Council Matters - November 21, 2012

On Wednesday, November 21, Council had a very interesting discussion concerning the future of Stoney Hill, a very rural area currently accessed through private land and logging roads or by water, on the eastern boundary of North Cowichan. Council is considering establishing a Local Area Service that will provide the funding for a public, gravel road to provide a basic and secure access to lots created by North Cowichan 60 years ago.

Under the terms of the petition, the affected landowners will pay about $1700.00 dollars a year for 25 years on their taxes to fund their portion ($2 million)of the estimated $2.5 million cost and NC will contribute $500,000.00 through the sale of residential lots (not Municipal Forest lands) we own in the area. Council has accepted the Petition as valid and started on a number of steps to allow the road to be built.

One of the first steps was to propose removing a strip of land (approximately in the location of the existing logging road) from the Municipal Forest Reserve (MFR) for the dedicated public road. The public have an opportunity to oppose that action under the Alternate Approval Process, which ends on December 14.

Discussion at Council dealt with a concern that the new road might enable subdivision in the Stoney Hill Area, which is arguably contrary to principles in the Official Community Plan that discourage increased density outside of our Urban Containment Boundaries. Vigorous debate over the need to deal with this issue ended with Council passing a motion to "direct staff to prepare a report on options to preserve the rural nature of the Stoney Hill Area."

When the report comes to Council, I am sure there will be further debate on this important and sensitive issue.