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22Nov
2019

Hot Topics in Planning Law

A review of papers delivered at past iterations of this seminar, purporting to address “hot” topics, provides some insight into our firm’s broad interpretation of the word term “hot”. Of course, given the Supreme Court of Canada’s repeated endorsement of broad interpretation in the local government context, who could fault us for also adopting that approach? Anyway, it turns out a hot topic is, in short, a topic too important to ignore completely, but not quite important enough to warrant a whole paper.

Although British Columbia’s real estate market seems to have cooled off a little, at least in some parts of the province, the provincial Legislature and its local government progeny continue to agonize over solutions to what can still reasonably be referred to as an affordable housing crisis. Rental tenure zoning, introduced in May of 2018 as section 481.1 of the Local Government Act (“LGA”) in response to agitation from the Union of BC Municipalities, is already being put to the test. And in September of 2019 the provincial government released a report on the results of a province-wide stakeholder consultation process, as a part of a broader initiative called the “Development Approval Procedures Review”. The release of that report was sandwiched between two related planning law moments, one courtesy of the courts and the other thanks to the Legislature, both of which relate, albeit in very different ways, to the question of local government procedures for the assessment of applications for permission to subdivide, develop or otherwise alter land. Finally, a new case on an old, and always vexing, question: can local governments zone for land users, as opposed to land uses?

This paper begins with a closer look at the rental tenure zoning legislation and related amendments to Part 14 of the LGA requiring local governments to prepare housing needs reports. It then considers the Development Approval Procedures Review report in the context of a Vancouver case which, although framed as a negligence claim, was all about development procedures where approval, to the applicant’s chagrin, was not forthcoming. It then turns to the latest version of a tortured procedural quagmire in which the Province continues to insist local governments must thrash about: the Riparian Areas Protection Regulation. Finally, it closes with a quick look at people zoning.

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