The public has had numerous ways to interact with the District of Kent over the past year, as it set out to write a draft bylaw for its Official Community Plan.
Council also made a decision not to play favourites with any special groups or organizations while creating the OCP. Instead, they wanted to hear from individuals from all walks of life.
And for those reasons, council has refused to allow an official meeting of the Kent Agricultural Advisory Committee to discuss ways to provide input to the District on the draft OCP.
The recommendation for council to allow KAAC to hold the special was put forward by Coun. Holger Schwichtenberg at the Mar. 24 council meeting.
While he was in favour of allowing the group to meet, officially or unofficially, the rest of council present voted against the recommendation. (Darcy Striker was absent.)
“I have to turn this down,” said Mayor John Van Laerhoven. “At the last meeting we said we weren’t going to go to special groups and we have to stand by that… We said no, we weren’t going to play favourites.”
There was no mention in the recommendation of further recommendations that could potentially come out of such a meeting. The KAAC operates separate from council, and is not a governing body. Its role is to make recommendations to council.
There have been several workshops held throughout the OCP draft process with the help of a company called Urban Systems, held at different times of day and in different venues to encourage participation from all cross sections of individuals. The District has been open to letters, phone calls, emails and in-person visits with staff. There was also an online forum through a system called PlaceSpeak, where residents could pinpoint areas of concern for future growth.
While considering the recommendation from KAAC, Coun. Duane Post wondered why the committee would need permission to meet to discuss their concerns.
It was decided that if the KAAC wasn’t intending to present recommendations to council, then they were free to meet informally.