Council Matters for May 1, 2019

Council met for about three hours in open meetings on May 1, 2019. Here are some highlights from that meeting.

Council began by receiving the RCMP report for the first quarter of 2019 (January – March). During this quarter, there was a 9.9% increase in calls for service over this time last year. Approximately 48% of calls responded to were in North Cowichan, with 12% of these originating from Chemainus (most common call: traffic), 7% from Crofton (most common call: 911 false/abandoned), 8% from Maple Bay (most common call: mental health), 61% from elsewhere in North Cowichan (most common call: 911 false/abandoned), and 12% not specific to a limited area. Council was also informed that the average "proactive time" available to uniformed patrol constables has increased to 12% of their shift, which equates to almost an hour and a half of available pro-active time during 12-hour work day.

Council adopted three important bylaws on May 1:

  • The Animal Responsibility Bylaw, which emphasizes humane care for animals. They bylaw was developed with input from the BC SPCA, Coastal Animal Services, Cowichan Cat Rescue, and United for a Paws. A summary of the new bylaw can be viewed here.
  • The Five-Year Financial Plan Bylaw and Tax Rates Bylaw 2019. Through these Bylaws, Council adopted a 2019 tax increase of 2.95%. A number of important projects are captured in the 2019 budget, which you can read about here.

Council also reviewed the 2018 audited financial statements and accepted them along with the 2018 audited financial statements for the Joint Utilities Board. These statements were prepared by staff in accordance with Canadian public sector accounting standards for local governments. The audit firm, Grant Thornton, was appointed by Council and is responsible for expressing an opinion on whether the consolidated financial statements fairly represent the financial position of the Municipality. In 2018, overall capital expenditures were under budget by $13.8M due to projects being incomplete or postponed (e.g. Cowichan Aquatic Centre renovation, JUB outfall relocation project, Severne Street subdivision, etc).

Council reviewed the draft questionnaire for its first ever Citizen Satisfaction Survey, which will collect feedback from residents about their satisfaction with North Cowichan’s programs and services. Council discussed the survey at length and made some changes to the questions to ensure that specific issues are not highlighted over others and that questions about citizen’s priorities and preferences are open-ended. The survey will begin later this month, and you can read more about it on pp. 84-118 here.

Council passed a motion, brought forward by Councillor Sawrie, to show its support for the LGBTQ2S+ community by flying the pride flag at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre from May 14 – June 28, 2019 in recognition of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (May 17) and Pride Month (June). Council also decided to obtain a staff report on establishing a flag policy.

Finally, Council decided to write a letter of support for the Maple Bay Rowing Club’s 2019 Gaming Grant application.

That’s it for this week! Thank you for reading and staying informed. Our next Council meeting is Wednesday, May 15 at 1:30 p.m.

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan