Council Matters for July 15, 2020

Council met for about five hours during our Regular Council meeting on July 15, 2020.

 First, Council considered and accepted the 2019 Annual Municipal Report. This document compiles our 2019 financial statements; municipal initiatives of note; and successes and progress toward achieving Council’s Strategic Plan. The full report can be viewed here.

 Then, Council heard from four delegations. The first was Kate Black, of Malatest & Associates, who presented the final report on the Cowichan Region Child Care Plan. Malatest & Associates undertook research and consultation on behalf of the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) to develop a child care plan for the region for the next ten years. The full report can be found on pages 136-446 of the agenda.

 Next, Council heard from Heidi Hartman, Vancouver Island Regional Director of BC Housing. She presented an update on the upcoming public engagement BC Housing will undertake on the 50-unit supportive, purpose-built housing facility which will be located at 2983 Drinkwater Road. The full presentation can be found on pages 447-454 of the agenda. Council then heard from Shayne Williams, CEO of the Lookout Society. Lookout will be operating North Cowichan’s new supportive housing facility that BC Housing is constructing on Drinkwater Road. The full presentation can be found on pages 455-463 of the agenda.

 Finally, Council heard from Inspector Chris Bear who delivered the second quarter RCMP Report, and the draft Annual Performance Plan and Department Operations Overview. During the second quarter, the RCMP saw an unprecedented time with the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the movement to address systemic racism in police institutions across the United States and Canada. On June 12, there was a Black Lives Matter protest in Duncan which was an extremely peaceful and well-attended community event. In response to calls to reform the police, Inspector Bear acknowledged that there is no place for racism within the RCMP and the North Cowichan/Duncan detachment is working with local community groups to find ways to better serve the community. The full Report and Overview be found on pages 455-484 of the agenda.

 On June 10, Council initiated an alternative approval process (AAP) to obtain elector assent to borrow funds to construct a new integrated RCMP facility that will house provincial, municipal, and indigenous police members, as well as South Island Traffic and Forensic Identification Services. A total of 1,234 valid elector response forms were accepted in opposition to the proposal, which represented 4.6% of North Cowichan’s eligible electors. This was an insufficient number to prevent Council from proceeding with the borrowing bylaw. As such, Council approved the North Cowichan/Duncan Integrated RCMP Facility Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 3787. Construction for the new facility will begin next year.

 We then considered a new bylaw that proposed to defer the annual tax sale on September 28, 2020, to September 27, 2021. Earlier this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Council extended the property tax payment due date to September 30, 2020, which established the 2020 property tax due date to occur two days after the tax sale date for this year. North Cowichan consistently collects over 95% of current taxes each year and offer very few properties for sale at the annual tax sale, and with such a high rate of collection, we learned that there would be little to no impact to operations by extending the tax sale date by one year. Council agreed to adopt the Tax Sale Deferment Bylaw, resulting in no tax sale this year, with the next one taking place on September 27, 2021.

 Next, Council gave first, second, and third reading to 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 January 1, 2021. In conjunction with this, Council approved a policy to implement a staged rebate program for new builds in North Cowichan that voluntarily comply with Step 2 (or higher) of the BC Energy Step Code. Rebates for voluntarily reaching Step 2 will be offered until compliance with this step is mandatory in 2021. Council allocated $30,000 from the Climate Action Reserve Fund to provide rebates on a first-come-first-served basis until funds are exhausted. Two information sessions on the new rebate program will be held digitally over the summer, dates will be confirmed and posted on our website soon. 

 Council then considered a rezoning application that would allow for retail cannabis sales in the Beverly Corners Shopping Centre at 2763 Beverly Street. After some discussion, Council gave first and second reading to the rezoning application. A public hearing will be held on this application at a later date for the public to provide input.

 Council considered how to accommodate public input and participation in Council, Committee and Advisory Body of Council meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the wake the Provincial Health Officer’s orders easing, a new Ministerial Order was brought forward to allow local governments to resume offering physical space to observe council proceedings in-person. However, at this time, we are unable to safely resume in-person meetings while observing physical distancing requirement. As a result, Council decided to continue live-streaming meetings and offering the opportunity to receive public input via email to accommodate requirements of transparency and participatory governance.

 Finally, Council considered a request to provide the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment with a letter of support for their provincial grant application seeking funding to develop a Situation Table in the community. Situation Tables are weekly meetings involving several community groups including public health and safety, and social service agencies, who collaboratively work to address and aid individuals in the community who are identified to be at-risk. Councilor Sawrie was appointed to attend a one-hour community meeting for information on the Situation Table, and Council approved the request for a letter of support.

 Our next Regular Council meeting will take place, electronically, on Wednesday, August 19, at 1:30 pm.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

 Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117