities in British Columbia, as they have some autonomy in setting their own rules within the framework of provincial legislation.

o A local government is not required to hold a public hearing if a proposed zoning bylaw is consistent with the official community plan (OCP) in effect for the area.


Regular Council Meeting: A regular council meeting is a general meeting of the local government or municipal council that covers a range of topics related to the governance and administration of the municipality. These meetings may involve discussions and decisions on various matters, including policy development, budget approval, infrastructure projects, community initiatives, and more. While regular council meetings may include opportunities for public input, they are not solely dedicated to gathering public feedback on specific proposals.

What is a rezoning and an official community plan?

Rezoning: Rezoning refers to the process of changing the permitted use or density of a particular piece of land as defined by the existing zoning regulations. Zoning regulations govern how land can be used in a specific area, such as residential, commercial, industrial, or recreational purposes. Rezoning may involve modifying the zoning bylaws to allow for different types of land use or increased density. Public hearings are often held as part of the rezoning process to gather feedback from the community before making a decision.


Official Community Plan (OCP): An Official Community Plan is a document that sets out the long-term vision, goals, and policies for land use and development within a municipality or region. It provides a framework for managing growth and development while considering various social, economic, and environmental factors. The OCP typically includes land use designations, transportation plans, housing strategies, environmental protection policies, and guidelines for future development. Public input is often sought during the preparation or amendment of an OCP.

What is Bill 44, Housing Statutes, Residential Development Amendment Act, 2023?

On November 1st, a little over a month after the Sept 2023 Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention, the British Columbia government proposed legislation that could move to usher in the most transformative housing reforms in a generation. Bill 44, proposes to amend land-use/zoning rules across British Columbia. This would include permanently waiving site-specific public hearings that align with Official Community Plans (OCPs) while requiring that municipal governments update their OCPs every five years with input from the public.

What opportunities are there to provide feedback on the Renovate the Public Hearing Initiative?

Please contact us by email if you have any additional questions or feedback.

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