Council Matters for April 5 2022

Council Matters for April 5, 2022

Council met for about three hours during our Regular Council meeting on April 5, 2022. Here are some highlights from the meeting.

During my Mayor’s Report, I noted that myself and senior staff met with the Cowichan Housing Association regarding the ongoing issues around funding for Sherman Road and Willow Street housing projects. We agreed that, if it becomes necessary to do so, we would ask for the CHA to allocate all the funding toward the Sherman Road project rather than splitting the allocation between the two sites.

During my report I indicated that we are awaiting the final, official word from the Province regarding the deferral of downloaded 9-1-1 dispatch charges North Cowichan and seven other Vancouver Island jurisdictions would be required to fund, and this was confirmed in an email by the end of the meeting. In December, North Cowichan sent a letter to Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General asking that he look into this issue that would see municipalities cover the $3.59 million cost that has been previously covered by provincial and federal budgets. The email from the Executive Director of Finance in the Policing and Security Branch confirmed that funding for this function has now been secured from Treasury Board to cover these costs until March 31, 2025.

For the first time in over two years, myself and Councillors Sawrie, Justice, and Manhas attended an in-person conference. The Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) annual conference was held in Victoria on April 1 to 3. One interesting topic is a proposed rewrite of Local Government Act, mostly to support the needs of Regional Districts. But as I told Council, I believe there are implications for municipalities as well which will require close scrutiny as this rewrite is rolled out in the next year.

While the conference was underway, I got a call from a friend who is currently in Odessa, Ukraine. He asked if North Cowichan could help supply the Odessa fire department with any surplus equipment, and I took the opportunity to share this plea with my conference colleagues. Several Vancouver Island municipalities and others from elsewhere in B.C. offered to help. Used and surplus equipment will be shipped to Poland where it will be loaded into cargo vans and distributed to where it is needed in Ukraine.

The Election and Assent Voting and Sign Amendment Bylaws were adopted. The election bylaw modernizes the voting process and will add in provisions for mail-in ballots and special voting opportunities for people in long-term care. The sign bylaw removes the $100 security deposit requirement for election advertising and signs.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw for 1379 Maple Bay Road was adopted. This bylaw permits the use of an existing cabin as a detached second dwelling on the property.

Another Zoning Amendment Bylaw for a second dwelling at 934 Khenipsen Road received second reading and will now go to a public hearing. This zoning amendment would permit the use of a converted accessory building as a second dwelling had been discussed in 2020 and was brought forward following additional information submitted by the applicant.

The 2022-2026 Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw received first three readings. This bylaw includes additional projects and initiatives previously authorized by Council. The public is now invited to submit their comments on the plan in writing to the Corporate Officer by 1 p.m. on April 22.

Council gave three readings to the Crofton Fire Hall Loan Authorization Bylaw which will authorize the long-term capital borrowing for the Crofton Fire Hall upgrade project. The bylaw and supporting documents will now be sent to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for review and approval. If approved by the Province, North Cowichan will proceed with an Alternative Approval Process to seek elector approval for the borrowing.

Council also approved the communications and engagement strategy for the Crofton Fire Hall Redevelopment Project. The plan describes how North Cowichan will ensure the public will be informed about the project, the capital borrowing, and how to have a say in that process. A project page is now live and will be updated once details of elector approval are received by the Province.

Council considered an update to the Terms of Reference for the Climate Action and Energy Plan Reserve Fund. Staff were asked to provide more clarity around an overall statement of purpose for the use of CAEP funds that links them to the plan. Staff were also asked to consider the implications of replacing the fixed corporate and community emissions distribution with other criteria that prioritize consistency with the CAEP.

As well, up to $50,000 from the CAEP reserve fund be used to conduct an emissions study on the new Crofton Fire Hall, and to convert small outdoor equipment from internal combustion engines to electric.

Tender packages for the new North Cowichan Civic Building (RCMP building) were awarded. Architectural woodwork was awarded to Milltech Millwork, acoustical and suspended ceilings was awarded to Dryco Systems Inc., and landscaping and irrigation was awarded to Milestone Equipment Contracting Inc. The building is still on schedule and under budget.

Council endorsed the 2022 Environmental Advisory Committee work plan.

An amendment to the Draft Official Community Plan was approved. Section 10.4 has added visual objectives and development guidelines related to Visually Prominent Slopes; Section 3.5 be reamed from “Local Area Planning” to “Community Character and Local Area Planning”; and includes new wording that addresses visually prominent slopes and ridgelines that preserve the integrity and character of these features.

Council directed the Mayor to write a letter in support of MP Gord Johns’ (Courtenay-Alberni) Bill C-216 - Health-based Approach to Substance Use Act that aims to decriminalize drug possession for personal use and expand access to harm reduction, treatment and recovery services.

A Cowichan Climate Hub letter requesting Council prioritize the reduction of GHG emissions as a requirement of new construction was referred to the Environmental Advisory Committee.

Council endorsed a motion from the City of Victoria and City of Kamloops regarding a federal Guaranteed Annual Income. Our endorsement of the resolution, which was already adopted at the AVICC convention, will be added for debate at the upcoming UBCM convention in September. 

The next Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 20, at 1:30 p.m.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117