City of Prince Rupert proposes a bylaw change on July 25 to allow fewer newspaper public notifications and more online notices. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

City of Prince Rupert proposes a bylaw change on July 25 to allow fewer newspaper public notifications and more online notices. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

City of Prince Rupert public notices proposed to be less public for those without internet

Proposed bylaw amendments will allow fewer newspaper notices and more online

A proposed city bylaw amendment allowing less public notification via the local newspaper will be up for debate after Prince Rupert City Council passed the first, second and third reading of the Public Notice Bylaw 3500-2022 on July 25.

The changes would enable staff and council to move more efficiently through notification and bylaw consideration processes, Veronica Stewart, city communications manager, presented in a report to council.

“Rather than having a requirement to publish in the newspaper for two consecutive weeks as per the current standard, the proposed bylaw would require publication in the newspaper for a minimum of one week, alongside the use of the city’s notice section of our website at princerupert.ca and the city’s official Facebook page as alternative locations,” she stated.

For those residents who do not have internet access, this means public information notices such as bylaw changes, requests for feedback and public hearings will need to be sought out by the resident at the City Hall notice board or in the one edition of the paper in which they are published.

City residents will have the opportunity to voice concerns or support the proposed bylaw at a yet-to-be-scheduled public hearing or a time when feedback may be presented.

Stewart said cutting back on newspaper notices and using the internet medium will meet all notification timing requirements under provincial legislation, called the Community Charter, which guides local government activities.

Several municipalities across the province have encountered challenges with changing newspaper publication conditions and circulation, Stewart’s report reads.

Given those evolving conditions, in February 2022, the province amended the Community Charter to enable municipal governments to adopt a bylaw to provide alternative methods of publication. The amendment allows the City of Prince Rupert to propose updates to its public notification methods.

There is a two-week notification requirement for some public notices, and with city council meetings being held every two weeks on a Monday night, combined with newspaper advertising deadlines the requirements between meetings can not be met, Stewart said.

“For instance, if council approves a bylaw to move to public hearing at a Monday evening council meeting, that hearing cannot be scheduled for the next council meeting (in two weeks) because two-week public notification requirements under Section 94.1 [of the Community Charter] cannot practically be met given advertising deadlines,” she explained.


 
K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist 
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City of Prince Rupert