Council Matters for November 18, 2020

Council met for about three and a half hours during our Regular Council meeting on November 18, 2020.

Council heard from three delegations. First, Heather Pritchard and Elodie Roger from the Somenos Marsh Society spoke about the importance of riparian area protection in the Somenos watershed – especially in the context of the Official Community Plan (OCP) Update. Council decided to have the Somenos Marsh Society’s presentation sent to the Environmental Advisory Committee, once operational, and to MODUS, the consultants for the OCP project. Next, Cody Wicks spoke to Council regarding the Regenerative Land Stewards' request to utilize public land (on a long-term basis) in support of their collective farming idea to create value in agriculture, ecology, affordable housing, sustainable development, and more.

During the last delegation, Inspector Chris Bear presented the Third Quarter Report for the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP, covering the period of July to October 2020. During this time there were 5,424 calls for service, which is down 12% from the same period in 2019. There were 38 mental health apprehensions in North Cowichan and the detachment saw a large increase for check well-being calls. Due to the pandemic, fewer summer festivals and gatherings were held that would have required calls for police service, however, summer was busy at the detachment as RCMP training and staffing actions resumed. The full report is on pages 36-54 of the agenda.

Inspector Bear also noted that the Cowichan Valley Regional District has issued an expression of interest for community policing services. Historically the Cowichan Community Policing Advisory Services Society (CPAC) has delivered this service; however, the Society has now dissolved. Community policing services include educational programs; events and activities to reduce crime in communities; collaboration with individuals, groups, businesses and the detachment to build awareness; and more.

Next, Council adopted the Temporary Borrowing Bylaw for the new RCMP facility that allows North Cowichan to borrow funds as needed, as opposed to taking on the full debt load and paying interest on the full amount now.

Council gave first reading to a Zoning Bylaw Amendment Application that proposes a detached second dwelling at 934 Khenipsen Road. Before considering second reading however, Council requested:

  • a second Geotechnical Report to ensure safety of the building in the event of a seismic event;
  • a plan for adequately dealing with the wastewater to ensure the system meets environmental and health standards; and
  • a statement about whether the applicants’ intent is to complete all the necessary steps to obtain a building permit and undertake the required alterations, or to undergo a basic life safety review and accept a notice on title.

The full staff report can be found on pages 58-99 of the agenda.

Due to the age and poor condition of the Crofton Fire Hall, Council considered a long-term solution for upgrading or replacing the hall, which was built in 1964. In 2018, a Facility Condition Assessment was completed which advised that $1.25 million in repairs and upgrades would be needed within the next ten years. A Seismic Assessment was completed in 2019 and recommended $90,000 of upgrades. Additionally, the second floor addition, which was built without permits, was found to have insufficient load carrying capacity and was closed in 2019. As a result, the Crofton Fire Hall has been without an assembly space for practices and training since August 2019. Council directed staff to include $3.5 million in the 2021-2025 Financial Plan for upgrades to the Crofton Fire Hall for demolition of the original 1964 building to replace it with a smaller 2,150 (gross) square foot addition, and associated upgrades to the truck bays built in 2002. Funding will need to be sought through elector assent, and is proposed to be done through an Alternative Approval Process like the RCMP facility.

Next, Council considered the Terms of Reference for the Environmental Advisory Committee which is to be re-enacted. The draft terms can be found in the addendum agenda. After some discussion, Council approved the Terms of Reference, making one small change to the second bullet under Membership, changing it to: Have demonstrated experience and interest, or expertise in environmental matters affecting North Cowichan. Council appointed Councillor Marsh as Chair of the Environmental Advisory Committee, and directed staff to advertise for volunteers and bring back a report for potential appointments in January 2021.

Council passed a motion directing staff to communicate to the OCP Project consultants (MODUS) that protection of our rare ecosystems and the species that inhabit them is a priority of Council and that this should be a strong consideration in the formulation of our OCP's land use policy.

Finally, Council directed the Mayor to write a letter to the Premier if provincial travel restrictions are not announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, November 19, 2020.

Our next meeting will take place electronically on Wednesday, December 2, 2020, at 1:30 pm.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117
E Mayor@northcowichan.ca