Council Matters for October 7, 2020

Council met for about 3 hours during our Regular Council meeting on October 7, 2020.

First, Council considered a Respectful Spaces Bylaw. The purpose of this Bylaw is to address situations of inappropriate behaviours by all persons using municipal facilities (staff and the public), including a detailed complaint process, procedures for enforcement, consequences of a breach (including suspensions and/or monetary fines) and an appeal process. Council gave first, second, and third reading to the bylaw and will consider it for adoption at a later meeting.

To help support the Council Standards of Conduct Policy, Council considered an amendment to the Council Remuneration Bylaw. The amendment would result in a reduction in compensation or Councillors who are found to breach the Standards of Conduct Policy, with the garnished remuneration contributing to the costs of engaging a third-party investigator.

The bylaw proposes increased sanctions where continuous breaches of the Policy arise by the same member. The amounts proposed in the Bylaw are:

  • a 10% reduction for 12 months for the first offence (i.e. approximately $3,000 for a Councillor or $8,000 for the Mayor during those 12 months),
  • a 15% reduction for 12 months for the second offence (from that point forward, any overlap between the first offence and second offence will increase the reduction to 25% while those periods coincide), and,
  • a 25% reduction for 12 months for the third and subsequent offences (overlapping offences within those 12 months could result in reductions of 50% where there are three concurrent offences, 75% for four concurrent offences, or even 100% if there are five or more concurrent offences).

After some discussion, Council gave first, second, and third reading to the bylaw.  It will also come back for consideration of adoption at a later date. 

Next, Council received and accepted staff’s Council Strategic Plan third-quarter report detailing progress on Council’s Strategic Plan. The third quarter covered the period of July 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. The full report can be viewed on pages 44-59 of the agenda. The first and second-quarter reports can be found on our website.          

Council considered a request to apply for Community Resiliency Investment funding to reduce the risk of wildfire within the community. The Community Resiliency Investment (CRI) program is a provincial program managed by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to reduce the risk and impact of wildfire on B.C. communities through community funding, supports, and priority fuel management activities. The proposed CRI grant application is for a total project cost of $135,345, focusing on fuel management, FireSmart planning, and community education as recommended in the draft Community Wildfire Protection Plan which is currently under review with the UBCM. 

Council authorized staff to submit an application to the CRI 2021 FireSmart Community Funding and Supports Program for grant funding which would be used to hire a qualified professional to conduct detailed treatment prescriptions in the high-risk areas, including critical infrastructure, fuel reduction treatments around critical infrastructure as per the approved treatment prescriptions, and development of a Wildfire Development Permit Area. The full report can be found on pages 60-76 of the agenda.

In January 1997, the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) and the Municipality of North Cowichan entered into a 50-year lease agreement for the maintenance of Osborne Bay Regional Park. Since 1997, the CVRD Regional Park system has greatly expanded, and they now have the internal capacity to assume maintenance of this park. Returning this responsibility to the CVRD would enable North Cowichan park staff to perform other work within the municipal boundary that would benefit North Cowichan residents. Council decided to return Osborne Bay Regional Park maintenance back to the CVRD, effective January 1, 2021.

Council then considered extending the 60-day pause on the public engagement on the future of the Municipal Forest Reserve that was previously mandated on July 15 for Council to facilitate a government-to-government consultation with local First Nations. Out of respect for the First Nation consultation process and the potential for the outcome to impact the scope and scale of public engagement, Council decided to extend the pause while the First Nations consultation continues.

Council received two separate, informal petitions containing 106 total signatures requesting the installation of speedbumps on Indian Road and Beaumont Avenue. Staff recently carried out a traffic study on Indian Road, which suggests some traffic calming measures are necessary. Council directed staff to engage with the community before bringing a report back to Council with proposed traffic calming methods.

Staff have taken traffic counts to determine the average speed and volume of traffic on Beaumont Avenue. They identified some additional safety concerns but did not determine there was a need for traffic calming measures. Council directed staff to carry out a study to determine potential safety improvements and risk mitigation measures for Beaumont Avenue.

While discussing Indian Road, Council acknowledged that the road should be renamed and directed staff to refer potentially renaming the road to the First Nations Relations Advisory Committee for further consideration, consultation, and action.

Finally, Council directed the Mayor to write a letter of support from Council for the Halalt First Nation to submit with their grant application under the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund to make their gymnasium and community hall more energy efficient.

And, in our closed meeting, Council approved a change for the construction of the new North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP facility from mass timber to structural steel. Since elector assent was sought to proceed with borrowing the cost of a new RCMP facility, and Council subsequently approved the borrowing bylaw, staff observed a steep increase in the cost of mass timber (150% this year alone) and a shortage in supply due to COVID-19. In modelling our facility after the new Fort St John RCMP building, staff have been able to watch and learn from their experience. The challenges and escalating costs Fort St John has faced using mass timber demonstrated a need for our staff to work with the construction manager to determine if this was the best material to use in the construction of our facility. The construction manager determined that structural steel would be a feasible alternative to mass timber and would cost approximately $1.8 million less to use, thus creating a saving in the capital budget for this project. Council was assured that the building will still have a "West Coast look" with the use of wood trim and other features. 

Our next meeting will take place electronically on Wednesday, October 21, 2020, at 1:30 pm.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117