Council Matters - April 16, 2014

On April 16, Council had a full agenda. The 2014-2018 Financial Plan received three readings. After many months of consideration and adjustments, there will be a net tax increase to the general municipal portion of the taxes of 2.64% in 2014 which is equivalent to $11.98 per $100,000 of assessment, or $37.80 on an average single family dwelling in North Cowichan.

Council also debated whether or not to hold a plebiscite during the fall election on the issue of amalgamation with the City of Duncan. The City had suggested that the question might ask, "Do you support spending (a yet undetermined amount) dollars on a study to determine the costs and benefits of amalgamation or restructure of the City of Duncan and Municipality of North Cowichan?" North Cowichan Council was generally in support, but specified the removal of the restructure option as Council is interested in knowing whether North Cowichan citizens support amalgamation.  The City 'restructuring' proposal introduces the idea of boundary realignment, which, if asked, should be a separate question to ensure citizens understand the implications of the questions.

The other significant issue discussed focused on the rezoning of the parcel of land referred to generally as Echo Heights. Back in November 2013, Council requested that staff prepare a bylaw that would have the effect of rezoning 20% of Echo Heights from the current Residential R2 zoning to a mix of residential zonings (R3, R3 S, R3 MF, R3 CH and R7), and would rezone the remaining 80% of the lands, including environmentally sensitive areas, to Public Conservation (PC) zone to be maintained and protected as a municipal park. Staff developed a concept plan for the 20% anticipating a mix of single family housing with or without secondary suites, including some carriage house lots, plus three multi-family sites for townhouses. The concept plan also identified significant trees in the 20% development area with a view to protecting the majority of these trees within the concept plan. Council passed first and second reading of the enabling bylaw, and instructed staff to conduct an open house in Chemainus to provide further information on the plan. Following the open house it is expected that Council will conduct a formal Public Hearing on the rezoning bylaw prior to considering the bylaw for third and final reading. Details on the open house will be posted on our website after consulting with the Chemainus Advisory Committee on April 24, 2014.

As always, Council appreciates hearing from you. Send your comments on these, or any other issues, tocouncil@northcowichan.ca.