Council Matters for July 21, 2021

Council met for about nine hours during our Regular Council meeting on July 21, 2021. Here are some highlights from the meeting:

During my Mayor’s report, l invited, Terry Dillon, CEO of Rowing Canada, to say a few words regarding the 2021 Summer Olympics set to kick-off in Tokyo on this weekend. Rowing Canada selected the Municipality of North Cowichan’s proposal to build its first-ever purpose-built National Training Centre on Quamichan Lake. The waters of Quamichan Lake now provide a world-leading environment for all Canadian rowing teams as they prepare and strive for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and for World Rowing Championships held annually. Olympic rowing competition begins Friday, with 29 athletes representing Canada in rowing. Everyone on Council, as well as staff attending today’s meeting, wore Rowing Canada Olympic Games t-shirts, as we get set to cheer our “hometown” athletes to gold. CBC is broadcasting the rowing events. You can view the schedule for our “home team” at

Next, we presented the Tom Walker Forest Legacy Bursaries and Scholarship to:

  • Halle Oud from Cowichan Senior Secondary School (Scholarship)
  • Melanie Cheng from Chemainus Secondary School (Bursary)
  • Ryan Hindle from Frances Kelsey School (Bursary)

The Tom Walker Forest Legacy awards are presented to secondary school graduates who are residents of North Cowichan and enrolled in a post-secondary institute such as a technical school, college or university, preferably in science related studies such as forestry, environmental, fisheries, hydrology, geotechnical etc. The scholarships are funded from revenues derived from the Municipal Forest Reserve. The award is named for Tom Walker, who was one of the first members of our Forest Advisory Committee and also served on North Cowichan Council for 20 years, including one term as Mayor. With Mr. Walker’s extensive background in Forestry, he played a significant role in helping to establish the Municipality’s sustainable forestry program which gives back to the community in many ways.

Barry O'Riordan, Manager of the Economic Development division of Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) provided an update on business retention, attraction, expansion and recovery & resiliency, sector development, and supporting communities.

Three Zoning Amendment Bylaws were considered:

  • 9376 Cottonwood Road, to permit the construction of a detached second dwelling, passed.
  • 2772 Herd Road, to permit a second detached dwelling unit in addition to a principal single family dwelling, passed.
  • Kingsview Comprehensive Development Zone, to introduce a Zoning Amendment Bylaw which would amend Area 3 in the Zone to include single unit and two-unit building types within the definition of a townhouse, passed first and second reading, and will proceed to a public hearing.

The Forest Use, Bylaw Offence Notice Enforcement, and Municipal Ticket Information Systems Bylaw Amendments received first three readings. The amendments, once adopted, will increase the fines for offences such as entering the forest when closed, illegal harvesting of trees, damaging trees or streams, having open fires when restricted, and more. Full details can be found on pages 176-191 of the agenda.

The Fireworks Regulation Bylaw also received first three readings. The bylaw sets out updated regulations and permitting requirements for fireworks within the municipality.

Council reviewed and adopted the draft Telecommunications Antenna Structures Policy that sets out a consultation area radius of 300 meters, that all applications require a public meeting, that all applications are to be adjudicated by Council, that there be certain exemption criteria for additions to existing structure less than 15 meters, and that there be an application fee of $1,000.

Council awarded the contract for the Cowichan Aquatic Centre Roofing Capital Project to Alpha Roofing and Cladding Inc. for $1,574,466 (plus GST). Funding will be allocated with $850,712 from North Cowichan Appropriated Surplus; $632,051 from the Cowichan Aquatic Centre Reserve Fund; and $224,703 from the City of Duncan. The work is expected to take place in 2022.

Staff presented three options seeking direction on the 2022-2026 Budget: Recovery, Status Quo, or Restraint. There was a lot of debate and discussion around the options, and the impacts in the near, medium, and long term to taxpayers, and for service and project delivery. In the end, Council approved a Recovery budget that includes a steady rate increase each year with a gradual return to sustainable capital program and an ability to maintain current service levels.

The 2022 Draft Budget Public Engagement Plan was also approved. The Municipality is required under the Community Charter to provide an opportunity for residents to have a say on the budget. This year, the plan includes informing residents about budget options, pros and cons of adjusting different service or projects, and different tax rate scenarios. The motion passed, so watch for information on the budget this fall.

Council directed staff to work with: Diamond Head Consulting to complete a simple comparison of the Environmental Policy Review and the draft Climate Action and Energy Plan (CAEP) actions; Sustainability Solutions Group to include an Eco-Industrial Lands Policy as an action in the final CAEP Implementation Plan; and, Community Energy Association to pursue potential partnerships and apply for grant funding in order to implement the recommendations under the draft CAEP. These actions were the result of recommendations from the Environmental Advisory Committee.

Next, Council approved a motion from Councillor Manhas to invite Resource Works’ Executive Director Stewart Muir to provide Council with a virtual or in person presentation on the organization's recent report, "Forestry in BC: Setting the Record Straight" as a method of building awareness about the present status of forest practices and forest management in British Columbia. However, Council determined not to endorse the second part of Councillor Manhas’ motion, which would have specifically invited Resource Works to provide input on our Municipal Forestry consultation. This was largely on the premise that they are free to provide that input without a formal invitation.

Council considered the recommendations from the July 13 Committee of the Whole meeting regarding the Official Community Plan project’s Growth Scenarios Survey Results. We accepted the recommendations in MODUS’ “What We Heard” report as a basis for drafting a growth management strategy and land use plan for the new Official Community Plan. However, Council omitted the part of the plan that references adding a health and wellness precinct in the Bell McKinnon area, adjacent to the hospital site. Council will further review this omitted portion of the report at an upcoming workshop so we can better consider the implications of this draft policy.

Council also accepted the draft Community Profiles for the Official Community Plan Update Project as recommended at the July 13 Committee of the Whole meeting. The draft profiles, as seen on pages 466-533 of the agenda, will be amended to better clarify their intent, including a description of the project limitation and how the profiles will and will not be used

Our meeting reconvened at 6:00 p.m. for a Public Hearing for a Zoning Amendment Bylaw for Lot A on Skinner Road (corner of Skinner and Cowichan Lake Roads) which outlines plans for a 66-unit apartment building, with one- and two-bedroom rental units. The plan includes 66 secure bike storage lockers, electric bike charging, and an on-site bike share program, in order to encourage bike use by residents. The site has easy access to commercial areas and is on the Cowichan Valley Trail. There is also a plan to preserve/replant 16 Oregon ash trees that are on the site, or had been removed during development of the shopping centre. The proponent also sought variances to increase the height of the building, and reduce parking. Both of these variances were approved by Council, as was third reading, and the application will be back before Council for final adoption.

During July and August, council meetings take place once per month, with the next one scheduled for Wednesday, August 18, 2021, at 1:30 p.m.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117