Lantzville district hall shown above. (News Bulletin file)

Lantzville staff forbidden from making changes to draft of official community plan

Changes will require council approval moving forward

District of Lantzville staff will no longer be allowed to make changes to the official community plan draft document without getting approval from councillors.

Lantzville councillors voted 4-3 in favour of preventing district staff from making changes to the draft OCP prior to receiving approval.

The idea to forbid staff from making any changes to the OCP was raised by Coun. John Coulson, who was amending Coun. Mark Swain’s motion to revive the second draft OCP, which was approved and will be discussed and voted on in March. Procedural confusion along with updates and changes to the OCP have resulted in delays in adopting the draft documented.

Coulson said staff made changes to the draft OCP that were not just mere “housekeeping” updates but significant changes that have a major impact on the community.

“Lowering the green space that had been discussed with the public, that is not housekeeping. Changing the parkland … that is not a housekeeping thing,” he said. “Lowering the minimum lot sizes for residential zoning from 960 square metres to 760 square metres, that is not housekeeping. There were some very fundamental things changed that were not discussed in council.”

Coulson explained that those changes were not authorized by council, adding that his amendment to Swain’s motion is simply to ensure all future changes are done by council as the OCP is council’s document.

“I just wanted to make sure from this point forward … that changes to this document will be by motion of council,” he said. “If staff has some recommendations or changes that they would like to see, fantastic, they can put a report together and suggest that council votes on it.”

Coun. Dot Neary didn’t support the motion, explaining that Coulson’s amendment was overreaching and restrictive towards staff.

“I believe staff are employed to do a job and administrative function and they fulfill it as they see the need,” she said. “So they have a document in front of them that needs some housekeeping amendments and those amendments are rationalized … I will not support shackling staff who are authorized by council to do a job of work and preventing them from doing that job of work by taking over every area of control within their job description, it just doesn’t sit well with me.”

However, Coun. Denise Haime said she supported Coulson’s amendment because there are a lot of residents who are totally confused and upset about the way the district has handled the entire OCP process.

“Clearly, there has got to be some sort of document control here,” she said. “That’s what we are asking for and I don’t understand why that would be a difficult or challenging thought. It provides trust and conform and confidence to the community so that they don’t have to read every word in the document to make sure it is right.”

Councillors voted 4-3 in favour of Coulson’s amendment and Swain’s motion to revive the second draft OCP.

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