Council Matters for February 19, 2020

Council met for about 3 hours in open meetings on February 19, 2020. Here are some highlights from our Regular Council Meeting.

The meeting opened with my Mayor’s report. I spoke about some highlights of the past three weeks, particularly the Local Government Leadership Academy conference in Richmond. The experience was extremely valuable, and I particularly enjoyed learning about functional communication with the community and constituents. Several Councillors who were in attendance also spoke about the conference. Councillor Sawrie especially enjoyed the “Women in Leadership” session that explored ways to encourage more female participation in local politics. Councillor Manhas spoke to the theme of the conference being inclusion and diversity and what that meant for him. Councillor Justice talked about his favourite session, hosted by the Municipal Finance Authority, which addressed Municipal finance shortfalls in the face of ongoing challenges like climate change, natural disasters, and aging infrastructure.

Council then considered renaming portions of Humbird Street and Green Road. It was proposed to rename the portions of Green Road in question to Crosland Place, which would affect three properties, one of which is a dormant development. Staff had also proposed that the portion of Humbird Street north of Wul’aam Park be renamed to MacMillan Street. While Council agreed to the renaming of Green Road, staff were directed to write a letter to the Penelakut Nation to obtain alternative names for Humbird Street in recognition of the culturally significant features of that area. 

Next, Council decided to refer an invitation to host the BC Summer and Winter Games in 2024 or 2026 to the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) to be held as a regional event. 

Council adopted a Trail Maintenance Policy, the purpose of which would provide a framework to allocate available resources to maintain our community trails on a priority basis. This policy will outline maintenance criteria, how to prioritize trails, and how to budget most effectively to ensure our trails are maintained at a safe level for public use.

Then, Council discussed a Notice of Motion proposing enhanced environmental protection. The basis for this is outlined in the OCP, in Council’s Strategic Plan which prioritizes stewarding healthy forests, rivers, and lakes, and in Council acknowledging the climate emergency. The intent of the motion is to direct staff to prepare an inventory of North Cowichan’s current approach to environmental protection, and a recommended process to achieve a ‘state of the art’ approach to strong and effective environmental protection. While this motion is meant to work in synergy with the OCP Update Project, preparing an inventory of current environmental protection could expose current gaps and the limitations of local government’s authority to regulate environmental protection, which could be useful as we undertake the OCP Project. After some discussion, the Motion passed unanimously.

Thank you for reading and staying informed! Our next Regular Council Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 4, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. 

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan