Saturday, March 03, 2018

Alternate Approval Process - Valuable Tool or Abuse of Power?

"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.


Hazen Colbert said...


Since I was the lowest polling council challenger at the last municipal election I may be uniquely qualified to comment on your last paragraph.

IMHO I take the position that polling last is much like finishing last in the NHL and that the bottom finisher should get the equivalent of the first draft. In the context of the AAP, I think the bottom finisher should have, over the council term, the right of veto over any AAP decision. While it may sound silly, equally as silly is turning a public park into a private road and parking lot for a for-profit condo developer.

What do people think?

Lyle Craver said...

Perhaps I wasn't sufficiently clear - I said half of the lowest ELECTED Councillor which was Roger Bassam at 5825 votes.
2014 DNV Election Results

Half of that would be 2913 which while still a tough hurdle to reach in 4-6 weeks (particularly on a neighbourhood issue) is not absurd. However the important thing is the end the "hard copy" petition requirement which in 2018 is beyond absurd.

Hazen Colbert said...


I was not aware that Bassam polled so low.

As you know Bassam ran for the Liberal nomination in the riding back in 2011. There were about 600 voters. I recall the winner getting about 400 votes, second place about 200, with Bassam in third with 3 - he, his wife and presumably Don Bell.

Anonymous said...

"Valuable Tool or abuse of power"

While it has the potential to be abused, I don't think it should be removed as an option. If you don't like how it is being used, remove the council, but there are certainly situations where engaging in an entire, community wide, referendum makes zero sense.

Anonymous said...