This month I wanted to talk about Bylaws, what they are and the process involved in approving and amending them. On September 6 Town Council will be discussing amendments to the Land Use Bylaw. This bylaw determines how land can be developed in Drumheller.
So firstly what is a bylaw?
Bylaws are the laws a municipality devises. The 'by' in bylaw is an old norse word meaning town. A bylaw is simply a town or local law.
Bylaws can't be created out of thin air. Canadian municipalities don't have constitutional status of their own so they can only pass laws authorized by other levels of government. The Municipal Government Act and the Traffic Safety Act delegate authority for local bylaws. The 'Whereas' clause you see at the beginning of bylaws usually explains where the authority for the bylaw is coming from.
Some bylaws are mandatory for example every municipality in Alberta must pass a land use bylaw. Some bylaws are only required if a municipality wants to carry out a certain type of activity such as designating heritage buildings in their area.
What is a bylaw reading?
You will read in the paper or hear on the radio that a bylaw has received "first reading" or it has passed "third reading". All bylaws must pass three readings before they can become law. This means that council has three separate chances to consider the pros and cons on a particular bylaw. This regulation is there to ensure that every bylaw is carefully considered before it is passed. First reading is a test of whether or not council wishes to consider an issue at all. It is not usually an indication of whether or not council supports the bylaw. Second reading is when council can debate the issue, make amendments and vote again. This time council is voting on whether or nor they support the bylaw. Third reading is the last chance for debate, amendments and voting. If a bylaw fails any of the readings it dies.
Does the public have opportunity for input?
Lots of things can happen in between bylaw readings. In some case like Land use Bylaws, municipalities are required to hold a public hearing after first reading has passed, but before second reading is considered. The first reading must be passed so that council can decide if they support continuing with the debate at all. After the public hearing council will call for a second reading which is when they can debate the bylaw, consider public input, propose changes and ultimately vote on whether or not it should pass.
Council can decide to hold a public information session or gather public input in other ways even when it is not required by legislation. Sometimes Council will ask municipal staff to provide more information before a final decision is made. This usually happens after a second reading when council has had a chance to debate the issue and determine if they need more input before continuing.
September 6th meeting
Here are the details of the September 6th meeting about Amendments to the Land Use Bylaw (bylaw 10-08).
The purpose of Bylaw 10-16 is to consider amendments to Land Use Bylaw No. 10-08 to provide clarification for existing land uses as well as new definitions; amend portions of the general regulations; and refine standards pertaining to front setbacks within the Town of Drumheller.
Oral and written comments and suggestions are invited and should be addressed to the specifics of the proposed amendment. They may be made by any persons or group of persons or person acting on his/her or their behalf who claims to be affected by the proposed amendment, and by any other persons that the Council wishes to hear at the hearing. Written submissions may be made by the persons above, and may be received in the TOwn of Drumheller office by 4.00pm on September 6th 2016. Oral presentations may be made at the hearing by the persons above whether or not they have made a written presentation. The time limit of oral presentations is subject to the direction of the Chairperson.
So September 6 is your opportunity to be part of the discussion. If you have any questions feel free to call the CAO's office on 403 823 1339.
As with any Bylaws under consideration details can be found in the council agenda package which is posted on the town's website http://www.dinosaurvalley.com/published-agenda a few days prior to the meeting.
For more information on any of Drumheller's bylaws again contact the CAO's office at firstname.lastname@example.org