North Cowichan's Application to Remove Land from ALR for Proposed New RCMP Building

The Municipality of North Cowichan will be submitting an application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to exclude 1.78 hectares of land on Beverly Street from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) for a proposed new RCMP Building.  This information sheet has been prepared to provide information on North Cowichans application and address concerns raised by the public on how this application may impact Somenos Marsh.

    - As a result of the November 2009 flood which caused significant property damage to the urban core (estimated at $30 million), the Integrated Flood Management Group (IFMG) represented by the Municipality of North Cowichan, the City of Duncan, the CVRD and the Cowichan Tribes, worked together and ultimately agreed on the location and alignment of a new dike to prevent future flooding.

    - The original budget for the Lakes and Beverly Street Dike project was estimated at $6 million but had to be reduced to $4.8 by the IFMG based on a funding reallocation of the Emergency Management BC grant funding awarded to the CVRD.  North Cowichan consulted the Somenos Management Committee on the revised dike alignment, and although the Committee would have preferred the dike to follow the north side of Beverly Street, the additional cost to realign the dike was estimated at $1 million.  As a result of the reduced grant funding, IFMG, Council and the ALC approved the location of the dike as shown on the attached map.

    - For several years, North Cowichan has been actively seeking out and has considered several potential sites for a new RCMP building but was unable to find a site that met the extensive list of RCMP criteria. The current RCMP site on Canada Avenue is not protected by flood protection infrastructure, and the building does not meet minimum RCMP facility standards.

    - The approximate 1.78 hectare Municipally-owned property (shown as Parcel A on the attached map) which has been created by the construction of the new dike was identified by staff as the preferred location for a new RCMP building, endorsed by North Cowichans Agricultural Advisory Committee and Community Planning Advisory Committee, and subsequently endorsed by Council.

    - This proposed site is in close proximity to the City of Duncan, Cowichan Tribes and University Village (North Cowichan), and has immediate access to north and southbound lanes of the Trans Canada Highwayall key considerations for siting a new RCMP building.
    - It is estimated it could cost over $1 million to purchase an alternative site to construct a new RCMP building within the University Village area which would increase the estimated $8 million RCMP construction budget to at least $9 million. These costs will have to be fully financed by North Cowichan taxpayers as required in the Municipal Policing Agreement with the Province of BC. The City of Duncan, CVRD and Cowichan Tribes are not required to contribute towards a new police building because their policing services are funded by the Province of B.C.
    - As a result of this 1.78 hectare parcel being within the ALR, North Cowichan is required to submit an application to the Agricultural Land Commission to have the land excluded from the ALR, and comply with the statutory notification and process requirements outlined in the Agricultural Land Reserve Use, Subdivision and Procedure Regulation

    - North Cowichan will be offering to add 3.26 hectares (shown as Parcel C on the attached map) into the ALR which is currently a part of the Somenos Marsh area on the north (wet) side of the dike if North Cowichans application to remove the 1.78 hectare parcel from the ALR is successful.  This is in keeping with North Cowichans Official Communitiy Plan which states:  The Municipality does not generally support exclusion of agricultural lands from the ALR and subdivision of ALR lands (including homesite severances) unless there is no net loss of ALR lands, and a net benefit to agriculture can be clearly demonstrated.

    - The Fun Pacific property, immediately east of the proposed RCMP site and other privately-held properties in the Somenos Marsh area are not included in the proposed Somenos Marsh Conservation Area as defined by the Somenos Management Plan.  The proposed Fun Pacific ALR exclusion application includes a transfer of approximately 2 hectares of property to the Municipality (shown as Parcel B on the attached map) on the north (wet) side of dike.  This parcel could also become part of a protected Somenos Marsh Conservation Area.

    - The proposed Somenos Marsh Conservation Area (SMCA) is currentlynot a formally protected area. The Municipality considers the Somenos Marsh a significant ecologically-sensitive area and is interested in working with key stakeholders including the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society and the Somenos Management Committee to:
        1. create a Somenos Marsh Conservation Area which would allow conservation zoning protection;
        2. explore options to create a stormwater management plan for the proposed RCMP site that will naturally filter stormwater prior to it draining on the north side of the dike into Somenos Marsh; and
        3. develop a plan to manage invasive species in the Somenos Marsh that are impacting its natural function.

    - North Cowichan shares the publics concerns regarding the ecological sensitivity of the Somenos Marsh and is interested in working together with key stakeholders to create a protected area for current and future generations to enjoy. Council will continue to carefully weigh the need to protect private and public property from future flooding, formally protect the adjacent wetlands, and provide a safe and functional facility to meet the needs of the RCMP while responsibly managing your tax dollars.

We welcome your comments and questions. If you require clarification on the Somenos Marsh, the proposed new RCMP building location, or North Cowichan's application to the Agricultural Land Commission, please contact Mayor Jon Lefebure.