Public Hearing Procedures: A New Wrinkle

The B.C. Supreme Court has added a new wrinkle to the extensive case law on procedural fairness in the context of statutory public hearings. The decision may require local governments to provide to members of the public, in some situations, not only disclosure of documents relevant to the proposed bylaw that will be considered by the council in determining whether to adopt the bylaw, but a balanced explanation of what the documents mean.

The January 27 decision of Mr. Justice McEwan in Community Association of New Yaletown v. Vancouver (City) deals with the rezoning of City land at 508 Helmcken Street in the City’s Yaletown district to permit a 36-storey mixed-use development with 448 residential units and commercial and institutional uses at the lower levels. The rezoning is in fact more complex than that; indeed, characterizing it as complex is like characterizing Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace as a long story.

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