Council Matters for January 20, 2021

Council met for about two and a half hours during our first Regular Council meeting of the New Year on January 20, 2021.

Council adopted an amendment to the Animal Responsibility Bylaw to add increased seasonal, off-leash access for dogs to select foreshore areas in North Cowichan, at the following locations:

  • Pender Road Stairs,
  • Crofton Beach Park Foreshore, and
  • Cook Street to Vista Grande Foreshore.

Access will be granted on a trial basis beginning January 1, 2021, excluding June 16 to September 30 for these 3 new locations.

Next, Council gave first two readings to a proposed amendment to the Zoning Bylaw to allow construction of a detached second dwelling at 9376 Cottonwood Road. Staff determined that this zoning amendment was largely compliant with the existing (2011) Official Community Plan, and other relevant municipal policies. The full staff report can be viewed on pages 169-188 of the agenda. Owners and occupants of neighbouring properties will be able to provide input on this proposed amendment to the Zoning Bylaw when it proceeds to a public hearing.

Council granted a development variance permit to reduce the setback for the Duncan Curling Club building, located at 3191 Sherman Road. The setback will be reducedfrom 8-metres to 3.08-metres to facilitate the subdivision of the property for an affordable housing development. North Cowichan owns this parcel of land and recently leased a portion of it to the Community Land Trust of BC for a 92 unit development (consisting of 34 townhouses and 58 apartments) funded under the BC Housing Community Housing Fund. More information can be found on pages 189-203 of the agenda.

Next, Council awarded the construction tenders from Tender Package 1 for the new RCMP Facility to be located at the corner of Drinkwater and Ford Roads. This tender package included eight separate tenders for various aspects of the superstructure components, four of which required Council’s approval. The full list of tenders and successful proponents can be found in the staff report on pages 204 – 206 of the agenda.

The Cowichan Aquatic Centre’s roof has been deemed to be reaching the end of its useful life. In the November 2017 Conditions Report, it was recommended that the roof should be replaced within the next five years. As a result, this project was placed into the Capital Budget Plan with funding slated to come from a combination of general revenues and facility reserve funds.

In December 2020, staff recognized that this project could be eligible for support through a program that the provincial and federal governments have partnered on, called the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream (CVRIS) program, which is part of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP).  

As such, Council authorized staff to apply for CVRIS-ICP funding in the amount of $1,653,744 (plus GST) which would cover off 100% of this projects proposed costs. The application must be submitted by January 27, 2021. If North Cowichan is unsuccessful in its grant application, a review of the 2021-2025 capital project list will be required to modify the timing and prioritization of projects to ensure the roof replacement occurs no later than 2022. More information can be found on pages 207-208 of the agenda.

In 2019, Council directed staff to pause engagement on proposed amendments to the Firearms Discharge Bylaw until January 2021. The intent of this was to allow the forestry review to be completed during this time so that any relevant outcomes could be included in the proposed bylaw amendments before seeking public input. However, the forestry review is not yet completed as it, along with the community engagement on the highest and best use of the Municipal Forest Reserve, is now suspended to facilitate government-to-government consultation with local First Nations. Council directed staff to continue the pause in engagement on the Firearms Discharge Bylaw until the forestry review is completed. At that time, staff will prepare a report to the Forestry Advisory Committee requesting they provide their recommendation to Council on the proposed amendments based upon the outcome of the Forestry Review.

On September 21, 2020, the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society (SMWS) submitted an application to North Cowichan’s Parks and Recreation Department toformally rename a portion of the Dike Trail (from the Somenos Conservation Area to Tzouhalem Road) to ‘S’amunu Trail.’ Council considered this request, decided to approve the proposed new name for this section of trail,and directed staff to work with Cowichan Tribes and the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society to install new signage.

Next, Council appointed twelve community members to the newly re-instated Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) and agreed to amend the Committee’s Terms of Reference to increase Committee membership from nine to twelve. The new committee members are Sandy McPherson, Neil Anderson, David Coulson, Cameron Campbell, Dr. Zoe Dalton, Dr. Shannon Waters, Ashley Muckle, Bruce Coates, Per Dahlstrom, Dr. Jana Kotaska, Dr. Jesse Patterson, and Dr. Geoffrey Strong. For more information, the full media release can be found here.

Council approved the 2021 grant-in-aid amounts, per the January 12, 2021, Committee of the Whole recommendation. All of the grant-in-aid recipients and amounts can be found on pages 236-241 of the agenda

Finally, under new business, Council authorized me to write a letter to Premier Horgan and Island Health encouraging them to explore alternative locations for the Wellness and Recovery Centre to be located at 5878 York Road. Our Council is very much alive to the fact that this type of service is needed in our community, and asked that I convey the urgency of opening a Wellness and Recovery Centre in the Cowichan Valley. However, they also wanted to ensure that both Premier Horgan and Island Health are aware of the community concerns we’ve been hearing regarding this location.

Our next meeting will take place electronically on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, at 1:30 pm. 

Thank you for reading and staying informed!


Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117