Engagement on Local Planning & Land Use

Residents and other interested parties play an important role in decisions about how their community will develop by participating in local planning and land use processes and making their views known to their municipal council or regional district board.

There are a number of opportunities for residents and interested parties to make their views known to their elected representatives. One of the most common is through a statutory public hearing related to an official community plan or zoning bylaw.

Other opportunities may occur during the development of bylaws, engagement with First Nations and through other forms of engagement.

Public Hearings

Public hearings are a statutory requirement that allow affected persons to provide their views to their elected representatives about the adoption of official community plan bylaws, zoning bylaws, phased development agreement bylaws and bylaws for the early termination of land use contracts.

Official Community Plan Consultation

As part of the development, amendment or repeal of an official community plan, the local government must provide one or more opportunities for consultation with affected persons, organizations and authorities. Local governments must consider if consultation is required with the following parties and what form it will take.

  • The board of the regional district, in the case of a municipal official community plan or if the area of the official community plan is adjacent to a regional district
  • The council of any municipality that is adjacent to the plan area
  • First Nations
  • Boards of education, greater boards and improvement district boards of trustees
  • The B.C. government and federal governments and their agencies
  • The Agricultural Land Commission, if agricultural land is affected

Learn more about official community plans.

Engagement with First Nations

Engagement between local governments and First Nations on activities that could impact Aboriginal interests provides a valuable forum for exploring opportunities for cooperation and collaboration, helping to identify issues and minimizing future disagreements.

The dialogue between local governments and First Nations is part of a neighbour-to-neighbour relationship.

Other Forms of Public Engagement

Many local governments have found it helpful to use other forms of public engagement such as:

  • Open houses
  • Information meetings
  • Town hall meetings
  • Focus groups
  • Audience polling
  • "Kitchen table" meetings (for example, meetings that take place in someone's home)
  • Presentations at community events
  • Surveys and newsletters

Some local governments have chosen to hold a design charrette (an intensive planning session) to explore and share a broad diversity of ideas. Teams of community members, experts and designers (such as planners, architects, engineers) gather, quickly collaborate, sketch designs and compare the resulting ideas. Design charrettes have the unique advantage of providing immediate feedback to the process.

Advisory Planning Commission

Local governments may wish to create and refer matters on land use, community planning or proposed bylaws and permits to an Advisory Planning Commission.