Council Matters for December 16, 2020

Council met for about 3 hours during our Regular Council meeting on December 16, 2020.

Mayor Siebring was absent from our meeting, so I, Tek Manhas, chaired the meeting as Deputy Mayor.

First, Council heard from a delegation. Florie Varga, Jas Doman, Will Arnold, and Ruth Hartmann of a Voice for Our Children addressed council regarding concerns about the proposed Wellness and Recovery Centre at 5878 York Road. This group was activated to advocate against the location of the proposed wellness centre. They expressed their position that the York Road location is unsuitable due to its immediate proximity to four community schools and multiple recreational facilities which disproportionately impacts our communities’ youth. Council will discuss the delegation’s proposed recommended motion asking that North Cowichan communicate to Island Health and Premier Horgan that it does not support the 5878 York Street location of the Wellness and Recovery Centre at a future meeting.

Council adopted the Nuisance Abatement and Cost Recovery Bylaw and gave the first three readings to subsequent amendments to the Fees and Charges and Municipal Ticket Information System Bylaws. These amendments will allow the Nuisance Abatement and Cost Recover Bylaw and/or the Controlled Substance Bylaw to be enforced by municipal ticket and for fees to be established for remedial work completed by North Cowichan.

Then, Council amended the Animal Responsibility Bylaw to add increased seasonal, off-leash access for dogs to select foreshore areas in North Cowichan, at the following locations:

  • Pender Road Stairs,
  • Crofton Beach Park Foreshore, and
  • Cook Street to Vista Grande Foreshore.

Access will be granted on a trial basis beginning January 1, 2021, excluding June 16 to September 30 for these 3 new locations. On site, expect to see clear signage on where on/off leash areas for dogs are. An informational campaign will be carried out that highlights the new areas, expected dog owner behaviour, along with available dog services at each location. Staff will come back to Council before November 30, 2021 with a report detailing how the trial access went so Council can contemplate if the increased foreshore access should become permanent. Look for details in the future to let us know your thoughts. 

Council received an update on the Official Community Plan engagement to date and next steps. Since June, the community has been engaged through a Visions and Goals Survey, and an interactive, photo-based Community Character Survey, in alignment with the consultant’s engagement plan. Council affirmed a list of inter-governmental organizations and a plan to consult with local governments; First Nations; boards of education; and the provincial and federal governments and their agencies. Inter-governmental consultation is a requirement of the Local Government Act, and staff’s proposed plan satisfies that requirement. The full report and more details on the engagement can be found on pages 153-194 of the agenda.

Council decided to cancel the first meeting in January, proposed for January 13, 2021, due to a conflict with the Cowichan Valley Regional District meeting schedule. Should any urgent matters arise prior to the January 20, 2021 regular Council meeting, staff will schedule a special meeting.

Council then revisited a motion that was introduced at the December 2 Council meeting, which was subsequently deferred until after staff brought forward their annual business plans. The motion, as introduced, directs staff to work with the Cowichan Housing Association to develop an affordable housing policy and implementation strategy. After some discussion, Council decided to refer the motion to staff to bring back a report on the proposed policy and implementation strategy.

In response to correspondence received regarding parking issues at the Kaspa Road trailhead at Mount Tzouhalem, Council directed staff to provide a report exploring short and long-term solutions to mitigate the traffic and parking challenges for Council’s consideration. 

Finally, Council adopted eight recommendations from the December 15, 2020, Committee of the Whole budget meeting, including authorizing the Forest Reserve Fund to be used to cover the 2021 operating budget deficit for the Forestry department while the forestry review, public engagement, and First Nations consultation are ongoing; approving the Capital Expenditure Program as presented; and approving, in principle, the 2021 Operating Budget, subject to a maximum 2.31% net tax increase.

Council directed staff to include the following new positions in the 2021 budget, effective January 1, 2021:

  • Assistant Fire Chief,
  • Planning Manager, and
  • Engineering Tech – Environmental.

Council also directed staff to add the following supplemental items to the 2021 budget:

  • Ten Year Capital Plan
  • Subdivision Bylaw Update
  • CAEP Implementation
  • Somenos Creek/Lake Management Plan
  • Chemainus River Watershed Management Plan
  • Biodiversity Protection Policy

More detail on the operating budget, capital expenditure plan; and supplemental items and positions can be found in the December 15 Committee of the Whole agenda on pages 3-105.

Our next meeting will take place electronically on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 1:30 pm. 

Thank you for reading and staying informed!


Tek Manhas
Deputy Mayor, Councillor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117