Urban planning advisory committee

The Planning and Development Act gives city council the power to create a Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) by law. This working group consists of at least one board member along with a resident appointed by the former, in order to guide, direct and support its urban planning action. A designated officer, who also happens to be the building and environment inspector, acts as secretary assists the committee.

First and foremost, it is important to understand the basis of the PAC’s function. It is recognized that although the PAC has primary power of recommendation to City Council, it does not have any decision-making authority. Decisional power if reserved for elected officials only. Also, the PAC is not responsible for holding public consultations required by the Planning and Development Act for the Council. However, the Committee does take its role seriously, as it represents the public voice in the collective interest.

In theory, the PAC has the power to make recommendations on all matters relating to urban planning, subdivision and construction:

  • As a first step, the PAC must assist City Council in the development of its planning policy. Indeed, members must consider any written request for amendment of the planning regulations that have been submitted by the Council or a designated officer, study subdivision projects, suggest necessary changes, and report back to the Council. The Committee must also hear complaints arising from the requirements of planning regulations and make recommendations to the Council.
  • Also, City Council must receive the recommendations of the PAC prior to granting a minor variance, the establishment of a CDP(Comprehensive Development Plan), an architectural implementation and integration plan (AIIP), a conditional use or SCMPSUI (Special construction and modification projects or special use of an immovable).
  • More formally, it is mandatory to consult the PAC when reporting on the status of historical monuments and heritage sites, who then have the duty to consult the owners concerned.

At PAC meetings, people may present their cases, but decisions are made behind closed doors on anonymous recommendations. The PAC makes recommendations via the minutes to the counseling session, and the Council then makes a decision taking into account these recommendations. Recommendations may not be fully implemented, however a justification of the decisions will be provided.

The City of Huntingdon’s by-law on the PAC includes provisions relating to the number of members (seven (7) members), the term of office of these members (limit of two (2) years with possibility of renewal) in addition to the responsibilities attached to the positions. The by-law also states the frequency of meetings, the method of summons, the requirement of a mandatory quorum, the voting method, the casting vote of the chairman and keeping the minutes. In short, the by-law establishes rules of internal management.

All applications that require the presence of the PAC must be submitted formally to the City of Huntingdon accompanied by all documents and information necessary for a proper understanding of projects, or assessing their impact on their host environment.

For information about a request or procedure, please contact the building and environment inspector.