Public hearings can be waived for DT projects

Development incentive is the first of its kind in B.C.

The Mission City Downtown Action Plan bylaw was given three readings Monday evening.

The Mission City Downtown Action Plan bylaw was given three readings Monday evening.

Mission will soon be the only municipality in B.C. to waive public hearings on development projects intended to improve downtown.

“No other community in B.C. has done it,” said Mayor Ted Adlem.

Council gave the new bylaw its first three readings Monday night to move the Mission City Downtown Action Plan forward. The plan offers aggressive incentives to encourage and accelerate private investment and improvement projects in the area, which is roughly from Murray Street to the east to Grand Street to the west, and from North Railway Avenue to Second Avenue, including the former Bellevue Hotel property.

Because of the extensive public input process in developing the plan, people just want to get on with it, explained Sharon Fletcher, Mission’s director of long range planning and special projects, noting the Local Government Act allows councils to waive public hearings.

When a rezoning application that fits in with the district’s plan is presented before Dec. 31, 2016, council can decide whether or not to waive the public hearing, said Fletcher.

The public can still comment on the project if they want after it is advertised, as the process is unchanged.

Other incentives to encourage development downtown include tax exemptions, municipal fee reductions, breaks in the community amenity contribution, relaxed density and parking regulations and an increase in district services.

The incentives would apply to building permits received before Dec. 31, 2016 for projects that will be completed by Dec. 31, 2018.

– Read our editorial on this topic