Council Matters for March 1, 2023

Council met for about two hours and twenty minutes during our Regular Council meeting on March 1, 2023. Here are some highlights from the meeting.

During the Mayor’s Report, I provided updates on the following activities:

  • On February 25, I joined the Coldest Night of the Year walk organized by the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Cowichan Valley Branch, in support of youth experiencing homelessness. Similar walks were organized in communities across Canada. The event saw more than 350 walkers on 60 teams raise more than $82,000 in donations. A big thank you to the many volunteers for this event and to the local businesses that sponsored it.
  • North Cowichan Council recently had a chance to tour the Cowichan Bay Sawmill which is owned by Western Forest Products (WFP). This mill is a significant industrial taxpayer in North Cowichan and an important employer in the region, providing over 100 good-paying jobs. Thanks to the WFP management team for walking us through the facility and explaining the modern equipment and machinery that have been installed in recent years to reduce waste and improve the production process.

Barry O'Riordan, on behalf of Economic Development Cowichan (EDC), delivered a presentation to Council on the state of the Cowichan economy. An update on various strategies and initiatives the EDC is proposing or has underway included the Internet and Cellular Connectivity Strategy; Workforce Housing Strategy; a proposed update to the EDC Strategic Plan (pending CVRD budget approval); business retention, expansion and attraction; and sector development focused on the agriculture, film, and tourism sectors.

The Five Year Financial Plan bylaw was adopted. The plan sets out North Cowichan’s objectives and policies for 2023 to 2027 and includes a property tax increase of 4.82% for 2023. The Sewer and Water Parcel Tax amendment bylaw also was adopted.

The Fees & Charges bylaw was amended. The bylaw establishes fees over multiple years and updating the fees in relation to development permit applications, water, sewer, curbside collection, and wharves.

Council directed the Mayor to write a letter to the Province requesting that the Province, in consultation with affected stakeholders, amend the 1987 Cowichan Estuary Environmental Management Plan to reflect the current scientific knowledge of the role of estuaries in the ecosystem, land ownership and uses, and climate change. The letter will also request support from Cowichan Tribes, Cowichan Valley Regional District, City of Duncan, Cowichan Estuary and Restoration and Conservation Association (CERCA).

Council amended the Council Conference Attendance Policy to enable all members of Council to attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) annual convention.

Council referred a proposal submitted by the Cowichan Trails Stewardship Society to develop Mount Richards for mixed-use outdoor recreation that encompasses cycling, to the Economic Development Committee, and asked the Committee to make a recommendation to Council that considers the economic, social, and environmental impacts that cycling may pose to Mount Richards and other user groups.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 15, at 5pm.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

Rob Douglas, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117