If you keep an eye on what is happening in Prince George by perusing the city’s legal advertising in the Prince George Citizen, take note, that will soon be coming to an end.
Council passed a bylaw last week which enables it to bypass the historic requirement to publish such notices in a local newspaper. According to the city’s statement of financial information, it spent $173,529.94 with the Citizen in 2021. The statement does not highlight how much of that was legal/public notice advertising.
On Monday council gave the first three readings to a new bylaw that defines the two required methods by which the city will publish public notice as the city’s website and the city’s Facebook page. There are provisions within the bylaw allowing for the city to publish, in a modified form, a supplemental public notice in a newspaper for matters expecting to garner significant interest from the community or impact the community at large.
According to legislation, local governments that choose to adopt a public notice bylaw and alternate methods for public notice must consider the principles for effective public notice that are prescribed in the Public Notice Regulation.
These principles are intended to foster a shared set of good governance expectations among local governments and members of the public and confidence that they will conduct their business in an open and transparent manner. The three principles that must be considered before a public notice bylaw is adopted are:
- Reliable – the publication methods are dependable and trustworthy.
- Suitable – the publication methods work for the purpose for which the public notice is
- Accessible – the publication methods are easy to access and have broad reach.
The two official means of public notice proposed will be readily accessible by the community, provide
reliable, accurate and up to date information and meet the content and timing requirements for
publications of notices, as required by legislation, according to a report to council. Both the city’s website and Facebook page are frequently visited, are accessible from a variety of electronic devices and do not require any information (i.e. login or account) to be provided in order to access the information, it says.
The proposed bylaw will come into effect November 1, providing all city departments that would be affected by adoption of the bylaw (i.e.: financial services, planning and development, legislative services) time to adjust internal processes to meet the bylaw requirements.
In addition, this effective date coincides with the start of the new council term.
In an effort to encourage members of the public to prepare for and familiarize themselves with the
change to the publishing of public notices, administration will include in forthcoming notices, details
regarding the “News and Notices” section of the city’s website (www.princegeorge.ca/PublicNotices),
the city’s email subscription program for published notices, and the city’s Facebook page.
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