Council Matters for March 17, 2021

Council met for seven hours during our Regular Council meeting on March 17, 2021.

We began the meeting with a delegation from Cathy Peters who shared information about human sex trafficking, sexual exploitation and child sex trafficking in B.C. As the fastest growing crime in the world, Ms. Peters shared about the prevention and education work she has been doing since the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Actbecame law in 2014. Council passed a motion to bring the topic forward at a future Committee of the Whole meeting to discuss further. Ms. Peters also shared her website as a resource for more information on the topic.

Council agreed to reorder the agenda to discuss item 11.2 next so we could include Inspector Chris Bear in the discussion. We discussed the online (informal) petition regarding the RCMP service levels in Chemainus and Crofton, an expression of concern from some residents in the north-end of the municipality in regards to a lack of police presence in their communities. Inspector Bear reiterated how few resources the detachment currently has for proactive patrols, explaining that officers are spending the vast majority of their time actively responding to calls. Council passed a motion requesting that staff bring forward a formal report outlining the various options, including pros and cons, for increasing the police presence in Chemainus and Crofton.

Next, we discussed a Zoning Amendment Application for 2772 Herd Road that would permit a second detached dwelling on the property. A two-family dwelling is permitted under the current A2 zoning, and this zoning amendment would reallocate the same density to two detached residential buildings. Council gave first and second reading, and this will back to us for a Public Hearing and third reading in the coming weeks.

Council then considered an Agricultural Land Commission Exclusion Application and Joint OCP-Zoning Amendment Application for 3137 Henry Road. The application requests that a 2.1 ha portion of the property be excluded from the ALR, and the zoning be changed from “Rural/ALR” to “Chemainus Industrial”. A complicated file with many competing interests, this property has a long history of non-compliance including unauthorized building, incomplete permits, and bylaw contraventions. That said, in recent years, the new owner has completed significant site remediation on the property. After much discussion, Council voted to authorize that the application be forwarded to the Agricultural Land Commission recommending that the exclusion from the Agricultural Land Reserve be approved. Council also gave first reading to OCP and Zoning Amendment Bylaws that would reclassify the subject property from Rural Restricted (A3) Zone to Light Industrial (I1) Zone. This will come back before Council for further consideration after the Agriculture Land Commission has made its decision.

Council gave pre-budget approval for a number of 2021 Parks and Recreation capital projects. These include: re-roofing the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, Kinsmen Beach Park washroom replacement, Kaspa parking lot Washroom upgrade, Nevilane parking lot upgrades (including a washroom), Maple Bay Park and Fuller Lake Park septic system replacements, and Evans Ball Park Barn upgrades. Council agreed to give the projects, which will all be funded through grants, pre-budget approval, allowing them to proceed now before the 2021 budget is finalized this spring.

We considered a request from the Chemainus Rotary Club to install a new mural on the north end of the Chemainus Bunker. Council agreed to authorize the installation of the mural and signage, and directed staff to work with the Chemainus Festival of Murals Society on the installation.

Also on the agenda for pre-budget approval was the Fuller Lake Re-Roofing Capital Project. We had applied for grant funding for this project as well, but that request was denied due to an oversubscription of the grant stream. The current roof was installed in 1991 and has exceeded its expected lifespan. The goal is to complete this project this year during the slower season at the arena, to limit the disruption of programming and services. With a total project cost of $870,000, Council agreed to fund the project with $150,000 from general revenues and $720,000 from the Infrastructure Replacement Reserve Fund.

At 6:00 p.m., we paused our Regular Council meeting to move into a Public Hearing for a Zoning Amendment Bylaw that would allow cannabis sales at 2763 Beverly Street. On February 17, Council agreed to rescind our previous third reading on this application in order to hold a second Public Hearing so that we could consider late correspondence from Cowichan Tribes. After hearing from members of the public, and the proponent, Council voted against third reading, defeating the application.

Next, Council considered Councillor Douglas’ motion to reinstate public engagement for the Municipal Forest Reserve (MFR). Last summer, Council agreed to pause the public engagement process in order to consult with local First Nations to help us better understand their interests in the activities within the MFR. As we are nearing the final stages in the development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Cowichan Nation, the proposed motion sought to move forward with public engagement, which will be used to inform the technical review of North Cowichan’s forest management practices and provide a recommendation for future forest management. Council defeated the motion at this time, with some councillors expressing a desire to wait until the MOU with Cowichan Nation is finalized and signed.

Council then approved that the following actions be taken prior to finalizing the Climate Action and Energy Plan update: that the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) complete its review of the draft policies and actions and have its recommendations to Council by May 15, that staff conduct a prioritization workshop using multi-criteria analysis process, and that the EAC review the draft report and make recommendations to Council. We can expect to see the draft CAEP update back before Council towards the end of this year.

Our next meeting will take place electronically on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at 1:30 pm.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117