Manitoba

Manitoba wants new body to hear land-use appeals by Winnipeg, other municipalities

Manitoba intends to move forward next year on a means of second-guessing land-use decisions by the City of Winnipeg and other municipalities.

Province proposes new quasi-judicial body or expansion of existing municipal board

Manitoba wants to create a new body to hear planning, zoning and permitting appeals. (Gregory Bull/The Associated Press)

Manitoba intends to move forward next year on a means of second-guessing land-use decisions by the City of Winnipeg and other municipalities.

On Friday afternoon, the province announced a plan to implement recommendations from its review of municipal planning, zoning and permittting, which described Winnipeg's planning, property and development department as dysfunctional.

The 12-point plan follows up on Premier Brian Pallister's stated support for a new planning authority to oversee development in Winnipeg and its neighbouring municipalities.

The plan calls for the creation of a new "quasi-judicial tribunal" to "hear a wide range of planning, zoning and permitting appeals from across the province" — or to expand the powers of the existing municipal board to achieve the same goal.

The plan also calls for changes to legislation to allow this to proceed during the spring session of legislature.

Jeremy Davis, a spokesperson for Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, said Friday evening the mayor was just learning of the announcement through the media and would review its implications. 

"While we will review this late Friday announcement, it's troubling that a more collaborative approach isn't being demonstrated by Minister Rochelle Squires and the provincial government," he said via email. 

City council planning chair Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) said he's going to keep an open mind about the change.

"Our current appeals-committee model is broken at the moment. The committee changes every few months," he said, referring to to rotating membership on city council's appeals committee.

"We have room to improve on this. We can have two identical applications come forward and one gets rejected and one gets approved, depending on who is sitting on the committee."

Mayes said he remains annoyed, however, by unsubstantiated claims included in the provincial planning, zoning and permitting review.

"I'm still waiting for that list of schools and daycares the city has supposedly delayed," he quipped.

The provincial action plan also called for the establishment of unspecified service standards for processing permitting and zoning applications.

The action plan suggests the province will track all applications electronically.

Mayes said he is skeptical that will improve service to developers.

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