Council Matters for August 19, 2020

Council met for about three hours during our Regular Council meeting on August 19, 2020. 

First, Council approved an amendment to the Building Bylaw that will require all new construction in North Cowichan to comply with Step 2 of the BC Energy Step Code, as of May 1, 2021. In conjunction with this, at our last regular Council Meeting, Council approved a policy to implement a staged incentive program for new builds in North Cowichan that voluntarily meet Step 2 (or higher) of the BC Energy Step Code. $30,000 has been allocated from the Climate Action Reserve Fund to provide incentives on a first-come-first-served basis until funds are exhausted. The new incentive program launches October 1, for more information or to apply for an incentive, visit our website at www.northcowichan.ca/stepcode.           

Then, Council considered and adopted a Policy and proposed amendments to the Zoning Bylaw that recognizes soil-based cannabis production in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) as a farm use that can’t be prohibited and establishes a framework for Council to consider applications for non-soil based cannabis production facilities in the ALR on a case-by-case basis. 

Next, Council received the results of a feasibility study that was carried out to determine if net-zero energy is feasible for the new RCMP facility. The study includes recommended options for achieving net-zero and cost approximately $22,000. We are expecting to get about $11,000 reimbursed in a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The net-zero model selected in the feasibility study represented a 77% energy savings, which equates to an estimated $71,000 per annum in monetary savings. Council directed staff to apply for an FCM capital grant and loan for the new RCMP building to partially offset the cost premium of constructing a net-zero building which would reduce the payback period and total cost. More information and the full report can be found on pages 36-43 of the agenda

At our August 11 Committee of the Whole Meeting, the Committee participated in a staff-led workshop to explore the scope of an RCMP Service Review, which is a planned project identified in the 2019-2022 Council Strategic Plan. After thoughtful reflection, discussion, and debate, the Committee unanimously endorsed a two-part review project that would meet Council’s objectives. This process is comprised of a financial review to look at value for money and identify potential cost savings; and a gap analysis to review gaps and/or opportunities in social service delivery within the community. Council directed staff to proceed to procurement and prepare an RFP to facilitate the gap analysis. This portion of the review is anticipated to require a budget of $25,000. However, a clearer picture of the budget will emerge after the procurement process. 

In response to several safety-related concerns raised by community members in Chemainus, Council directed staff to install a new signalized crosswalk on Henry Road, adjacent to the Mt. Brenton Golf Course. The cost of this project is approximately $60,000 and will be covered by funds re-allocated from the Chemainus Road Upgrade Project, as Phase Two has come in under-budget. The estimated cost includes a painted crosswalk, flashing beacons, as well as protective barriers and a channelized concrete median for lane narrowing and traffic calming. Construction will begin in the early fall. It is anticipated the new crosswalk will aid in increasing pedestrian safety. 

Next, Council directed staff to proceed with re-opening Fuller Lake Arena under the guidance of the COVID-19 Restoration of Programs & Services Plan which will allow a phased resumption of services beginning September 8, 2020. This will be done in alignment with COVID-19 restrictions outlined for facility usage and is in-step with guidelines from the Provincial Health Officer, senior levels of government, and our regional partners including the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Town of Ladysmith, and the City of Duncan. 

Council received the 2020 Second Quarter Financial Report which provided an update of the Operational, Capital, and reserve fund balances, for the period ending June 30, 2020. The Second Quarter Report usually gives a good indication of how the Municipality is doing operationally compared to the budget. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has proven to be challenging in predicting revenues other than taxation and expenditures in some areas such as recreation services. While Operating revenues are down, 21% of the capital budget has been committed to-date compared to 16% at the same time in 2019. The whole report can be viewed on pages 71-96 on the agenda

Next, Council lifted the moratorium on delegations which was enacted at the March 18 regular Council meeting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Council also placed a limit of three virtual delegations per meeting. 

Council considered a Notice of Motion geared at increasing inclusivity in North Cowichan. After some discussion, Council resolved that as part of 2021 business planning staff will consider what may be further required to achieve Council’s vision for an inclusive community; that a Committee of the Whole meeting be scheduled for fall 2020 to clarify Council’s vision for an inclusive community; and that Staff report back to Council with a proposal in early 2021.

Finally, Council authorized me to write a letter to Island Health. The intent of the letter will be to express support for the enhanced services envisioned for the new Wellness and Recovery Centre at 5878 York Road, but to object to the lack of community consultation concerning the siting of the facility. As such, we will be asking Island Health to pause any further development of the Centre until public consultation with businesses and residents in the neighbourhood is completed.  

Our next Regular Council meeting will take place, electronically, on Wednesday, September 2, at 1:30 pm.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117
E Mayor@northcowichan.ca