Council Matters for February 2, 2022

Council met for three-and-a-half hours during our Regular Council meeting on February 2, 2022. Here are some highlights from the meeting:

During my Mayor’s Report, I shared the recent news that Catalyst Paper’s mill in Crofton will receive $5.85 million from the province’s CleanBC Industry Fund to improve the efficiency of its evaporation process and reduce natural gas use, which will reduce the mill’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is great news for Paper Excellence’s mill, and for area residents who can look forward to improved air quality. We have one of the highest rates of COPD in the region, and while that can’t be attributed exclusively to the mill, these emission improvements will hopefully be a benefit for those with lung disease and breathing issues.

Last month, I participated in a conference call with a number of other mayors of communities that have pulp and paper mills. The discussion centered on the current fibre shortage issue facing those mills, and the need to work with the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development on this issue. I expect the industry will be asking for provincial funding support on that, and this approval of more than $26 million dollars through this CleanBC Industry Fund (Crofton’s $5.85 million was part of that), and I interpret this funding as a signal that the province is committed to continuing support for the pulp and paper sector in the long term.

I also touched on my announcement last week that I will not be seeking reelection in October. This was a personal decision, and a difficult one. I thanked Council, staff, and the community for the very kind words I have heard since making my announcement. I also want to assure everyone that I will continue to work diligently for the rest of my term. We have a number of items before us that will take energy and focus, and I am hopeful we can all stay on task as we seek to do the work of the Municipality in a way that serves the interests of everyone in our community.

A Zoning Amendment Bylaw for 8921 Chemainus Road was adopted. The amendment will permit a second detached dwelling unit in addition to a principal single-family dwelling.

The Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw received second and third readings. The amendment will allow an increase to the waste collection fee for 2022 and remove the fire inspection fees until the pre-requisites for the fire safety inspection program have been implemented.

The Five Year Financial Plan Bylaw also received first three readings. The plan sets out the Municipality’s financial objectives and policies for the period from 2022 to 2026.

A Development Permit for a 66-unit rental apartment building on Skinner Road was approved.

A $500,000 grant donation from Anya’s Journey Foundation was accepted for an all-ages accessible playground at Fuller Lake Park. Anya’s Journey Foundation is a local not-for-profit society named for 13-year-old Anya, who was diagnosed in June 2020 with Lamb-Shaffer Syndrome, an extremely rare genetic disorder.

Council supported a regional application with Cowichan Valley Regional District for 2022 UBCM Community Emergency Preparedness Grant to purchase two towable generators and supplies to support multiple emergency reception centre sites.

Planning staff and MODUS Planning, Design & Engagement consultants presented the Draft Official Community Plan (OCP) public consultation results. Public consultation on the draft OCP took place in November and December and involved citizen feedback, as well as what was heard from stakeholders, and other government organizations. Council directed staff to plan an OCP Workshop at a Special Committee of the Whole meeting on February 15, where feedback can be discussed with the assistance of a facilitator.

The Municipality of North Cowichan will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2023. Council supported a motion to have staff appoint members of the community who represent arts, culture, history, and Indigenous peoples to a working group to begin work on identifying grant opportunities that would support community celebrations, arts and culture activities, and legacy projects.

Councillor Sawrie and I were appointed to attend an informal meeting with the City of Duncan regarding the Safer Community Plan Review and Next Steps, and to look at proposed recommendations to address the ongoing community issues in the highway corridor.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 16, at 1:30 p.m.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117