Council Matters for March 16, 2022

Council met for just over eight-and-a-half hours during our Regular Council meeting on March 16, 2022. Here are some highlights from the meeting.

I opted not to share a Mayor’s Report, given the lengthy agenda ahead of us.

Judy Stafford from Cowichan Green Community presented their 2021 year in review. A video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2RUqrrJvD8 ) outlining their 2021 year was available for Council to view ahead of the meeting. Highlights from 2021 include the successful food recovery project with North Cowichan and the Cowichan Valley Regional District, which saw 300,000 pounds of food recovered through the program. CGC works to improve food security by developing local capacity for food production, supporting equitable access, and strengthening the local community's health and resilience through food.

Parcel Tax, Fees & Charges Amendment, and the Sewer and Water Parcel Tax Bylaws were all adopted. These bylaws will establish utility parcel tax rates for 2022.

The Election and Assent Voting Bylaw and Sign Amendment Bylaw each received first three readings. The Election and Assent Voting bylaw includes provisions for mail ballots and special voting opportunities as part of the upcoming Local General Election in October. The Sign Bylaw will remove the $100 security deposit requirement for election advertising and signs.

Due to conflicts with advance voting opportunities, the October 5, 2022 regular Council meeting has been rescheduled to Tuesday, October 4, 2022 and the October 11, 2022 regular Committee of the Whole meeting has been cancelled.

Council discussed potential impacts of new Official Community Plan on how in-stream land use applications may be impacted by the new Official Community Plan.

A lengthy discussion took place around amendments to Draft Official Community Plan. Last month, Council reviewed the draft OCP during two facilitator-led workshops in which numerous considerations to amend wording, intent, and adjusted policy statements within the document were discussed. Councillors then made motions based on these workshops, together with information received through the latest round of public engagement on the draft document, and tonight, these motions were discussed and voted on. These approved amendments will be incorporated into the draft OCP and will be back to Council as part of the draft OCP bylaw in April.

Council also determined the need for more First Nations engagement on the draft OCP, and directed staff to facilitate government-to-government meetings with local First Nations to receive their input. 

A $125,000 grant application in partnership with the Cowichan Valley Regional District for Regional Community Emergency Preparedness Fund to purchase one mobile emergency operations centre (command trailer) was approved. Council also authorized the CVRD to apply for and manage the CEPF grant funds received from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.

North Cowichan volunteers, including committee members, working group members, and parks and recreation volunteers, will be recognized through either a gift card or an event/gathering at the discretion of Committee Chairs and/or Staff Liaison, to a maximum of $25 per volunteer.

The Terms of Reference for the Forestry Advisory Committee was amended to adjust the number of members, and to appoint a new member representing Cowichan Tribes.

Council agreed to contribute $10,000 from the community allocation of the Climate Action Energy Plan reserve fund to the Vancouver Island Coast Economic Developers Association for the Circular Economy Accelerator Program.

The change in the scope of the Crofton Fire Hall Building Replacement Project was approved. The size changes from 2,150 square feet to a 3,636 square foot building with a cost increase from $3.5 million to $4.8 million. The additional size accommodates separated training and paid on-call recreation space.

A long-term borrowing approach was also approved for this project. Staff will proceed with an alternative approval process (AAP) to seek elector approval for the Crofton Fire Hall redevelopment and develop a communications plan for informing residents about the project and the AAP, and will report back to Council with these details.

Council authorized the Mayor to provide a letter of support to the Duncan Curling Club to include with grant applications to aid in securing funds to replace the ice plant and compressor.

Council referred the Khenipsen Gore-Langton Neighbourhood Plan, developed by the Khenipsen Gore-Langton Neighbourhood Planning Committee to the Planning Department for review and possible future inclusion in the Official Community Plan.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 5, at 1:30 p.m. (note the change in day of the week).

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

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