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Mission updates engagement policy to fill public hearing 'gap'

Residents will have alternative way to voice feedback in both urban and rural areas
Mission Mayor Paul Horn says the neighbourhood engagement policy is crucial with fewer public hearings.

With new provincial housing legislation leading to fewer public hearings, Mission residents will now have an alternative way to voice their feedback. 

At the June 3 meeting, council unanimously approved an update to its neighbourhood engagement policy to fill the "gap". 

“With the creation of Bill 44 and the new principles around public hearings not happening, we really do have a bit of a grey area in terms of how we're going to hear from the community. For me, the neighbourhood engagement policy is absolutely the critical part because you're getting people's input early on,” Mission Mayor Paul Horn said. 

According to a staff report, the policy will provide residents with early information and an opportunity for initial feedback on a development application before it comes before council. 

As part of the update, in-person meetings for locals near a potential development are required, with a notification letter baked into the process. 

The policy applies to apartment, townhouse, and mixed-use development applications within Mission’s urban growth boundary. Outside of that boundary, it applies to rezoning applications for single-family detached developments resulting in five or more new lots. 

Industrial and commercial applications that impact residential areas will also undergo public engagement. Council asked staff to clearly define what residential impact means. 

Horn said the city received a lot of communication from a pair of community groups on the policy. 

The groups suggested staff reach out to particular community groups prior to developments but Horn had concerns. He advocated for a broadcast approach, encouraging groups to share the message with neighbours. 

“I've seen in the past where community groups sometimes form just for the purpose of countering another community group, and it becomes impossible for the city to really kind of determine who's a group and who's not a group,” Horn said. 

Staff will look into how the policy can be embedded into the official community plan. 

Council also resolved for staff to prepare a report about a potential community input process, including a publicly accessible web form that directs comments to council and provides an opportunity for all community members to see comments.

Dillon White

About the Author: Dillon White

I joined the Mission Record in November of 2022 after moving to B.C. from Nova Scotia earlier in the year.
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