Letter Campaign to Municipal Affairs

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ACTION REQUIRED: Letter Campaign to Municipal Affairs – Postpone the Public Hearing Apr. 27

A number of residents that have applied to participate in the public hearing on Monday April 27th regarding the Development Permit Application for Phase 1 of the Arts and Learning Campus (i.e. Library building on Ethel Tucker Park). They are being denied their democratic right to speak before Council due to “technical issues” regarding the video conferencing equipment and bandwidth at Town Hall. This is all despite the advertising of the Public Hearing in the Western Wheel declaring that residents could address Council for 5 minutes via teleconferencing during the public portion pf the meeting.

We understand that Covid-19 and social distancing protocols are not allowing the public to appear in person at the meeting, however that does not relieve the duty required by the Municipal Government Act for public to be able to participate in the Public Hearing.

We are asking Municipal Affairs to intervene postpone the Public Hearing until these issues can be properly resolved and public hearing advertising with the correct time and public engagement method can be performed as required in the Municipal Government Act (MGA).

We need your help! Please copy and paste the below letter before Monday and fill out your personal information at the bottom and email it to our Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu, MLA RJ Sigurdson, and Mayor Bill Robertson. Their emails are:

Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu – minister.municipalaffairs@gov.ab.ca
cc MLA for Highwood RJ Sigurdson – Barb.Castell.HWD@assembly.ab.ca
cc Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson – okotoksmayor@okotoks.ca

Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu

Minister:

I, the undersigned, request that you suspend the public hearing scheduled for Monday, April 27 in Council Chambers in the Town of Okotoks  for the following reasons:

1.  Under COV19 Regulation of 099/2020 passed March 26, 2020 no public gatherings of more than 15 are allowed which makes it impossible to conduct a public hearing under the provisions of the MGA Act.

2. Adequate public participation is required under Sections 3, 5, 570 and 572 (applicable sections provided to us by your staff in a phone conversation of April 24) and these sections may have been contravened.

3. Adequate notification was provided to the citizens via publication in the newspaper and social media feeds of the Town and individual Councillors.  As per the MGA Act they listed the time and place of the hearing, the requirements to participate specifically stating the deadline for submission of letters, and requirement for verbal presentation which was to be by teleconference.

4. Many citizens of Okotoks met those requirements but:

  1. The letters are to be summarized by legislative services for presentation to the Councillors – actual letters to be attached at a later date.  This does not constitute the right of individuals to be heard at the hearing, and a summary may not reflect the varied individual concerns.
  2. Videos were denied
  3. Verbal presentations were denied on the basis that the technology would be unable to handle them.  Although they were told they could submit their information via letter, their right to appear before Council has been denied.

5.  On April 25, the Town of Okotoks changed the hearing time from 7PM to 2PM notifying the citizens by social media.  This would appear to be in contravention of adequate notice of a public hearing.
Citizens have many concerns regarding the Development Permit being contemplated and want to be heard as is the right under the MGA.

I implore you to intervene and suspend this hearing until a proper hearing can be held, after the lifting of Regulation 099/2020.   MLA for Highwood RJ Sigurdson, has all the background information on this file as provided by the citizens of Okotoks.

Dated this day ___________of April, 2020
Name_________________________________________________________
Address_______________________________________________________
Contact phone number____________________________________________

cc:  RJ Sigurdson, MLA for Highwood
Bill Robertson, Mayor of Okotoks


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