Renovate the Public Hearing Project

Pre-Development Public Engagement & Legal Reforms to Support Housing Supply

Consultation period has ended

If you have any questions please contact [email protected].

BCLI is exploring improvements to BC’s legislation on public engagement when a local government is enacting a land-use bylaw. Our Renovate the Public Hearing Project provides an opportunity to think about public engagement on land use from first principles, consider new insights into group deliberation, and create a better way for local governments to engage the public.

The Consultation Paper on Renovating the Public Hearing gives readers information on the current BC law, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights Of Indigenous Peoples, and a range Of options for reform.

An Overview Video about the Renovate the Public Hearing Project


Provincial legislation requires local governments to hold a public hearing as part of the process to adopt or change a bylaw regulating the use of land, These public hearings give people a forum to air their views on the proposed bylaw, allowing local governments to gauge the public’s concerns and support, They have long been viewed in a favourable light, as a cornerstone of local democracy.

But lately public hearings have attracted some pointed criticism. Critics have questioned whether BC’s legislation on public hearings is really advancing public participation and democratic engagement. They’ve pointed to studies and surveys that indicate widespread dissatisfaction with the process. Current public hearing requirements, critics say, result in costs, wasted time, low satisfaction, and sometimes trauma for those involved.

This is the question BCLI seeks to answer. Our project committee engaged in deep thought on principles of public engagement and the legal framework that supports engagement by local governments.

The public is invited to provide feedback and advice on a range of options. This feedback will inform and help shape our recommendations for changes to the law.

Reconciliation and Community Listening Exploration Series

This project explores how reforms to the law on public hearings can be
aligned With Indigenous governance.

In 2019, BC passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, which requires that all Crown legislation be aligned to be consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Through our work, BCLI is seeking to identify ways to integrate Indigenous considerations into law-reform approaches for public hearings so that recommended legislative changes can function in a legally plural context.

The project has been designed to support a Reconciliation and Community Listening Exploration Series, which allows BCLI to engage with these issues directly and to provide input from that engagement to the project committee.

If you identify as an Indigenous person and you want to share your
perspective on these issues or you want to provide feedback on behalf
of a First Nation or Indigenous organization please contact Megan
[email protected],

Artwork by Eliot White-Hill

The UBCIC Chiefs-in-Assembly have called on the provincial government to “explicitly legislate requirements for municipalities to implement the UN Declaration and to strengthen accountability measures to ensure local governments are taking all measures necessary to meet the minimum standards of the UN Declaration”

UBCIC Resolution 2022-64

Consultation Paper: Summary of Issues Considered

Alignment with UNDRIP

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People articulates rights of Indigenous Peoples in land and land-use decision-making. The paper explores the idea of a framework for shared decision-making between local governments and First Nations.

Not Holding Public Hearings

Legislation can specify when public hearings are not required. The paper explores various circumstances in which a public hearing may not be required.

Timing and Procedural Issues

There can be advantages and disadvantages to legislation that clarifies the timing and procedural requirements for public engagements. The paper explores frameworks that offer more or less flexibility.

Public Engagement Principles

Public engagements can be guided by a set structure or general principles. The paper highlights examples from other places where engagements and guided by principles.

Other types of Engagement

There are a variety of ways local governments could engage the public. Legislation can provide guidance on those alternatives. The paper explores how legislation could support flexibility in public engagements.

Learn more / Get involved

Watch this space for upcoming opportunities to get involved.

Project Committee Partners and Funders

The Renovate the Public Hearing Project Committee includes experts in local government law, land use planning, and public engagement. The committee’s primary task is to assist BCLI in developing recommendations.

BCLI is carrying out this project in conjunction with the Simon Fraser University Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Visit for more information.

This project has been made possible by funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Housing Supply Challenge – Getting Started Round.

The project is slated to run until 31 March 2024.

What happens next?

Feedback from the consultation will be reviewed and integrated to form recommendations for specific reforms to the Local Government Act and related legislation.

Related Files

Consultative Documents:

Below you will find additional, relevant and specific documentation, backgrounders, research, resources, media releases and summaries that have been, or will be incorporated into our final publications and study papers. This work builds on our previous study of the origins, development, and current state of the law on public hearings.

If you have questions about these or other specific documents, please reach out to BCLI using our contact page or at the bottom of each page of our website.

Consultative Document

Consultation Paper

Consultative Document

Consultation Response Booklet



RPHP Backgrounder no. 1 – Introduction to the Project


RPHP Backgrounder no. 2 – Members of the Project Committee


RPHP Backgrounder no. 3 – Summary of Consultation Paper