Council Matters for May 17, 2023

Council met for just under two hours during our Regular Council meeting on May 17, 2023. Here are some highlights from the meeting.

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

  • Councillors Caljouw, Findlay and I were recently given a tour of Wildwood, a 33.5-hectare (83-acre) forest located in the Yellow Point/Cedar area. Wildwood was originally established in the 1930s by Merv Wilkinson, who managed the site for decades using selective logging practices. Today Wildwood is owned and managed by the Ecoforestry Institute Society, who have continued Merv’s legacy. Thanks to the Ecoforestry Institute Society’s Board and staff for providing us with an overview of this forest management model.
  • Earlier this month, municipal staff joined me for a meeting with residents at one of the apartment buildings near the Warmland House Shelter and the Overdose Prevention Site, where we are facing major challenges related to homelessness, mental health, addictions, and street disorder. Listening to these residents describe how they are feeling increasingly unsafe in their neighbourhood underscored the need for us to carefully consider all options in tackling these problems, whether that involves tools within our jurisdiction as a municipality or in intensifying our advocacy to the senior levels of government.
  • Last week I met with Dr. Shannon Waters, Island Health’s Medical Health Officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, to discuss the mental health and addictions services currently available in the Cowichan region, where the gaps exist, and how North Cowichan can work with Island Health to ensure we have the appropriate resources available for those who need them most - whether that’s more frontline workers and public health outreach, increasing the number of detox beds, or opening new recovery centres and mental health facilities.

Cynthia Montgomery of the Quamichan Lake Neighbourhood Association gave a presentation about the benefits of enacting a tree canopy bylaw in North Cowichan.

A Temporary Use Permit for 1444 Maple Bay Road was approved. The permit will allow Kale Media Inc. to film a television series during the second half of August.

The Use of Gender-Neutral Language and Pronouns Policy was adopted. The policy promotes gender equality by communicating in a gender-neutral way. The policy applies to writing in bylaws, policies, reports, website and social media content, and other written communications.

Council endorsed a Notice of Motion regarding the Ecological Impacts of Trails, which will involve supplementing the Biodiversity Protection Policy that is currently being developed, by assessing the potential ecological risks and impacts of various trails and trail use; developing general criteria and guidance for recreation and trail planning and management in our forest areas; identifying where trails and specific recreational uses are appropriate given ecological sensitivities; and identifying needed mitigations to existing trails, if and where necessary.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 7, at 5pm.

Thank you for reading and staying informed!

Rob Douglas, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117