Council Matters for September 4, 2019

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

Council received an extensive presentation from bylaw staff, the RCMP, and Island Health, regarding remedial action for an accessory building at 9384 Cottonwood Road under sections 72, 73, and 74 of the Community Charter. This accessory building has been the subject of a great many bylaw, RCMP, and health violations over more than 10 years regarding unlawful habitation of the accessory building, which was not built to meet human health and safety requirements. Despite great effort, staff, RCMP, and Island Health have not been able to obtain voluntary compliance from the property owner to address these concerns over the last 10 years. Council decided to:

  • Declare the accessory building a nuisance,
  • Require the owner to demolish the accessory building and remove the resulting debris within 30 days of receiving a notice,
  • Provide notice of these decisions to the owner,
  • Inform the owner that they may request Council reconsideration within 14 days of receiving notice, and
  • If required actions are not completed by the owner within the required timeframes, North Cowichan may undertake the required actions and recover the costs of doing so from the owner.

Council then received a supplementary report and presentation from NRG Research Group on the recently completed Citizen Satisfaction Survey. The report provided more details on various aspects of the survey that were of interest to Council. Overall, the survey found that 97% of residents rate the overall quality of life in North Cowichan as good or very good, 89% of residents are satisfied with the overall level and quality of services provided by North Cowichan, and 4 in 5 residents feel that they get good value for their tax dollars. The supplementary information presented to Council is available on pp. 71-86 of the agenda.

Council then heard from three delegations:

  • Jock Hildebrand, who presented the concept of building a contemporary, purpose-built gallery to serve the needs of the Cowichan Valley and Vancouver Island.
  • Brad Grigor, who presented on the benefits provided by the Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society and provided an update on initiatives to develop a regional professional Community Arts Centre in North Cowichan.
  • Bill Routley, who presented on Chemainus River Campground’s request for assistance from North Cowichan to pursue an Agricultural Land Reserve exclusion application. On this item, Council passed a motion directing staff to initiate an exclusion application for the property, to authorize the Mayor to write to Provincial Ministers in support of the exclusion application, and to try to arrange meetings with Provincial representatives at the Union of BC Municipalities conference later in September.

Council next considered a staff report in response to concerns from a member of the local agricultural community about building setback requirements on agricultural lands. In general, North Cowichan’s regulations for setback requirements on agricultural lands are more restrictive than best practices set by the Ministry of Agriculture and relative to neighbouring jurisdictions. In response, Council passed a motion asking staff to prepare a zoning amendment bylaw to reduce front, rear, and side yard setbacks for ‘all other principle buildings,’ as detailed in the staff report on pp. 161-171 of the agenda.

Council made a number of decisions regarding retail cannabis sales applications:

  • Council gave first reading to a site specific zoning amendment application for retail cannabis sales at 8432 Trans-Canada Highway. The next step is for the applicant to hold an Information Meeting.
  • Council adopted a site specific zoning amendment for 2951 Green Road, proposed by Costa Canna Corp.
  • Council reconsidered its decision to grant third reading for a site specific zoning amendment for 2900 Drinkwater Road, proposed by the Liquor Distribution Branch, and decided to reaffirm third reading.

Finally, Council considered a notice of motion from Councillor Justice that, within a time frame appropriate to its use in the Official Community Plan process and the drafting of the new Zoning Bylaw, staff present Council with a report on reducing both the deposition of phosphorus into the watershed and the flow of phosphorus into Quamichan Lake, and outlining options and recommendations for a) defining an appropriate target or goal, and b) methods for achieving this target or goal, including engineering standards, and land use planning policies and regulations.

After discussion, Council decided to refer the motion to the next regular Council meeting and asked staff to seek advice from Dr. Preikshot, the consultant engaged to conduct research and monitoring on Quamichan Lake, prior to the next meeting.

That’s it for this week! Thank you for reading and staying informed. Our next Council meeting is Wednesday, September 18 at 1:30 p.m.

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan