Council Matters for November 6, 2019

Council met for about 3 hours in open meetings on November 6, 2019. Here are some highlights from that meeting.

First, Council heard from Inspector Chris Bear who gave an update on the policing operations for the period of July, August, and September 2019. We learned that service calls were down over this quarter, while there was a 2.3% increase in calls for service year over year from 2018 to 2019. The bulk of them were in North Cowichan (49%), with Duncan at 22%. Insp. Bear shared that the Corridor Safety Office is very busy and productive, with bylaw, police, and Blackbird Security removing many people off the streets and mitigating public intoxication and drug use. Inspector Bear’s full report can be viewed here.

In light of the Provincial Government (LDB) withdrawing its application for a Cannabis Retail Store at 2900 Drinkwater Road, Council made a motion to abandon the zoning amendment bylaw to accommodate a Cannabis Retail Store at this location.

Last month, in a 5-2 vote, Council defeated third reading to rezone Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit’s property to a Comprehensive Development Zone to accommodate expansion. Since then, new information has been received pertaining to the application and per section 131 of the Community Charter, I requested that the rezoning application be reconsidered. Council discussed this request and voted unanimously to hold another public hearing which will be at at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, December 9 at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre.

Council gave first and second reading to a bylaw to restrict farm animals, poultry, and exotic animals on any lot that is less than 1.98 Acres. A public hearing will now be scheduled so that we can hear from residents on this matter. Anyone interested in the full report can view it on pages 240-241 of the agenda package.

Earlier this year we heard concerns from the agricultural community that North Cowichan’s setbacks on agricultural land are more restrictive than best practices set out by the Ministry of Agriculture. As a result, staff brought forward a zoning amendment bylaw that would reduce setbacks in agricultural zones for principal buildings (other than residential buildings). Council gave the proposed bylaw amendment first and second reading, and requested that referrals be sent to the BC Young Agrarians, the Cowichan Agricultural Society, and the Cowichan Green Community, and that a public hearing be scheduled to hear from the public.

In September, the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) announced a new funding intake for their Community Emergency Preparedness Fund that provides up to $750,000 to successful applications for flood mitigation infrastructure. Council considered a staff report that would cancel the previous Canada Avenue Settlement Repair Project, in favour of a new project, the Canada Avenue Flood Gate, Drainage, and Road Upgrade Project, that would align with this funding opportunity. Council agreed to support an application for funding, and directed staff to adjust 2020 and 2021 budgets for this new project.

That’s it for this week! Thank you for reading and staying informed. Our next regular Council meeting is November 20, 2019.

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan