Council Matters for March 4, 2020

Council met for about 3 hours in open meetings on March 4, 2020. Here are some highlights from our Regular Council Meeting.

Council heard from two delegations, first the Cowichan Green Community, discussed some major accomplishments and projects from 2019 and highlighted their success. Then, Broombusters Invasive Plant Society presented about the organization’s efforts to manage the invasive scotch broom plant. Along with causing allergic reactions, this alien plant can be a major fire hazard, and endangers our forests.

Then, Council approved the Strategic Plan Administration Policy that creates a clear process for Council’s oversight of staff’s progress in implementing Council’s Strategic Plan. This policy will also allow for regular updates to the Strategic Plan to ensure it best reflects Council’s interests and priorities.

Next, Council reconsidered the proposed position of a Senior Social and Housing Planner butdecided to postpone this discussion until Council receives a presentation from Cowichan Housing and can have a workshop to discuss the merits of this position.

Council then directed the Mayor to write a follow up letter to the list of Ministers contacted via the February 16 letter from the Cowichan Leadership Group. The purpose of of the follow up letter would be to explain the challenges our community is facing with the ongoing mental health, homelessness, and opioid crises. The February letter was sent in an attempt to obtain support and funding from key Ministries for North Cowichan and surrounding local governments. The second letter will echo this, but also outline more specifically the social, financial, and staff capacity impacts these crises are having on North Cowichan, as well as reiterating the request for Provincial assistance with these issues. 

Next, Council directed staff to draft a Respectful Spaces Bylaw, as was originally discussed at the February 19 Committee of the Whole Meeting. This Bylaw will seek to provide a framework for respectful interaction between the public, municipal staff, and elected officials and will outline clear processes for action if interactions become disrespectful or inappropriate.

Finally, Council endorsed staff’s BC Energy Step Code Implementation Strategy and directed staff to move forward with it.  The strategy will see North Cowichan adopt a rebate program to incentivize new builds to meet Step 2 of the BC Energy Step Code voluntarily.  Step 2 of the Code will be mandated by the Province in January of 2022, but North Cowichan has decided to provide incentives to developers to implement this more quickly. The money is envisioned to come from the Climate Action and Energy Plan reserve fund.  Council was also interested in incentivizing retrofits for existing homes to make them more energy efficient, and directed staff to prepare a report on how this could be done.

Thank you for reading and staying informed! Our next Regular Council Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, 2020, at 1:30 p.m.

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan