Back off

City coun­cil wants prov­ince to change leg­is­la­tion to take away IRAC’s abil­ity to over­turn de­ci­sions

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STE­WART

Char­lot­te­town City Coun­cil is tired of the se­cond-guess­ing and wants it to stop.

The Is­land Reg­u­la­tory and Ap­peals Com­mis­sion (IRAC) re­cently over­turned coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to re­ject an ap­pli­ca­tion to re­zone a piece of prop­erty off Kens­ing­ton Road for a pro­posed con­do­minium de­vel­op­ment.

At its monthly pub­lic meet­ing Mon­day night, coun­cil voted unan­i­mously to ask the pro­vin­cial govern­ment, through the Fed­er­a­tion of P.E.I. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, to amend the Plan­ning Act so that IRAC can only up­hold a coun­cil de­ci­sion or re­turn the mat­ter back to coun­cil for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion.

Over the past 10 years, there have been more than 6,500 per­mits is­sued by Char­lot­te­town’s plan­ning depart­ment.

In 20 of those cases, the mat­ter was ap­pealed to IRAC. In 10 of those 20 cases, hear­ings were ac­tu­ally held. In five of those cases, IRAC over­ruled coun­cil’s de­ci­sion. In the five other cases, the com­mis­sion up­held coun­cil’s de­ci­sion.

Mayor Clifford Lee says when peo­ple elect a coun­cil they be­lieve that coun­cil is go­ing to make de­ci­sions for plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment.

“To have an­other body come in and have the au­thor­ity to (over­rule) the elected bod­ies’ de­ci­sion, quite frankly, I think is wrong,’’ Lee said fol­low­ing the coun­cil meet­ing.

“I don’t think the leg­is­la­tion should have ever been changed to al­low IRAC to have that au­thor­ity.’’

Lee also serves as chair­man of the city’s in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal affairs com­mit­tee and has al­ready met with the pro­vin­cial govern­ment on the mat­ter.

He says it was a good meet­ing, that the city’s con­cerns will be taken un­der ad­vise­ment but doesn’t ex­pect a quick res­o­lu­tion.

It would, af­ter all, re­quire the leg­is­la­ture to sit and deal with it.

Lee says hav­ing to de­fend its de­ci­sions be­fore the com­mis­sion not only comes with a le­gal cost to the city but ties up staff.

“Some­times it holds up de­vel­op­ment and some­times it stops de­vel­op­ment from tak­ing place al­to­gether be­cause, in this in­stance, this ap­pli­ca­tion has been with IRAC for a year and a half be­fore they made the de­ci­sion. I don’t be­lieve any de­vel­op­ment should be held up that long, re­gard­less of what the de­ci­sion is at the end of the day.’’

Lee also dis­misses any no­tion that coun­cil should con­sider that what­ever de­ci­sion is made on a res­o­lu­tion could be over­turned by IRAC.

“What I think coun­cil needs to do and what coun­cil has done an ad­mirable job of has been . . . bas­ing de­ci­sions on the feed­back coun­cil re­ceives from the com­mu­nity. (Coun­cil­lors) lis­ten to the peo­ple who live in the com­mu­nity.

“That’s who I am re­spon­si­ble to and that’s who mem­bers of coun­cil are re­spon­si­ble to. We’re the ones who have to go out there and get elected . . . the body that is ac­count­able to the cit­i­zens of Char­lot­te­town.’’



Coun. Terry Bernard speaks dur­ing the monthly meet­ing of Char­lot­te­town City Coun­cil Mon­day. Bernard is vice-chair of the in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal affairs com­mit­tee that in­tro­duced a mo­tion to have the prov­ince limit the power of the Is­land Reg­u­la­tory and Ap­peal Com­mis­sion to over­turn coun­cil de­ci­sions.

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