By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
County council is taking steps to join a regional subdivision and appeal board.
During their regular July 4 meeting, Lethbridge County Council reviewed a proposed bylaw that would have the county join the Chinook Intermunicipal Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (CISDAB).
The Oldman River Regional Services Commission (ORRSC) had created the CISDAB at the request of a number of members, in order to address changes made to the Municipal Government Act (MGA).
The proposed Bylaw 19-026 — or the Chinook Intermunicipal Subdivision and Development Appeal Board bylaw —provides details on how the board will function, with some specifics to Lethbridge County being that council would appoint three members to the CISDAB, and an appeal in the county would be heard by a panel of three board members.
Administration recommended that council select the CISDAB members from the county’s existing Subdivision and Appeal Board (SDAB), which consists of five board members who are all citizens-at-large and have completed the required training as per the requirements of the MGA. Of the current board members, four have expressed interest in continuing with the new board.
County council had previously approved a motion to join the CISDAB in June 2018. The county would need to rescind bylaw 1457 — the SDAB bylaw — before adopting the CISDAB bylaw.
Director of community services Larry Randle told council that should they choose to remain with their current SDAB, their level of service from ORRSC would not change.
The CISDBA would cost the county $500 annually for an administration fee, and, as there would be fewer members involved and the wages for sitting in a hearing are lower, there would be less per diems involved than under the current structure.
Administration recommended that council rescind their current SDAB bylaw, and adopt the proposed CISDAB bylaw.
“There would be efficiencies realized by joining the Chinook Intermunicipal SDAB, on maintaining the existing level of device, provided by ORRSC,” said Randle.
Reeve Lorne Hickey asked that if Lethbridge County had a hearing if it meant that none of the county’s appointees would cover that hearing.
Randle replied that it would be up to the county, and that in discussions with Steve Hardy, ORRSC senior planner, they were told that if council chose, they could offer their three members the first opportunity to sit for the hearing.
“If council chose, we could offer those members the first opportunity, maybe one or two of them wouldn’t be available that particular day or whatever that case, and then they would go into that larger pool, and so we would almost certainly, always be sure in being able to get three members, whether they’re directly from the county or from other municipalities,” said Randle.
Hickey said that he “didn’t quite follow the purpose” of the CISDAB if they were just going to pick their three members to have a hearing in their municipality, as that was their current situation, and with the CISDAB, they were just going down in size and decreasing their wages.
“That part is customized, totally up to the municipalities, individual municipalities having an appeal of how they want the members appointed to sit on the panel to hear an appeal,” said Hardy, adding that most of the joining municipalities have indicated that they would like one of their members to hear an appeal. “It’s designed so it’s flexible based on that, and how the municipalities wishes are on that.”
CAO Ann Mitchell asked if the idea behind that was picking one member who was familiar with the municipality, and then picking the rest from the pool so there was diversity on the board, which Hardy confirmed. In response to a question on the decision deliberating process and whether they would be paid for that, Hardy said what typically happened, was that the board would hold the hearing, and deliberate and make their decision immediately after the hearing. Afterwards, an ORRSC clerk would type up their decision and reasoning and have it approved by the board members.
“We very rarely have appeals where they come back on another date to deliberate. I can think maybe of two in 20 years — one was on a landfill in Willow Creek, and one was on a wind farm in M.D. of Pincher Creek — where the hearings went all day, they had a hundred people show up, and the board had to come back the next day to deliberate, make their decision, kind of thing, because they were tired after hearing people all day and they didn’t want to make it that night because they didn’t want to make a bad decision because they were burnt out,” said Hardy. “Depending on the matter, a hearing might last an hour or two, than the board stays for an hour, so it’s usually done right afterwards, type of a thing. So usually just the half day, in most cases, per diem applies.”
Coun. Morris Zeinstra said that he felt that going with the regional model would be better for appeals to be handled. Coun. Tory Campbell also voiced support for the regional model.
Council passed a motion to rescind bylaw 1457 in a split 4-2 vote, with Hickey and Coun. Ken Benson voting against.
Council passed motions to perform first and second reading of bylaw 19-026 in a split 5-1 vote, with Hickey being the sole vote against. A motion to proceed with third reading with unanimous consent was defeated as it did not have the needed unanimous votes, as Hickey voted against it. Coun. Klass VanderVeen was not in attendance at the meeting.