How Public Hearings Work

How Do Public Hearings Work?

Pen & paperPublic hearings are formal proceedings that follow rules set out by provincial and local legislation.  The date and time of a public hearing is set by council motion and advertised at least two weeks prior in the Central Peace Signal and/or on the County website and social media pages.

Section 230 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) outlines the public hearing process, section 230(3) indicates that council may establish procedures for the hearing and section 230(6) states that minutes are to be recorded as directed by council. A public hearing must be held during a regular or special council meeting and advertised as per section 606. Public hearing minutes’ form part of the council meeting minutes.

Public hearings are designed to ensure that the public has an opportunity to have their comments heard by Council, either in favour of or in opposition to the matter under consideration, and, to ensure that all of Council receives the same information at the same time.

Members of the public are encouraged to make their comments either verbally at the hearing or in writing beforehand. 

Public Hearings are structured so as to accept input from the public, in favour of or in opposition to the matter under consideration but NOT to entertain questions from the public.


Public MeetingPublic Hearing Submissions

Submissions may be written or verbal. If you provide your input to a public hearing you are consenting to the public release of that input as part of the public record. Anonymous submissions are not accepted or considered. Comments must be sent to the legislative officer at least two business days prior to the hearing:


In person: Saddle Hills County Complex, Junction of Highway 49 and Highway 725

Mail: Saddle Hills County. Attn: Legislative Officer, RR 1, Spirit River, Alberta, Canada, T0H3G0

Any person may make verbal comments at the public hearing.  

Public HearingWhat to expect at a Public Hearing

1. The Reeve will call the hearing to order, then invite administration to provide context and background for the matter under consideration.

2. If there is an applicant, that person or their agent will be asked by the Reeve to present the content of their request. This is the only opportunity for the applicant to speak, unless asked a question by council.

3. Council will have an opportunity to ask questions of administration and the applicant.

4. The Reeve will invite members of the public to speak. Typically the Reeve will alternate between those in favour and those opposed. Speakers are encouraged to confine their comments to five minutes, not including time for any questions from Council. Time limits are to ensure everyone has a fair and equal chance to be heard. Give some thought to the important points you want to make so that you can stay within the allotted time.

5. The Reeve will give administration an opportunity to provide closing comments.

6. The Reeve will adjourn the public hearing.  Council will not accept any further formal submissions after the hearing closes.


Public Hearing Records

After the public hearing adjourns, the Legislative Officer will prepare:

· Minutes of the hearing, and

·  A record of public submissions.

The minutes will record:

· The names of councillors, administration and the applicant, or representatives of the applicant, who presented at the hearing; and

· The names of the members of the public who provided written and/or verbal submissions, along with a general indication of support, or opposition, a summary of the verbal presentations and a copy of any written submissions received.


Decisions requiring a public hearing

According to the Municipal Government Act of Alberta, council must hold a public hearing before the second reading of a bylaw, or before they vote on a resolution concerning:


· Disposal of municipal and school reserve

· Removal of municipal reserve designation

· Change to environmental reserve use or boundaries

· Land use planning bylaws:

     o   Land use bylaw and its amendments

     o   Municipal development plan

     o   Area structure plans

     o   Area redevelopment plans

     o   Intermunicipal development plans


If you have any questions about how Public Hearings work in Alberta or if you require any other information about specific public hearings in Saddle Hills County please feel free to contact Saddle Hills County.