Council Matters - February 4, 2015

Council faced another lengthy meeting on February 4, starting with four delegations:

1) Inspector Carfantan presented the RCMP Quarterly Report which featured an excellent update on the Prolific Offender Management Program which is a key component of the North Cowichan/Duncan Detachment's Strategic Plan.

2) Our Medical Health Officer, Dr. Paul Hasselback, followed with a description of harm reduction strategiesusedby Island Health for the Cowichan Valley. These activities focus on assisting persons with addictions.

3) Ann Kjerulf, Senior Planner with the CVRD, brought forward the results of the 2014 CVRD Regional Affordable Housing Needs Assessment. This provided valuable background on the current housing situation in the Cowichan Valley.

4) Keith Lawrence, Senior Environmental Analyst with the CVRD, and Brian Carruthers, CAO, introduced the draft Regional Surface and Ground Water management and Governance Study. This is the result of a long consultative process which will determine if and how wemight manage our watersheds under the new Water Sustainability Act.

Later in the meeting, Council supported an increased budget for Community Policing which delivers approximately 20 programs focused on crime prevention and safety. Council acknowledged that the organization provides valuable services that complement the work of the RCMP and reduce the overall cost of policing.

There were also three motions brought forward that led to vigorous discussion. The first, suggesting thatgeneral municipaltax increases should not exceed the Consumer Price Index, was postponed for discussion until after the 2015-2019 budget is completed in May 2015.

The second motion requested the implementation of a priority-setting exercise to determine essential services andthiswas supported by Council. This exercise is expected to commence after May 2015 in preparation for the 2016 2020 Financial Plan deliberation starting in the fall.

The third motion proposed that the portion ofgeneral municipal taxes paid by Class 4 (Major Industry) be increased to between 17.5 and 18.5 % of total taxes levied. Council decided not to set a specific target of 17.5% or 18.5% but did support directing staff to present various tax distribution options when this is discussed at our planned April 7, 2015 Committee of the Whole meeting which will be dedicated to reviewing the tax distribution between the ninepropertyclasses, including Class 1 (Residential) and Class 4 (Major Industry).

Council appreciates hearing from you. Please contact us on these or any other matters to share your thoughts.