Council Matters for October 7, 2021

Council met for about three hours during our Special Council meeting on October 7, 2021. Here are some highlights from the meeting:

Council briefly discussed and then adopted amendments to the Council Procedure Bylaw. The amendments will allow North Cowichan to host council and committee meetings by electronic means. During the pandemic, the Province made provisions to allow municipalities to hold meetings electronically and avoid in-person meetings. However that legislation has since expired, hence the required amendment to the procedures bylaw. Electronic meetings provide North Cowichan the ability to continue with important council and committee business during the current public health orders, and going forward, provide flexibility for members of council, staff, consultants, delegations, and the public to attend these meetings electronically.

Council adopted an amended Fire Protection Bylaw. This bylaw updates the responsibilities of fire department personnel, including the Fire Chief, along with the fire department organizational structure, fire inspections, and regulations around fires and open burning.The Delegation of Authority Amendment Bylaw was also adopted. The amendment authorizes the Fire Chief to exercise all the powers of the Fire Commissioner, and also authorizes the establishment of a regular system of fire inspections for public buildings.

The Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw was amended. Fees related to open burning, fire safety plan reviews, fireworks permits, and fire inspections are now included in the fee schedule. Further amendments also waive the cost of name changes for Indigenous peoples when reclaiming their names changed by the residential school system as written on official identity documents.

The Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw was carried and provides a property tax exemption for five properties. These properties include land and improvements at 2359 Calais Road and Wicks Road owned by the Vancouver Island Vipassana Association, all land and improvements at 3776 Gibbins Road owned by the Nature Trust of BC; and a full exemption for improvements leased by Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club and the Cowichan Valley Arts Council (both of these located within the Cowichan Community Centre).

A development variance permit was granted to School District 79 that will allow a reduction in the total number of on-site parking spaces required from 292 to 168 for the Cowichan Secondary School at its new location of 2003 University Way.

Two Temporary Mobile Home Permits were issued for 3974 Sahtlam Road and 6726 Martin Road. Both permits are to accommodate family members living on the properties. Temporary mobile home permits are valid for one year and must be renewed if still required.

The Biodiversity Protection Policy is one step closer with Council directing staff move forward with a request for proposals for Phase One of the process. This first phase will involve an initiation of scope design by Environment staff, workshopping scope concepts and items with Council; and, workshopping and refinement of scope with the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC). Once complete, the process will move to Phase Two, policy development.

A motion by Councillor Douglas that directs staff and MODUS to include discussion of conservation design and site adaptive planning as part of the upcoming Official Community Plan policy workshop was carried. The discussion will explore how these methods can assist the Municipality of North Cowichan in achieving its land use and environmental objectives.

A motion by Councillor Justice that would have directed policy development restricting delegation requests submitted by development applicants was defeated.

A motion by Councillor Marsh to downzone a property at 9090 Trans-Canada Highway from Residential Mobile Home Park Zone (R5) to Rural Restricted Zone (A3) was also defeated.

The next Council meeting is back to our more typical Wednesday schedule and will be on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, at 1:30 p.m.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117