Council Matters for May 4, 2022

Council Matters for May 4, 2022

Council met for about three hours during our Regular Council meeting on May 4, 2022. Here are some highlights from the meeting.

During my Mayor’s Report, I shared that Councillor Manhas and myself attended a recent Duncan Chamber of commerce speaker series featuring Larry Stevenson, CEO of Island Corridor Foundation. Mr. Stevenson shared that a recent federal court ruling provides a deadline of March 2023 to resolve issues around federal support to reopen the rail corridor that runs from Victoria to Courtenay.

Last Thursday, I attended a National Volunteer Week recognition event for Community Policing at the Beverley St. office.  Among other things, I learned that the Chemainus Community Policing office will now be open three days a week – they were having some issues finding staff, but have now filled the position. The office is located in the former Chamber of Commerce office, downstairs of the Visitor Centre. 

Later that day, I also attended the Chemainus Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, and I presented an update on several important North Cowichan issues, along with sharing the good news about the Community Policing office.

Our meeting was briefly interrupted just before 2pm with a planned test of Alert Ready, the Canada-wide emergency alert system. The alert is sent through all major television and radio broadcasters, as well as compatible wireless devices. North Cowichan and the CVRD use Alertable, a subscription-based alert system that can be used to relay important information about roads, water, or local emergencies such as flooding. (The test alert that occurred during our meeting does not require a subscription and is meant for larger scale emergencies.)

Councillor Toporowski read a statement to formally withdraw her previous declarations of conflict of interest in regards to matters involving Cowichan Tribes. This declaration had been in place since January 16, 2019.  It covered the time she was a member of Cowichan Tribes Council, but since she was not re-elected to that position, she has obtained a legal opinion that the conflict no longer exists.

Daniel Healey and Cameron Rice-Gural of KPMG presented the 2021 Audited Financial Statements. The presentation included findings of its audit and significant accounting policies and practices. The financial statements will be published in the 2021 Annual Report, scheduled to be received by Council on June 15, 2022.

The Five-Year Financial Plan was amended and the Tax Rates Bylaw was adopted. The 2022 residential tax rate is now set at $2.577 per $1000 of assessment, which is an increase of 2.89% for the average residential home.

The Waterworks Bylaw amendment received first three readings and will return for final reading on May 18. The bylaw includes changes to help reduce water consumption during times of peak usage to help protect water supplies, extend the capacity of the Municipality’s water distribution infrastructure, and to ensure that North Cowichan’s annual water restrictions are consistent with neighboring jurisdictions and water utilities throughout the Cowichan region. The proposed changes include a new Stage 4, which was needed last summer when the Province enacted its highest drought response level.

The Official Community Plan (OCP) Bylaw next steps and public hearing options moved forward with referral to the Agricultural Land Commission for comment as required by the Local Government Act. Staff are also preparing a report on options to hold the public hearing that consider a location of suitable size, availability, and with adequate audio-visual amenities.

Council authorized that, in partnership with the City of Duncan, a request for proposals to extend the Security Ambassadors program for another two-year period for the Safer Community Plan initiative. They also authorized a contribution of up to $15,000 to be paid to the City of Duncan to fund 50% of the additional costs for the enhanced Peer Sharps Clean-Up Crew Program in partnership with the City of Duncan and the Canadian Mental Health Association. Staff will continue discussions with the City of Duncan on the potential for ongoing partnerships relative to the Corridor Safety Plan.

A contribution of $5,000 to Cowichan Tribes to support a planned National Indigenous Peoples Day event was approved. The day is celebrated on June 21.

Council received information from Fondation Émergence regarding International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia requesting Council raise the pride flag in support of the upcoming day on May 17. Council amended the Flag Policy in order to include this observance.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 18, at 1:30 p.m.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117