Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna council streamlines development approval process

Council voted unanimously in favour that DVP applications be separated into major and minor catergories

Kelowna council is making some changes as to how certain permits and applications will be presented during its Tuesday night meetings.

But council did not accept all of the recommendations brought forward by city staff.

Staff recommended changes to both development variance permits (DVP) and public hearings during a report to council on Monday — council approving the former and nixing the latter.

Council voted unanimously in favour of DVP applications be separated into two categories — major and minor — with a different approval process for each.

Major DVP applications that require significant variances will continue to be held on Tuesdays during the city’s public hearings, but minor applications will be held on the Monday meetings and will be dealt with in much the same way as standard development permits.

Minor DVPs will be applications in which the variances are small, staff supported, and consistent with the Official Community Plan. A maximum of three variances is allowed in a DVP classified as minor.

There will still be an opportunity for public input on the minor applications but it will be through correspondence rather than in-person at a council meeting.

Major DVPs will be applications with severe or numerous variances that the city believes will get a lot of public correspondence.

“This puts more focus on major DVPs which are generally where the higher value in terms of the proposed change from the bylaw,” said deputy city clerk Laura Bentley. “For this to work, clear criteria would have to be set to differentiate between the two.”

The change could potentially see the often lengthy late-night public hearings shortened, said Bentley.

However, council was not favourable to further changes to public hearings.

While it was torn on the issue, council ultimately decided against staff’s recommendation to hear from applicants during the Monday meeting rather than on Tuesday.

The change, intended to give more decision-making time to councillors and streamline processes, was met with hard-nosed opposition by most of council — being quashed in a 7-2 vote.

Councillors Luke Stack and Gail Given were the lone voices in favour of the change, saying that the change would keep the ‘public’ in public hearings.

The rest of the council, didn’t see applicant presentations as much of a problem, sharing similar sentiment to Coun. Ryan Donn.

“The public wants to hear from the developer at that time,” said Donn.

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