Council Matters for March 20, 2019

Council met for close to 6 hours in open meetings on March 20, 2019.

Council first met as a Committee of the Whole to review a proposed Animal Responsibility Bylaw. The new bylaw will significantly modernize the existing Animal Control Bylaw, and has been developed cooperatively with the SPCA and Coastal Animal Services. The proposed new bylaw includes provisions for animal welfare, control, licencing, duties of animal owners, penalties, and enforcement. The Committee of the Whole asked that language about restricted dog breeds be removed from the draft Bylaw, and that the Bylaw be brought to Council for consideration. The Bylaw is scheduled to come before Council on April 3. You can read the draft bylaw and staff report here.

 The regular Council meeting began be hearing from three delegations:

  • Terri Mattin, who presented a draft of the Cowichan Attainable Housing Strategy on behalf of the Cowichan Housing Association.
  • Heather Prichard, who presented on the case-study on management of the Harrop-Proctor Community Forest.
  • Erik Piikkila, who requested that an ecological assessment be done on blowdown areas before harvesting plans are finalized.

Next, Council discussed its desire for community engagement on future management of the Municipal Forest Reserve. Staff proposed that Council discuss, confirm, and clarify how open or constrained future engagement might be. You can read a report on this topic on pp. 19-22 of the agenda.  Council decided to refer it this the April 3 meeting for consideration. The motion to set this direction, which will be considered on April 3 is:

That Council affirm its desire to go ahead with a meaningful public engagement, both deep and broad, on the future management of our forests defined by the following decision statement. Council will decide on an overall vision for the highest and best use of the Municipal Forest Reserve that:

  1. will emphasize ecological stewardship and promotion of biodiversity;
  2. will build and enhance those values and interests the forest has for the community and forest experts;
  3. will be used to inform the development of a management framework and long term plan for achieving the vision; and
  4. if harvesting is to continue, will establish harvesting guidelines.

This decision will preferably be made by January 2020, but will not be rushed.

Council considered options for the 2019 property tax rates and asked staff to prepare a Property Tax Rate Bylaw based on a 2.95% tax increase.

Council decided to support an application to the Agricultural Land Commission for proposed subdivision at 9266 Chemainus Road.

Council considered a staff report on a new environmental position to expedite completion of the climate change and environment-related priority projects identified in the 2019-2022 Council Strategic Plan. Council decided to defer a decision on the position, as Councillor Toporowski was away. Read a report on this position on pp. 57-62 of the agenda.

Council granted pre-budget approval for up to $24,000 to resurface the Fuller Lake Park pickleball court in 2019.

Thank you for reading and staying informed! Our next regular Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 3 at 1:30 p.m.

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan