New Study Paper Examines Public Hearings on Land-Use Bylaws


June 2022

In its recently published Study Paper on Public Hearings: An Examination of Public Participation in the Adoption of Local Bylaws on Land Use and Planning, BCLI delves into the history of legislation requiring a public hearing before adopting or changing a community plan or zoning bylaw and discusses critical and supportive views of this legislation.

Since the enactment of the Town Planning Act in 1925, BC has had provincial legislation requiring local governments to hold a public hearing before adopting a bylaw regulating land use. This legislation is currently found in the Local Government Act, which sets out the framework for holding public hearings. Case law has also made a significant contribution to defining local governments’ obligations in public hearings.

Public hearings have long been viewed as an important part of local control over land use and planning. Some commentators have even called them cornerstones of democracy. But they have also recently been criticized as a means to empower private interests over the public interest.

The study paper tells the story of the development of public-hearing law in BC and summarizes the commentary on it. It’s available for free at