Changes to Bowen’s development procedure bylaws are in the works with the goal of increasing the public’s awareness of local projects.
Concerns were raised last year that people were not becoming informed of potential neighbourhood changes until application processes were well underway. These include rezonings and temporary use permits. The Bowen Cider House’s lounge application and Bowen Island Properties’ light manufacturing facility were proposals receiving particular scrutiny from neighbours regarding when they were consulted.
One of the key changes, outlined by manager of planning and development Daniel Martin at Monday's council meeting, will be introducing an extra notification step for applications. Under current rules neighbours are notified via mailouts from the municipality between the time an application is introduced to council and when a final decision is made. A new provision would introduce a municipal mailout prior to council hearing applications for the first time.
Council suggested both mailout phases be conducted 10 days in advance of a council meeting.
Earlier signage posting is also a goal of the amendments. Right now applicants are required to post a sign on the property 10 days before a decision on the application is made. New rules would require a sign erected within 14 days of submitting a completed application, with updates made to the wording as the process plays out.
Other amendment suggestions include changes to board of variance bylaws to require application mailouts to all properties within 100 metres instead of just adjacent properties, and advertisement of the plans in back to back issues of an area newspaper.
Fees would also be introduced for contiguous parcel applications, where multiple properties involved in a project combine to submit one development application. Instead of costing nothing, each property involved will pay 50 per cent of the application fee (in addition to that fee in the first place).
And all applications to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch would also be referred for public notice moving forward, with a 30-day notice period.
Second and third readings are expected sometime during Spring, meaning the amendments would likely be made official later this year.