Council Matters - September 20, 2012

At its September 19, regular meeting, North Cowichan Council made a definitive decision to build the new Chemainus Library on the old fire hall site. This Council and the previous Council had determined, after a comprehensive and consultative planning process, that the new Chemainus Library would be built adjacent to the Coastal Community Credit Union on municipally-owned property in the Waterwheel Park parking lot. Over the past nine months, however, a groundswell of public opinion opposed to that site had developed in Chemainus. The results of three independent petitions and surveys, with over 800 signatures, showed a clear preference for the old firehall site. The Chemainus Advisory Committee acknowledged this input and recommended that Council change its decision. Council responded to the Committees recommendation and the evidence of public preference by passing a motion proposing 9796 Willow Street (old fire hall site) as the preferred new library site to the Vancouver Island Regional Library Board (VIRL) for its consideration.

With this issue resolved, VIRL can now proceed with its process and will hold a public meeting to determine what the community would like to see within the library. North Cowichan will work with VIRL on a suitable plan for the fire hall site. A subsequent motion was passed that Council support relocation of the Cowichan Neighbourhood House Association and Visitor Information Centre from the old fire hall to avoid disruption of these community services.

Council then passed a motion to support redevelopment of part of Waterwheel Park parking lot to create a Festival Square. The Festival Square is an important part of the overall Chemainus Town Centre Revitalization Plan and we can now bring it forward for community input. This fall, there will be opportunity for the public to participate in the process to design a plan for the Festival Square and construction could follow in the spring. We are confident that the Festival Square, with a new library to follow, will be a significant first step in dramatically enhancing and reinvigorating downtown Chemainus.