People in the Cowichan Valley Regional District now have the opportunity to be more engaged in the district’s alternative approval process.
The board voted last week to establish new processes to be followed before and during an APP.
An APP enables local governments to directly engage citizens about a proposed bylaw intended to undertake long-term borrowing, a boundary extension, establish a new regional district service or other matter requiring electoral approval.
It’s considered to be a less costly and time-consuming way of asking the electorate’s permission to proceed with the adoption of, for example, a borrowing bylaw than resorting to a referendum.
Its use has been controversial, however.
Under the new process adopted last week, the electoral-response period has increased from a minimum of 30 to 60 days to allow more time for feedback.
Community engagement, including opportunities to provide feedback on the proposed project, will now also occur prior to the setting of the AAP electoral-response deadline.
As well, weekly supplemental newspaper advertising will occur during the response period and electoral-response forms will now be accepted by email, fax, regular mail and hand delivery.
Jon Lefebure, chairman of the CVRD, said the board voted unanimously for the changes after an error during the APP process for establishing a watershed management service for the Cowichan River watershed last fall.
The APP had to be postponed after some of the properties planned to be part of the new management service were inadvertently omitted during the mandatory public advertising for the APP.
“We received a lot of public feedback on how inadequate our APP process was, so now we will have more time and opportunities to get more information to the public on the APPs,” Lefebure said.
“This will help people understand what we are trying to accomplish and give them the opportunity to provide a more informed vote on these issues. I expect our first use of the new APP process will be this fall when the Cowichan River watershed issue will be raised again,” he said.