Council Matters for December 15, 2021

Council met for three-and-one-quarter hours during our Regular Council meeting on December 15, 2021. Here are some highlights from the meetings:

In my Mayor’s Report, I spoke of the continued impact of the historic flooding on the Chemainus River last month. The Halalt Nation, whose land is located along the river, asked Emergency Management BC to breach the E&N Railway right-of-way berm to allow a more free flow of water. Two breaches were created, on the understanding that the Province would restore the rail right of way using engineering standards acceptable to the Island Corridor Foundation, which owns the line. That work is now being engineered, with the possible installation of culverts to preclude the need for more breaches in the future. However, this raises the issue of flood plain mapping. Some mapping had already been done on the assumption that the railway berm would remain in place. The mapping will now have to be re-done to account for the change in water flows precipitated by the culverts, and negotiations are ongoing as to who will pay for that work. 

Earlier this week during the bi-monthly Vancouver Island Mayors’ conference call with Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne, Indigenous Affairs Minister Murray Rankin joined the call. The discussion highlighted work being done in many jurisdictions on improving relations and collaboration with a variety of First Nations. I shared briefly with respect to the MOU we have signed with the Cowichan Nation as part of our Municipal Forest Reserve review. There was also discussion around the impacts of UNDRIP on local governments, and Minister Rankin said the government continues to work through the particulars of that issue. 

A Zoning Amendment for a second dwelling at 6353 Genoa Bay Road was adopted.

The 2021-2025 Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw was read three times. The public is now invited to submit any comments to the Corporate Officer by 1pm on January 19, 2022. The bylaw amends the four-year financial plan to reflect various Council resolutions related to spending made during 2021.

The Revenue Anticipation Borrowing Bylaw was read three times. This bylaw provides the Municipality the ability to borrow money for a short term, if needed, to continue municipal operations while we wait for people to start paying their property taxes in June of next year. We passed a similar Bylaw last year, but we had sufficient money in reserves to preclude the need for short-term borrowing. 

The Non-Compliant Suites Policy and Fees & Charges Bylaw Amendment Bylaw also received first three readings. This policy addresses non-compliant suites (“illegal suites”) with the ability to place (and remove) a “Notice on Title” for non-compliant properties through the Fees & Charges Bylaw. The policy establishes procedural standards when addressing residential suites having bylaw contraventions, with the aim of prioritizing occupant safety, followed by tenant security. The enforcement policy will continue to be complaint-driven.

A Development Variance Permit was issued for 9909 Willow Street in order to allow the reconstruction of a non-conforming accessory building. The previous structure at this address was built almost 100 years ago and was considered non-repairable due to significant decay of the materials and foundation.

A Development Variance Permit Application was issued for the new Cowichan District Hospital to be built at 6775 Bell McKinnon Road in order to increase the maximum permitted height for from 30 metres to 65 metres for the southern portion of the building. This height is to allow for a rooftop helipad and associated facilities.

A Temporary Mobile Home Permit was approved for 6840 Mays Road in order to provide care of a sick or elderly person.

A plan to begin transitioning to Automated Garbage Collection was carried. The plan will see a $15 increase in the waste collection fee from $111 to $126 to be included in the 2022 Budget to cover the costs associated with creating the implementation plan, in order to transition to an automated truck collection system in 2023. The implementation plan will be presented to Council as part of the 2023 budget planning process and will include funding options on contracting out this service, either to a private contractor or perhaps to engage in a cooperative arrangement with another local government such as the CVRD.

The Fire Department inspection program update was also carried. The update included clarification around the removal of fire inspection fees, and directs staff to amend the Fees & Charges Bylaw accordingly. Council was also updated regarding the goals of the fire inspection program.

Council approved Indigenous Consultation & Engagement Training for 2022. The training provides an opportunity for staff and Council to attend a virtual training session aimed at strengthening knowledge around consultation and engagement with Indigenous peoples.

Councillor Justice’s notice of motion to explore the potential and likely economic impacts of development in the Bell McKinnon area was defeated. 

Councillor Manhas was appointed as the external liaison to Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce. This is a position I have held since the start of the term, but with my recent appointment to Chair the Committee of the Whole meetings at the CVRD, there was a scheduling conflict that precluded my continuing in this role. 

The next Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 19, at 1:30 p.m.

Have a safe and happy holiday season, and thank you for reading and staying informed!

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117