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RFD- 3973 Bylaws   Item #   10. c.    
Regular Council Meeting Agenda
Meeting Date: 05/11/2020  
Title:    C-1120-20 - Virtual Procedures (COVID-19 Suppression) Bylaw - All Three Readings - Boje
Department: Corporate Services  
Strategic Vision Element: Related Goal:

Information
Request for Decision Summary
The Government of Alberta recently enacted the Meeting Procedures (COVID-19 Suppression) Regulation, which enables a municipality to conduct its public meetings virtually. A bylaw is required to set out the City of Spruce Grove’s virtual public hearing and subdivision and development appeal board (SDAB) hearing procedures, and to enable the use of electronic signatures by the Mayor and a designated officer.

Proposed Motion
First reading is recommended for approval on the consent agenda:
That first reading be given to C-1120-20 - Virtual Procedures (COVID-19 Suppression) Bylaw.


The following motions are also recommended:
That second reading be given to C-1120-20 - Virtual Procedures (COVID-19 Suppression) Bylaw.
 
That unanimous consent be given for consideration of third reading of C-1120-20 - Virtual Procedures (COVID-19 Suppression) Bylaw.
 
That third reading of C-1120-20 - Virtual Procedures (COVID-19 Suppression) Bylaw.
Background/Analysis
In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Alberta enacted its Meeting Procedures (COVID-Suppression) Regulation at the end of March. Entire meetings and hearings may now be held electronically, by either teleconference or live streamed broadcast. If members of the public were normally entitled to make a submission during the meeting, they should be able to make submissions by email or any other method that Council or a Board considers appropriate. It is important to note that there is no “right” for the public to participate in a Council meeting or a council committee meeting; there is only a right to be present. For public hearings or SDAB hearings, there is a right to participate and therefore procedures must be established. 

Given the wording of the Regulation and the provisions within the City’s Council Procedural Bylaw and Subdivision and Development Appeal Board Bylaw, it is recommended that Council set the procedures for virtual participation by bylaw.

The attached bylaw proposes the following procedures: 

Public Hearing Procedures

•    Written submissions will be accepted until 12 noon on the Wednesday prior to the public hearing. All written submissions will be included in the agenda package. 
•    Persons who wish to speak at the public hearing must do so by registering with the City Clerk’s Office by noon the day of the public hearing. 

The written submission deadline is recommended to ensure that Council has the ability to review written submissions in advance of the meeting. This will ensure both procedural fairness and efficiency in process. The requirement to pre-register to speak during a public hearing is recommended due to the logistics of the technology used for our council meetings and human resources available during the meeting. 

Subdivision and Development Appeal Board

The Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) Bylaw is not as prescriptive in its procedures. In a typical SDAB hearing, written submissions are received one week prior for inclusion in the agenda package. Written submissions are also accepted before and during the hearing, and are read into the record by the SDAB Clerk. There is no registration requirement to speak at an SDAB hearing. However, it is proposed that SDAB hearings follow the same process as public hearings where written submissions will be accepted until 12 noon on the Wednesday prior to the public hearing and persons who wish to speak at the SDAB hearing must do so by registering with the Board Clerk by noon the day of the SDAB hearing.

Electronic Signatures

Section 213 of the Municipal Government Act allows a municipal council to authorize an electronic signature on council meeting minutes, bylaws, agreements, cheques, and other negotiable instruments. For transparency, it is recommended that this authorization be included within this bylaw as well.
Options/Alternatives
Council may choose to amend the bylaw to adjust the submission deadlines or allow email submissions during the public hearing. If this option is chosen, sufficient time must be afforded to enable Council to review any materials submitted. This may require a temporary adjournment during the meeting so that Council may review the material. 

With respect to electronic signatures, Council may choose from the following alternative options:
  1. Enable the use of an electronic signature on a case-by-case basis through the use of a Council resolution. 
  2. Continue to have materials dropped off at the Mayor’s home for ink signature.
Consultation/Engagement
The proposed virtual public hearing procedures, SDAB hearing procedures, and electronic signature processes of several municipalities of similar and larger size were reviewed. The City's approach with respect to meeting procedures is similar to the approach taken by Strathcona County and the City of Leduc.
 
The draft bylaw was reviewed internally by the departments responsible for public hearings, subdivision and development appeal board hearings, and information management. Legal counsel vetted the bylaw and deemed the processes prescribed to be fair and reasonable, provided the procedures are communicated to the public.
Implementation/Communication
Four public hearings are currently scheduled to take place at the May 25, 2020 regular council meeting. It is recommended that Council give all three readings to the proposed Virtual Procedures (COVID-19 Suppression) Bylaw during the May 11, 2020 council meeting so that the procedures may be clearly communicated in advance. Public hearing advertisements will include information regarding the procedural change, and the revised procedures will be communicated at the start of the public hearings.
Impacts
C-1120-20 - Virtual Procedures (COVID-19 Submission) Bylaw allows the City to effectively manage public hearings and SDAB hearings virtually and ensures there is transparency as to what these procedures are for making submissions during these hearings.

Changes with respect to how documents are signed by the Mayor will further allow our processes to align with the recommended social distancing practices.
Attachments
Proposed C-1120-20 - Virtual Procedures (COVID-19 Suppression) Bylaw

City Council and Committee of the Whole agendas and minutes are posted on the City of Spruce Grove website for information purposes only. These agendas may be changed at the discretion of Council by the addition or deletion of items. Anyone reviewing the draft agenda should do so on the understanding that it is subject to change by Council.

All attachments are in PDF format, and require the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in for viewing.

Audio from the most recent City Council and Committee of the Whole meetings are available via podcast on the City of Spruce Grove website.



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