Right In The Centre - MCNA welcomes changes to the Planning Amendment Act


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Late last week, the Manitoba Community Newspapers Association (MCNA) issued the following press release. It is my privilege to serve as president of MCNA.

“The Manitoba Community Newspapers Association (MCNA) has applauded the provincial government for its move to amend Bill 19, The Planning Amendment Act, so that Manitoba municipalities will still be required to place public notices in local newspapers.

‘The MCNA board and all our members are very pleased that Bill 19 was amended,’ MCNA president Ken Waddell said. ‘We extend our thanks to everyone who appeared at the hearings of the Standing Committee on Social and Economic Development and who offered their opinions to bring about this change. We especially appreciate the many letters of support MCNA received from towns and municipalities.’

Bill 19, as originally written, would have eliminated the requirement for governments to place notices in newspapers, which would have limited the ability of many Manitobans to learn of the activities and plans of local government. MCNA lobbied all political parties, the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, and appeared before the standing committee to argue that being afforded public notice is a democratic right of the people of Manitoba.

On May 29, the provincial government and Hon. Jeff Wharton, municipal relations minister, tabled amendments in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly withdrawing sections 19.2 and 25 of Bill 19, which dealt with public notice. Unanimous consent was required and was given. Final reading and voting on the newly amended bill will take place Thurs., May 31.

However, the MCNA notes that Bill 8, The Government Notices Modernization Act, which will be considered this fall by the Manitoba Legislature, also eliminates requirements that notices be posted in local newspapers.

This move by the government was applauded in many corners as a victory for democracy and it was. The government listened for once and changed course on a policy that would have been bad for democracy and for the public in general. It would have also had some disconcerting effects potentially for local planning districts. If Bill 19 had passed unamended, there surely would have been lawsuits against planning districts and their partnering municipalities. It would only have been a matter of time before a person would have sued over a development that had gone through unnoticed by the complainant.

Later this year, Bill 8 returns to the legislature and it is a very dangerous bill as well. It has been delayed by the NDP and leader Wab Kinew to be debated in the fall session. The government can expect a vigorous fight on Bill 8 as it states the government can change about 25 different acts without proper notice as well. Hopefully, the reluctant wisdom shown on Bill 19 will be transferred to Bill 8.

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer president of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.

Editor's note: After this column was originally written, amendments were brought forward to remove Sections 19(2) and 25 from Bill 19. This means that municipalities and planning districts will still be required to give notice of changes to things like zoning and land use in local newspapers where people will more readily see them than on just the municipal or planning districts website. Ken Waddell, publisher.