Council Matters for August 17, 2022

Council met for about five hours in total during our Regular Council meeting and Public Hearing on August 17, 2022. Here are some highlights from the meetings.

During my Mayor’s Report, I shared that we continue to work to support tenants impacted by pending eviction at the Magdalena apartment building. This building, constructed in 2019, has significant deficiencies and requires engineered repairs in order to bring the building up to code. (Temporary shoring has been done so the building is safe for people to live in now). This work can’t be done with tenants in the building, so the people currently living there will be given eviction notices and required to move out. The developer, West Urban, has filed an “Application for Vacant Possession for Renovation or Repair” in order to do the remediation work. A formal hearing is now scheduled in December or January, and tenants will then be given four months’ notice, so it will be likely be April at the earliest before people will be required to move. Even with this additional notice, with our rental vacancy rate under one per cent, this is an emergency so I have reached out to Minister of Housing David Eby to request a meeting and ask for support for these tenants. We are also working closely with Cowichan Housing Association. I will keep council apprised of any developments.

Mr. Nicolas Schwetz shared a presentation about municipal road allowances along Stoney Hill Road and issues with development that precludes the public's ability to access the foreshore via these allowances. Staff will provide a report to Council in response to his questions.

Mr. Rick Martinson of the Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society presented a report on how it spends its annual contract funding, the outcomes/results/benefits of CTSS' work and the extent of recreational usage of the municipal forest reserve. Mt Prevost has been CTSS’s focus. World cup downhill rider Mark Wallace grew up riding on Mt Prevost. Trail sanctioning is underway, which will hopefully happen later this fall. Trail building is designed to go beyond the two common best practices (Whistler and World) and a new, even higher standard is being developed. It will be called the “Prevost Protocol”, and will include considerable attention to water runoff, use of local materials and plants, and impact to the local environment. Recent mountain bike facilities in Langford and Nanaimo mean Vancouver Island is quickly becoming the destination for mountain biking in Canada.

Ms. Sarah Lam of Forum Research Inc. presented the findings of the 2022 Citizen Satisfaction Survey. The survey is the second one conducted by the municipality, and builds on the results of the first survey done in 2019. Results are statistically valid and were conducted primarily by phone in June. Overall, residents rated 95% positively on quality of life and 89% satisfied with the overall level and quality of North Cowichan’s municipal services, with fire protection and recreational & sports facilities rated the highest. The full report can be read at northcowichan.ca.

The Official Community Plan bylaw was approved. The development of the plan took three years and was supported by an advisory committee made up of local residents, plus community ambassador teams that provided input and feedback over four phases. Residents took part through surveys, workshops, community dialogues, stakeholder engagement, and webinars, which was followed by inter-governmental referrals to neighbouring and senior government agencies, local First Nations, School District 79, and the Agricultural Land Commission. The new OCP takes immediate effect and replaces the previous OCP adopted in 2011.

A Zoning Amendment Bylaw (No. 3873) was adopted. This is an administrative change that harmonizes the documents to ensure the continued orderly administration of Development Permit applications as part of the new Official Community Plan.

Public hearings will be scheduled following second reading for Zoning Amendment Bylaws for two developments. The first is for several residential buildings on Paddle Road, and the other for a four-plex at 3181 and 3183 Gibbins Road. These public hearings will be scheduled in the coming months.

A Zoning Bylaw Amendment application was given first two readings for cannabis retail sales at Berkey’s Corner Shopping Centre. The applicant will conduct an information meeting prior to the scheduling of a public hearing and consideration of third reading at a later date.

The Waterworks Amendment Bylaw received first three readings. This bylaw will outline watering and sprinkling regulations, and will bring North Cowichan’s staged water restrictions into line with the Cowichan Valley Regional District and neighbouring municipalities and waterworks providers.

Council approved a $3,000 grant-in-aid to the M’akola Housing Society in support of the 2022 Every Child Matters March to commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, 2022. Council provided a similar grant in 2021 during the first year of the event.

A Development Variance Permit was authorized for 6824 Stoney Hill Road for the construction of a single-family dwelling with a reduced setback from a watercourse from 15 metres to 4 metres.

A Temporary Mobile Home Permit was reauthorized for 7042 Norcross Road. The existing temporary mobile home on the property provides care of a sick or elderly person.

Tender Package 5 -- C-040 Furniture – was awarded to Graphic Office Interiors for $608,772.05 plus GST for the North Cowichan Civic Building/new RCMP building. This is the last of the major contracts for this new RCMP facility, and Council was told that the project is still within its original budget. 

Council approved 2023-2027 budgets for Cowichan Aquatic Centre, Fuller Lake Arena and Cowichan Sportsplex should the Regional Recreation assent voting opportunity (referendum) be successful, and provided direction regarding alternatives should the assent voting opportunity be unsuccessful. The referendum seeks to align local government funding with the residency of facility users, and would mean that North Cowichan residents’ funding for the Cowichan Aquatic Centre would decrease from approximately $2.37 million to $1.44 million. For Fuller Lake Arena, it would decrease from $0.69 million to $0.36 million. For Cowichan Lake Sports Arena, funding would increase from no contribution to $0.41 million. Taking in all changes in funding for all nine regionally significant facilities, North Cowichan’s funding for recreation facilities would decrease by $0.71 million or 11.2% overall.

Council also determined that for budgeting purposes, a two-tiered (resident/non-resident) fee schedule will be considered if the referendum is not successful.

Council authorized an extension to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Strengthening Communities Grant for the Village project. The grants funds Cowichan Housing Association’s Village project.

Council approved an amendment to the Forestry Advisory Committee’s Terms of Reference, and appointed Ghislaine (Jessie) Fraser to the Forestry Advisory Committee as the Cowichan Trails Stewardship Society representative, replacing Vicki Holman, for the balance of the term ending October 31, 2022.

A motion by Councillor Justice to reimbursement Councillor Marsh’s reduction in compensation that resulted from the breach of Standards of Conduct Policy was not successful.

Councillor Marsh was authorized to attend the 2022 Zero Waste Conference in September.

Two items were heard during the public hearing portion of the meeting. Following the public hearing, both items were given third reading:

  • A Zoning Amendment Bylaw for 1234 Viewtop Road to permit a maximum of 15% of the total dwelling units to be in the form of a two-family dwelling (duplex).
  • A Zoning Amendment Bylaw which proposes to amend the permitted densities within the A-1, A-2, A-3 and A-5 zones to accommodate various forms of accessory dwelling units on parcels 2ha or greater.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 7, at 1:30 p.m.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117
Mayor@northcowichan.ca