Council Matters - March 4, 2015

The March 4 regular meeting of Council began with two delegations. First, Trevor Hughes, of Coastal Animal Control Services, presented his 2014 summary which reported that his staff attended 456 complaints on our behalf.

Next, Julie Scurr, President of the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, presented an update on the new Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre. The Centre has been a big success in its first year, with a 106% increase in visitors. These visitors have been directed to venues throughout the Regional District. Julie went on to note that even if you've lived in the Valley for a long time, you may be surprised to find that there are still places to discover. It was also noted that the Centre is facing some financial challenges caused largely by a decrease in the annual funding provided by Destination BC.

The University Village Local Area Plan was also up for review following a recommendation made at the February 24 Committee of the Whole meeting. At that meeting, Council had agreed, in principle and subject to formal bylaw consideration, on a compromise to move the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) back from the dike to the current location, with the exception of about 2/3 of the Fun Pacific Property which will be included within the UCB. The consultant will now update the draft Plan to reflect this, as well as make a few other small changes, and the Plan will be brought back to Council for more formal consideration. If the bylaw proceeds to first and second reading, there is likely to be further public consultation and a public hearing before it can be adopted.

In a related matter, Council asked staff for a report on the feasibility of the Cowichan Green Community proposal to establish an incubator farm project on Municipal land on Beverly Street east of Alexander School. Council was quite interested in this project as a result of the presentation made by Judy Stafford at a previous meeting.

Later in the meeting, North Cowichan's Community Liaison Coordinator delivered an analysis of the current status of the implementation of our 2013 Council Communications Plan. Options to improve the three focus areas of public awareness and education, issues management, and public engagement were also included in the analysis. Council will consider additional funding for this program as a supplementary budget item.

Speaking of communications, as part of Council's commitment to improve communication with the public, I welcome you to meet with me to discuss development application issues or any other municipally-related matters. Appointments are available twice a month, on Fridays. To make an appointment, please call the number listed below.

On the corporate energy front, Council allocated $245,000 from the Climate Action and Energy Plan Reserve Fund for a suite of 2015 corporate energy projects that will result in both dramatic energy savings and some greenhouse gas reductions. Council stipulated that the Fund be replenished by that amount over the 9.1 year payback of these projects. Council also approved the allocation of $34,100 from the Reserve Fund for energy conservation initiatives, including home energy rebates and educational and promotional activities.

Thank you for your interest in Council Matters. Council appreciates hearing from you. Email us to tell us what you think.