Vancouver City Council

Public Hearings

Public Hearings are held to consider rezoning matters and heritage designations. Generally, there are 12 to 20 per year at 7:30 pm in the Council Chamber. Delegations may choose to pre-register, or register at the door. The Vancouver Charter Globe requires that Council hear from all persons who deem themselves affected by the public hearing matter. Public Hearings are publicized in community papers.


What is a Public Hearing?

A public hearing is a special meeting of City Council held to consider zoning changes and heritage designations. Before City Council can change a zoning bylaw they must provide members of the public that feel they are affected by the proposed change an opportunity to make their views known to Council. Members of Council must enter a public hearing with an open mind and consider the information presented during the public hearing when deciding on a change to a zoning bylaw.


A proposed zoning bylaw change is presented as an application. Council may consider more than one application at a public hearing meeting.

View the City's Rezoning Applications, and access a list of active applications of the Rezoning Centre, with their current status.

Meeting Frequency

Usually, there are 12 to 20 public hearings held each year beginning at 6:00pm in the Council Chamber at City Hall.


Everyone is welcome to attend.


To find out about upcoming public hearings


• visit the City of Vancouver website at http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/councilmeetings/meeting_schedule.cfm
• watch for advertisements in the local newspapers

If you live in the geographic area of the application you may receive a courtesy notification from the City staff.

View the City's Meeting Schedule, and access all meeting agendas and minutes.

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Speaking at a Public Hearing

The Vancouver Charter requires that Council hear from the public about rezoning and heritage designation issues before making a decision.


Members of the public can present their comments or concerns about a proposed zoning bylaw change. Public comments or concerns should address only the merits of the application. Council cannot involve itself in any other discussion that is not related to the specific application.


Add your name to the speakers list


To register to speak and have your name added to the speakers list, do one of the following:


• Call the Public Hearing phone line at 604-829-4238.
• Send an email to publichearing@vancouver.ca.
• Go to the Public Hearing at least 40 minutes early and register to speak at the sign-up table.


Your name will be added to the list of speakers. The list of persons registered to speak will be posted near the entrance of the Council Chamber on the evening of the public hearing.
If you provide your email address when registering to speak, we will let you know of any changes or additions to the public hearing should the hearing continue on another date.

Submitting Comments to a Public Hearing


In addition to having an opportunity to speak to Council at a public hearing, members of the public can submit comments. The comments will be distributed to all members of Council. These comments, in addition to the speaker comments, will be considered by Council in making a decision.


All submitted comments will be distributed to Council and posted on the City’s website provided that the comments:

  • identify the author by name;
  • are received by the City Clerk less than 15 minutes after the last speaker is heard by Council at the public hearing and the Chair announces the close of the speakers list; and
  • do not exceed 1500 words if the comments are submitted after the start of the public hearing.
 

Comments received prior to the start of the public hearing are not limited to 1500 words. Comments that do not identify the author by name will not be circulated to Council or posted on the web. Late comments and those exceeding 1500 words submitted after the start of the public hearing will be distributed to members of Council after the application is approved AND the bylaw is enacted.


Contact information such as email address, phone number, and address will removed from submissions before making the information publicly available.


To submit public comments to Council, you can:


• Send an email to mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca
• Write a letter to City Hall, City Clerk’s Office, 3rd Floor, 453 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4


Petitions

Petitions are considered public comments. All petitions are to include a statement of that clearly indicates whether the names included on the petition are in favour or against the application. Petitions should include the hand-printed names, original signatures, and addresses of the petitioners.

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What happens at a Public Hearing?

Agenda package


Council may consider more than one application at a public hearing meeting. Each application has its own information package, which contains:


  • The item number and title page (green paper).
  • A summary of the proposal and the staff recommendation, including details of any conditions of approval recommended to Council.
  • A draft bylaw, detailing the proposed changes to the existing bylaw.
  • A background report from City staff to Council, outlining and assessing the application (pink paper).
  • A copy of the courtesy notification letter (if applicable) that was sent to surrounding property owners advising them of the application and the Public Hearing.
  • Draft guidelines (if applicable) to augment administration of the bylaw changes, if approved (blue paper).
  • Memos to Council, providing information (if any) that arose after the background report or draft bylaw had been prepared (yellow paper).
  • All public comments received by 5 pm three days before the public hearing and any subsequent public comments received.


Order of speakers


Speakers are called on to make their presentations in the order in which they are registered.


Speakers who are speaking on their own behalf or on behalf of an organization are limited to five minutes and can only speak once. To make a strong presentation, you will want to keep your comments concise.


If the speaker is speaking on behalf of 3 or more persons or 3 or more organizations, they may speak for up to 8 minutes but only once. The persons or a representative of the organizations must also be present.


Speakers may also submit public comments to Council.


Council will hear ALL registered speakers. If there are many people who have signed up to speak, you may have to attend more than one meeting.


How the meeting is conducted


Council's role at a public hearing is to listen to the public. Council does not debate or challenge the comments being offered, but may question what they hear to make sure they understand what is being said. All comments are to only address the merits of the application being considered by Council.


This is what happens for each agenda item:


  1. The City Clerk reads the agenda item. The clerk also provides a summary to Council of all the public comments that has been received about the agenda item or the application.
  2. City Planning staff explain the application and the staff recommendation.
  3. The applicant is then called upon to add any further explanation or reasons why the application should be approved. They may also comment on the staff recommendation.
  4. The Chair, who is usually the Mayor, then calls on the people who have registered to speak to the agenda item. Every person wishing to speak to Council is given an opportunity to do so but may only speak once. Council members may ask clarifying questions of each speaker.
  5. When the last person on the speakers list has spoken, the Chair will call three times for any others who wish to address Council on the application. Once those persons have been heard, the Chair will announce the close of the speakers list.
  6. After the speakers list is closed, theapplicant can make brief summary comments. Staff may also make brief summary comments. Council members may also ask questionsofstaff or the applicant.
  7. Council may recess fifteen minutes after the close of the speakers list. At that time, the clerk will collect any remaining public comments received since the distribution of the last package of public comments, distribute them to Council for their review and consideration, and post the public comments to the City’s website.
  8. Council will then begin their discussion and debate of the application.

Council frequently will proceed to immediately discuss the application and reach a decision. When this discussion happens, it is a discussion of City Council -- that is, no further public comments can be heard.


When Council members need more time to consider what they have heard, Council adjourns and conducts its discussion and decision at a later date, most often at the next Regular Council meeting.


Council discussion


During the Council discussion, Council members may ask for clarification or technical advice from staff in response to possible decisions Council may be considering.


At some point in the discussion, a member of Council will make a motion to refuse the application, approve the application including the draft bylaw, or approve the application and draft bylaw in an amended form. Each member of Council is given the opportunity to speak either in favour or against the motion. Alternatively, they may propose an amendment to the motion.


Council decision


After all members of Council wishing to speak to motion being considered by Council have done so, the Mayor calls for a vote on the motion.


If it fails, other motions are often put forward and voted on. If the Council decision is to refuse the application including the related draft bylaw amendments, a similar application may not be submitted for one calendar year. Council may waive this period for consideration of a new application, if, in its opinion, circumstances have changed.


If the application is approved including the draft bylaw and any amendments made by Council, the draft bylaw will come back before Council for enactment in a Regular Council meeting.

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When the By-law is Enacted

Depending on whether there were conditions to be met as part of the approval-in-principle of the draft bylaw, it may be a few days or several months before the bylaw is actually enacted by Council.

From the point at which Council approves the application and draft bylaw to the point at which Council enacts the bylaw, Council may not consider any additional public comments received during that period. Council can only consider what they heard during the public hearing.

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