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The Town Planning Advisory Committee is mandated by the Municipal Council to give its recommendations on the requests that are submitted for analysis regarding town planning and land development, to guide and support the Council’s actions in terms of town planning.
The committee’s views are relayed to the Municipal Council via recommendations. The group is made up of at least one elected official, and citizens, who put their life experience to contribution and bring their personal concerns at the Municipal level in regards to the development of their locality. Such a committee brings citizens closer to town planning issues. In some cases, the elected officials and citizens can provide a specific expertise and/or represent a certain socio-economic group concerned by commercial development, protecting the environment, safeguarding heritage, and so on.
Constitution and Composition
This committee must be made official by a by-law adopted by the Municipal Council, state the numbers of members, the duration of their mandate and the committees responsibilities. Its powers are as described in 146, An Act respecting Land use planning and development.
Currently, the members are : Éric L’Heureux (secretary), Claude P. Lemire (Councillor), Jean-Pierre Dorais (Councillor), Patrice Germain, president, Louise Cossette, Jacques Hébert, Denis Senécal and Michel Davidson. Click here to consult 2013 Calendar of Committee meetings
The Municipal Council can assign powers to study and recommend in various areas concerning town planning, zoning, parcelling and construction. For example, the Municipality seeks its town planning committee’s counsel to assess the need to amend or not its development plan and town planning by-laws, including the Zoning by-law.
Although the advisory committee is fundamentally a consultative body, not a decisional one, it never the less plays an indispensable role in the planning and administration of the municipal territory. In fact, in the last few years, the legislator has made the consulting and getting recommendations from the advisory committee mandatory before Council, an essential condition for the approval of several processes such as: a minor derogation (1985); a Master development plan (1987); an implantation and architectural integration plan (PIIA) (1989); a certificate of authorisation for a conditional use, for a particular construction project, modification, or the occupation of a building (2002). Furthermore, when a Municipality has an advisory committee created according to An Act respecting Land Use Planning and Development, it is this advisory committee who is consulted to attribute the Heritage monument or heritage site status, and which communicates with the owners.
These are the only legal dispositions attributing a formal role to the committee in regards to consulting the public. The advisory committee does not have the responsibility to hold, in lieu of the Council, public consultation sessions as dictated by according to An Act respecting Land Use Planning and Development.
How does it work?
The constituting by-law can allow the advisory committee to establish its own rules of internal government, anticipate the member’s mandate to be at most 2 years, and that it can be renewable. In that respect, the committee can take its inspiration from the rules governing the municipal Council’s conduct to define, among other things, the frequency and the way to notify members about the meetings, the quorum required to hold a meeting, the terms in regards to the voting of the members, the prominent vote of the president as well as keeping the meeting’s minutes.
Council can also ask the town planner to be part of the committee; his assistance can be beneficial to fulfilling the committee’s responsibilities. Although by law it is not impossible to nominate municipal employees to sit at the table, for reasons of objectivity and neutrality clearly fall in favour of their exclusion. If committee members have the right to vote, the resource persons don’t.
The Council can vote to make sums of money available to the committee, which it may need to accomplish its tasks. The Council can also reimburse committee members expenses created by their involvement, whether they are elected or not.
In order to de-politicise the dossiers’ treatment, in most municipalities, an applicant can submit his or her request to members of the committee, but the decisions and the analysis are taken and made behind closed doors, according to anonymous recommendations. Further, as this committee’s recommendations are not the only advice the Council can take into account before taking a decision, holding such discussions in public could mislead the population in terms of the Council’s decision.
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