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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The zoning board of appeal : a study of its role in the implementation of municipal planning policy in British Columbia Dhillon, Jagdev Singh

Abstract

Zoning is a municipal land use control adopted to protect the public health, safety, general welfare and to provide the economic, social and aesthetic advantages resulting from the orderly planned use of available land» The concept of zoning has changed from a simple restriction to certain uses of land, to a key technique in the implementation of municipal planning policy. Logically the progress of a municipal plan would depend on how strictly its zoning by-law and other regulations are enforced; however, in some instances the strict enforcement of these regulations may cause undue or unnecessary hardship to the owner of a property. Just as the Chancellor's Courts arose in England in order to provide individual justice in cases where the harsh and universal mandates of the common law caused obvious hardship, the Zoning Board of Appeal has been created in order to provide flexibility in the administration of the zoning by-law, where its strict enforcement would cause undue or unnecessary hardship. Zoning enabling legislation provides some standards which are intended to guide a Zoning Board of Appeal in its operation; however the statutory standards specified under the enabling legislation for determination of "undue or unnecessary hardship" and the directions for issuance of the "Notice of Hearing" are vague. The enabling legislation does not indicate the details to be included in the "Notice of Hearing" or the details of information required in a "Notice of Appeal". In addition to the deficiencies of the legislation there generally exists an inadequate relationship between a Zoning Board of Appeal and its respective municipal planning department. The members of the Board are not supplied with adequate information about the zoning and planning objectives of the municipality. They do not feel concerned about such information and tend to confine themselves to the zoning by-law and to make decisions without full understand of the planning context; as such, their decisions tend to be inconsistent with the zoning and planning objectives of the municipality. The hypothesis is advanced that "a positive statement of zoning objectives and planning principles together with a uniform set of procedures to be followed by the Zoning Board of Appeal is necessary for effective implementation of municipal planning policy". Following a review of the traditional and contemporary concepts of zoning and planning, a Case Study is conducted to explore reasons for inconsistencies in the decisions of the Zoning Board of Appeal. For the Case Study three Zoning Boards of Appeal in the Vancouver Metropolitan Area of British Columbia are selected. The conclusions drawn from the Case Study together with observations based on a review of the contemporary experience provide evidence that members of the Zoning Boards of Appeal are not provided with a positive statement of zoning objectives and planning principles. Because of ambiguities in the enabling legislation and lack of definition of standards and format, every Zoning Board of Appeal tends to follow inconsistent procedure in its operation. It is also observed that the members of the Zoning Boards of Appeal are not appraised of the potential impact of their decisions, a situation which can work both ways, that is, it may help in the implementation of municipal planning policy or alternatively it may cause obstructions by granting incompatible relaxations. Investigation of the hypothesis has provided a needed focus in reviewing the position of the Zoning Board of Appeal in the implementation of municipal planning policy. It is concluded that the hypothesis appears to be a reasonable and practical solution for making the Zoning Board of Appeal an effective tool in the implementation of municipal planning policy. Certain feasible legislative and administrative improvements are recommended and a method of implementation of these recommendations at the provincial and municipal levels of government is suggested.

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