Alternative Approval Process
The Community Charter gives Council an alternate option to seeking approval of the City’s electors by referendum: the alternative approval process (AAP). It is a less costly and less time consuming way of asking the electorate’s permission to proceed with the adoption of, for example, a borrowing bylaw. If at least 10 per cent of the estimated number of electors oppose the bylaw, agreement or other matter in question, it must be taken to a formal referendum vote before it can be adopted.
Who is eligible to participate in an AAP?
Any individual who qualifies as a resident elector or non-resident property elector within the area affected by the subject matter of the AAP (usually it is City-wide, but it is possible that an AAP could be limited to a smaller area) can participate.
What happens during an AAP?
Council will direct staff to proceed with obtaining the approval of the electors on a matter via an AAP. Staff will then bring a report forward to City Council at an open meeting which will outline the proposed advertising dates for the AAP, the proposed deadline for receipt of responses, the estimated number of electors, and the proposed “elector response form”. Council must approve these by resolution, and following that, the response forms are made available to the electors.
Notice to residents
The AAP must then be advertised in the newspaper at least twice, and the deadline for receipt of the response forms must be at least 30 days after the second advertisement. Depending on the subject matter of the AAP, there may be additional newspaper ads, public open houses, press releases, and other public communications.
Once the AAP starts, the forms are available from the Office of the City Clerk at City Hall (for pick up or they can be faxed, mailed, or e-mailed to an elector). In some cases, they are also made available at other public facilities such as recreation centres, public libraries and the like, as well as available for downloading from the City’s website.
The completed forms must be delivered to the Office of the City Clerk by the deadline in order to be counted. Usually there is room for five or six electors to sign one form, or each elector may sign his or her own form. Accurate copies of the Council approved forms are also acceptable, so long as they are not altered (in other words, someone may obtain one form and photocopy it if needed).
Once they are delivered to the Office of the City Clerk, the completed AAP elector response forms are date stamped when they are received, and are held in the Office of the City Clerk’s vault while the process is on-going. The number of responses received is not generally made public during the process (in other words you cannot ask for a running-total of the number received to date).
Once the deadline has passed, the responses are validated, and staff then brings another report forward to Council called the “Certificate of Sufficiency” report, in which the total number of valid responses received is given. If the total is at least 10% of the estimated number of electors, Council is not permitted to proceed with the matter unless it is approved by the electorate through a referendum.
For more information, contact:
Office of the City Clerk