Council Matters - January 15, 2014

The January 15 Council meeting featured a lengthy discussion of sites for the new RCMP headquarters. It was made clear that the original site proposed for consideration, a five acre property on Beverly Street owned by North Cowichan, was removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve in early January. It remains one of the options that Council will consider.

Because of the uncertainty regarding the Agricultural Land Commission decision on exclusion of that site, and knowing that the site works there are estimated at $2.1 million, Council authorized staff to make a conditional offer on a site on Ford Road (across Drinkwater from Cowichan Commons) to provide another site for consideration. That site would require a rezoning to Public Use. Rezoning requires a process to allow the public to comment on the proposed change in land use and Council cannot make its decision until after a Public Hearing scheduled for March 5, 2014 is held. Council decided to keep the Ford Road site on the table and started the rezoning process by passing first reading of the necessary bylaw and authorizing staff to prepare for an information meeting and Public Hearing. Council does not intend to proceed with the purchase or rezoning if the site does not become the final choice.

The CAO brought forward a third potential site that became available very recently. School District No. 79 (SD79) announced that they had identified a site on Beverly Street at York Road as excess to their educational needs and asked North Cowichan if it was interested in the property which will be subject to a public consultation process conducted by SD79. Council agreed that this land should also be included in the discussion of an alternate site.

Staff will bring back a detailed report to the February 19 Council meeting. The report will evaluate all three sites, using criteria that includes site purchase and development costs, environmental impact, location, RCMP requirements and post-disaster suitability. Council will hopefully be able to then choose the most suitable site and move the process ahead.

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