Comments from the Observatory Civic Association in response to the call for comments and suggestions for the review of the MPBL

  1. The MPBL and its processes.
    1. The City has twice previously amended the Municipal Planning bylaw, in November 2015 and in March 2019. On both occasions, the Bylaw amendments were copious (58 amendments in 2015 and 87 amendments in 2019) but communities were only given one month to comment on both occasions.
    2. The OCA and other civics in their comments on the amendment noted the lack of time and lack of engagement with communities when seeking comment on the amendment and made recommendations regarding how consultation and inputs could be done better. These included both allowing more time and providing for capacity building for communities to engage with the materials. On both occasions these recommendations were noted by the City but not acted upon.
    3. It seems this time around, the City is pursuing a different route by putting out the MPBL and first inviting comments on what needs to be changed. This is probably an improvement if it means that communities’ comments will be taken seriously.
    4. However, our experience has been that comments from civics and community members are not given the same attention or importance when compared to practitioners who are in the built environment field. Our analysis of the 2015 MPBL amendments were that not one of the proposals made by the community organisations submitting comments were adopted while those comments that were accepted were predominantly from built environment professionals.
    5. It therefore seems there is an inbuilt bias in the way in which the MPBL is conceptualized which places greater store on comments coming from an architect, a planner or a land surveyor than they is given to comments by ordinary community members.
    6. This cannot be consistent with the requirements of the Municipal Services Act which requires Municipalities to create conditions for meaningful participation by communities in the decisions affecting them at Municipal level.