Council Matters for December 4, 2019

Council met for about 3 hours in open meetings on December 4, 2019. Here are some highlights from that meeting.

First, Council heard from a delegation from the Cowichan Neighbourhood Association. Chrissy Kemppi, president, and Arlene Robinson spoke about the Cowichan Neighbourhood House. They gave a summary of the types of activities and resources they provide free of charge for all ages and socio-economic groups including, workshops, Naloxone training, yoga classes, and fruit/vegetable canning classes. The CHNA depends on donations to run and receives donations from the community almost daily, but expressed the need for ongoing support as their programs continue to grow. North Cowichan has been providing funding for the CHNA for many years, and Chrissy expressed deep gratitude and requested North Cowichan’s continued support.

Next, Council heard from a delegation from Wildsafe BC. Program coordinator, Amanda Crowston, explained that Wildsafe BC evolved from Bear Aware BC. Its mandate is to keep both wildlife and communities safe, while offering educational programs for communities. Wildsafe BC has been operating on Vancouver Island for three years, and can only operate in communities that fund the program. As a result of North Cowichan’s funding, Wildsafe BC has been able to hold ongoing information sessions in North Cowichan Schools and educate the public around bear safety. Amanda thanked North Cowichan for supporting Wildsafe BC and hopes to continue working together in the years to come.

Then, Council voted unanimously to give first, second, and third reading to Bylaw 3768 which formally repealed 52 irrelevant, outdated, or obsolete bylaws. Many of these bylaws dated back to 1914 and regulated anything from youth under 16 entering pool halls unchaperoned by adults, or how fast one may ride or drive any beast on municipal roads. Another one, called the Wide Tires Bylaw regulated the permissible width of wagon tires! You can find all of the repealed bylaws in the Council Agenda, beginning on page 25.

Council voted unanimously to approve Zoning Amendment Bylaw 3763 which permits a cannabis retail store at 8432 Trans-Canada Highway, beside the Red Rooster Restaurant on Mount Sicker Road.

Next, Council reconsidered the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit’s (VIMC) Development Permit (DP) Application. On November 6, 2019, after voting unanimously to hold a second public hearing before reconsidering Zoning Amendment Bylaw 3761, Council decided to defer reconsidering Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit’s pending DP until after the rezoning application was resolved.  Subsequently, VIMC asked that North Cowichan deal with their pending Development Permit on December 4, in advance of the upcoming Public Hearing. Staff previously denied the DP on the basis that the expansion would not comply with current zoning. As a result, Council decided to uphold staff’s decision and once again denied the DP. As planned, the second public hearing for reconsideration of VIMC’s rezoning application will occur on December 9, at 6:00 pm at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. Since VIMC has put North Cowichan on notice that a lawsuit may be coming, a staff report was prepared on the potential implications to tax payers. You can view the full report here.

Council then considered a staff report proposing to construct a new water storage reservoir to better service Crofton and the recently approved Commons at Osborne Bay project. Despite the Commons at Osborne Bay being approved, the Developer has been unable to move forward on the project due to limitations of the current reservoir which could not support increased demand. As a result, North Cowichan and the Developer have been looking for ways to work together and fund a new reservoir. This year, North Cowichan received an additional one-time top-up of Federal Gas Tax Funds in the amount of $1.328 million. Staff proposed that $700,000 from this grant be put towards construction of a new water reservoir. In response to North Cowichan’s funding, the Developer would be responsible for providing a turn-key project, including completed construction of the reservoir. Council voted unanimously to spend the proposed portion of the Gas Tax Fund on the new reservoir. You can view staff’s report on page 267 of the Council Agenda.

Finally, Council considered a Notice of Motion to amend the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) in the Quamichan Watershed. This would be a temporary measure that would remain in place until after the Official Community Plan review is complete in 2021. After some discussion, Council directed staff to prepare a report on the potential impacts this motion could have. Staff will bring forward a report at the January 15, 2020 Regular Council Meeting, at which time Council will make a decision on this Notice of Motion. You can read the full motion on Page 5 of the Council Agenda.

Thank you for reading and staying informed! Our next regular Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 18 at 1:30 p.m.

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan