"Alternate Approval Processes" (AAPs) have been used by various provincial and regional governments to sidestep around referendum requirements when the powers that be consider the issue minor. They are one of the few "negative billing requirement" type processes allowed by the Provincial Government.
In North Vancouver District the most recent one is to undedicate and detach a 5 x 150 metre section of Kirkstone Park. It was used last year to undedicate a portion of Keithlynn park for the new Mountain Highway interchange.
The two situations are entirely different - Keithlynn was to support a provincial government highways project. Kirkstone's is to facilitate the re-development of Emery Place by a private for-profit developer.
In his North Shore News letter Councillor Robin Hicks asserts the Kirkstone lands that are part of the AAP are "developable slivers". The catch is that in DNV parks there are NUMEROUS such "slivers" most of which contain trails connecting roadways and many are heavily used.
What makes Alternate Approval Processes so problematic is the high number of petitioners required and the short time allowed to collect them. Province-wide, 95+% of AAPs are "approved".
Many people feel AAPs are an abuse of power by governments and should be strictly controlled. It is next to impossible to get 10% of the entire community on pretty much any local area issue!
My personal view is that AAPs need to be discontinued altogether. I have heard the arguments on both sides and believe strongly AAPs do far more harm than good.
Even if AAPs are allowed to continue serious reforms are urgently needed.
Here are the legal amendments I advocate:
- Any AAP application needs to be advertised on the home page of the municipal website "above the fold" as well as in local print media
- AAP petitions should be able to be signed online on the municipal site. (I offer as an example the British Parliament site where there are strict legal requirements on what the government must do based on varying numbers of public responses.)
- The current requirement of 10% of the electorate signing an AAP petition should be lowered - I note that if the current AAP 10% requirement was required for the 2014 election only Mayor Walton (acclaimed), Councillors Muri and Mackay-Dunn would have been elected. I suggest a requirement of half the votes received by the lowest polling Councillor who was elected in the past general election.