Council Matters for June 1, 2022

Council met for just over four hours during our Regular Council meeting on June 1, 2022. Here are some highlights from the meeting.

During my Acting Mayor’s Report, I noted that Mayor Siebring was not in attendance as he is attending the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference in Regina.

I provided an update about the Cowichan Aquatic Centre’s annual maintenance shutdown taking place in June. The closure begins June 4 and is expected to finish by July 3. Details on the closure schedule including when the two pools and fitness area are open or closed can be found at northcowichan.ca/recreation

I also noted that June is Pride Month and in support of the Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community (LGBTQ2S+) the pride flag is being flown at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre.

Jock Hildebrand of the Cowichan Public Art Gallery Society appeared as a delegation and updated Council on their progress towards building an international-standard art gallery in the Cowichan Valley. A video describing the project and vision for this gallery was shared and can be viewed on their website: https://cowichangallery.ca/

Inspector Chris Bear presented the First Quarter Report for RCMP Activities. Calls for services for this quarter is down 2.3% over the same period in 2021, with 4,650 calls for service. Car 60 patrols will be restarted to support mental health calls. Inspector Bear also shared the Downtown Corridor first quarter report. The 2022-2023 North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Annual Performance Plan was endorsed by Council.

Council discussed a complaint under the Council Standards of Conduct Policy. The complaint was made by Mayor Siebring against Councillor Marsh. (Councillor Marsh recused herself from the meeting for this item.) The policy was developed in order to set behavioural expectations for council members and staff that instill public trust and confidence, and contribute to a respectful workplace, and outlines an open and transparent process to resolve complaints. A third-party investigator reviewed the complaint and made recommendations as outlined in the policy. Council voted to impose the recommendations, which are outlined in the investigator’s report.

A Zoning Amendment Bylaw for 3110 Moorfield Road received first two readings and will now move to public hearing. The bylaw would rezone 3110 Moorfield Road from Residential One and Two-Family Zone (R3) to Residential Two-Family Detached Zone (R3-CH) to permit an accessory dwelling unit (such as a garden suite or coach house) to accommodate a family member.

The draft Official Community Plan is now headed to a public hearing on July 18 (2pm start time, online) and July 19 (2pm start time, in person at Cowichan Exhibition Grounds). A public hearing allows affected citizens to provide their views to their elected representatives on planning and land use bylaws, before Council considers adoption. More information on the process and about the draft OCP can be found online.

North Cowichan’s Biodiversity Protection Policy Project is underway. The contract to develop the policy was awarded to Diamond Head Consulting and includes an enhanced level of engagement with First Nations. Council authorized an increase to the 2022 budget for the Biodiversity Protection Policy Project from $50,000 to $100,000 to fund the $40,000 shortfall and add a $10,000 contingency and amended the Financial Plan Bylaw to include a transfer of $50,000 from the Quamichan Lake Water Quality Reserve Fund and increase the Biodiversity Protection Policy Project expense by $50,000.

Council approved a recommendation to have Councillor Toporowski’s legal fees reimbursed in relation to conflict of interest declaration. The $454.04 in legal fees were incurred as a result of declaring a conflict of interest on matters related to Cowichan Tribes. There is no legislated requirement for an elected official to obtain legal advice on the question of a conflict of interest prior to making their declaration. However, under section 100 of the Community Charter, when an elected official withdraws their declaration of conflict of interest, they may only do so after they have obtained legal advice on the question of conflict and it has been determined that they are entitled to participate in respect to the matter at issue. (Councillor Toporowski recused herself during the discussion on this item.)

Council authorized the chair of the First Nations Relations Committee to sign a letter offering financial support to Halalt First Nations toward their planned National Indigenous Peoples Day 2022 event.

Council accepted the Review of Council Remuneration Report prepared by Sainas Consult Inc. The report found that North Cowichan Council’s remuneration is in line with comparable municipalities.

Council approved Election Cost-Sharing Agreements with School District No. 79 (SD 79) and with the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD). The agreement is for the 2022 school trustee election and for assent voting on changes to the funding of nine ‘regionally significant’ recreation facilities.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 15, at 1:30 p.m.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

Debra Toporowski, Acting Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117
council@northcowichan.ca