Council Matters for June 5, 2019

Council met for about four hours in open meetings on June 5, 2019. Here are some highlights from the Regular Council meeting:

We began on a positive note, by acknowledging a local volunteer and advocate, Sandy McPherson, who recently received a BC Achievement Community Award, after being nominated for this Award by Council earlier this year. Ms. McPherson was one of 25 people to receive the award this year, out of 150 people nominated, and we are so grateful for what she contributes to this community. You can read more about Sandy and this award here.

Council then heard from three delegations:

  1. Cowichan Energy Alternatives: during which we heard about current and upcoming greenhouse gas reduction projects, such as biodiesel fuel and the community carbon marketplace.
  2. BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB): during which we heard about the LDB’s application for retail cannabis zoning at 2900 Drinkwater Road.
  3. Costa Cana Corp: during which we heard about Costa Cana’s application for retail cannabis zoning at 2951 Green Road.

Council then debated giving first reading to two applications for retail cannabis zoning, located on different parcels within the Cowichan Commons: one proposed by the LDB at 2900 Drinkwater Road and another proposed by Costa Cana Corp at 2951 Green Road. Council decided to give first reading to the LDB application at 2900 Drinkwater Road and allow that application to proceed to a public information meeting to be held by the LDB. Council denied Costa Cana’s application and asked the applicant to resubmit the application with a revised storefront location within the same parcel that addresses various staff and community concerns about the original location of the storefront. At the same time, Council passed a motion that Council review its Retail Cannabis Policy at a future Committee of the Whole meeting, now that Council has reviewed a number of applications and seen how the policy works in practice.

Council made an important decision about the upcoming Official Community Plan revision process. The updated OCP will be developed collaboratively with residents, businesses, and other community partners through an extensive process that will kick off this September and will carry on through 2020. The process will take into consideration new and developing planning policy and result in the creation of a fully updated OCP document. You can read more about the process that Council endorsed on pp. 50-55 here and on our OCP webpage.

Council gave three readings to a bylaw amendment to change the speed limit from 50km/h to 40km/h on River Road between Chemainus Road and Askew Creek Drive. Concerns have been raised by residents about speed in this area for some time, and staff recently completed a review of the road, its alignment, and the number and location of speed limit signs and determined that a speed reduction is warranted.

Council approved entering into a restrictive covenant and statutory right-of-way with the Vancouver Island Health Authority to facilitate development of the future Chemainus Sea Walk. In effect, Island Health will give North Cowichan a right-of-way for the future sea walk, in exchange for North Cowichan putting a restrictive covenant on its land adjacent to the Chemainus Health Care Centre to restrict uses to avoid potential future conflicts. We have been working on this arrangement for a number of years, so it is a positive achievement. It should be noted; however, that this is only one of many steps needed in order to move forward with the future sea walk, including obtaining a foreshore lease from the Province and allocation of a project budget, which are not yet in place.

Council asked staff to draft an amendment to the Fees Bylaw to amend certain fees related to Parks and Recreation, specifically, a number of fees for admission rates, rentals, and personal fitness training. Proposed fee increases are necessary to keep up with the Consumer Price Index and facility operating expenses. The expected fee increases will amount to about $0.10 for an adult drop-in admission, or $7.30 for an annual pass.

Finally, Council agreed to write a letter to the Cowichan Valley Regional District Board urging the Board to consider initiating a Regional Growth Strategy, and requested a staff report and recommendations on receiving proclamation requests and issuing proclamations.

That’s it for this week! Thank you for reading and staying informed. Our next Council meeting is Wednesday, June 19 at 1:30 p.m.

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan