Council Matters for January 29, 2020

Council met for about 4 hours in open meetings on January 29, 2020. Here are some highlights from our Regular Council Meeting.

First Council heard from three delegations, Member of the Legislative Assembly, Sonia Furstenau presented first. She spoke about local democracy and its impact on our lives and communities, along with with her work at the legislature, and the importance of taking a non-partisan approach to issues like climate change, food security, and healthy communities with good infrastructure. Next Phillip and Heather MacDonald spoke regarding a zoning amendment request relating to their property at 4029 Normandy Road, which was on today’s Council agenda. Then Jill Maibach of Violet Wild Cannabis Co. spoke about their cannabis retail store application for 9750 Chemainus Road. 

Next, Council considered zoning amendment bylaw 3773, which proposes to permit two residential structures at 4029 Normandy Road to accommodate a carriage house. Under the property’s current zoning, only one residential unit is permitted. The property in question is slightly too small to meet the requirements for a second dwelling, as prescribed in the newly adopted Second Dwelling on Rural Lands Policy, which was adopted in December 2019. Since this policy was passed while the zoning application was in stream, Council decided to give first and second reading to the bylaw, as the property would have been eligible before the new policy was adopted. A public hearing on this zoning amendment will now be scheduled; you can read the full staff report on pages 26-42 of the Agenda

In August, Council reviewed and endorsed a proposal from staff to prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP) to hire an engagement consultant to facilitate public input on the development of an interim and long-term forest management plan for the Municipal Forest Reserve (MFR). Lees and Associates submitted the highest-scoring proposal and were contracted to carry out engagement. At this week’s meeting, Lees presented their draft engagement plan for Council’s approval. The plan covers deliverables, methods of engagement, a detailed timeline for public engagement, and discusses engaging with First Nations on a government to government level. Council approved the draft plan and directed staff to move forward with engagement. The full engagement plan can be found on pages 141 – 161 of the Agenda.

Council then considered a recommendation to hire a full-time Assistant Fire Chief to carry out Fire Inspections. The recommendation was defeated. Staff will now come back with alternative suggestions concerning achieving the goals of our provincially-mandated Fire Inspection Program. 

Next, Council considered implementing new panhandling signage, similar to what has been approved by the City of Duncan. The signage, at high-traffic intersections, is in support of recommendations from the Safer Working Group, which administers the Community Safety Office. The signs will stress that panhandling is dangerous and illegal, and encourage residents to instead donate to agencies that help those in need. Council decided to place the proposed signage at the Drinkwater Rd and Trans-Canada Highway Intersection. 

Council approved a motion directing the Mayor to write the CVRD to pursue options for transit service from the Cowichan Valley to the Duke Point and/or Departure Bay Ferry Terminals. This bus service would greatly benefit members of the public – particularly seniors – who rely on transit and increase their access to the ferry. 

Then, Council reviewed minutes from the First Nations Relations Committee (FNRC) from December 16, 2019. Per the Committee’s recommendation, Council adopted the FNRC’s terms of reference and adopted a resolution to rename several roads in the Stoney Hill area as suggested by Cowichan Tribes. Staff will now notify residents in the area, prepare a bylaw for the change in road names, and install appropriate signage. Council also reviewed a request to rename Crofton Beach Park to EJ Hughes Park. Per a recommendation from the FNRC, Council voted to reject this request pending a broader discussion with local First Nations on the naming of parks and other facilities. All minutes from the December 16 FNRC meeting can be found on pages 232-254 of the Agenda.

Finally, Council adopted a resolution for consideration at the upcoming convention of the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, asking for an amendment to Section 9 of the Community Charter. The amendment would be to deal with the effects of recent court rulings against the City of Victoria’s attempt to ban plastic shopping bags because the Bylaw violated the Charter’s language on “concurrent authority.” 

Thank you for reading and staying informed! Our next Regular Council Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 19, 2020, at 1:30 p.m.

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan