North Cowichan council took decisive action on a long-standing issue with an accessory building at 9384 Cottonwood Road in Chemainus.
Council received an extensive presentation that took up considerable time in the five-hourr meeting from bylaw staff, the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP, and Island Health, regarding remedial action under three sections of the Community Charter.
“This accessory building has been the subject of a great many bylaw, RCMP, and health violations over more than 10 years regarding unlawful habitation of the accessory building, which was not built to meet human health and safety requirements,” noted Mayor Al Siebring. “Despite great effort, staff, RCMP, and Island Health have not been able to obtain voluntary compliance from the property owner to address these concerns over the last 10 years.”
Council then decided to: 1) declare the accessory building a nuisance; 2) require the owner to demolish the accessory building and remove the resulting debris within 30 days of receiving a notice; 3) provide notice of these decisions to the owner; 4) inform the owner that they may request council reconsideration within 14 days of receiving notice; and 5) if required actions are not completed by the owner within the required time frames, North Cowichan may undertake the required actions and recover the costs of doing so from the owner.
Council then received a supplementary report and presentation from NRG Research Group on the recently-completed Citizen Satisfaction Survey. The report provided more details on various aspects of the survey that were of interest to council.
Overall, the survey found 97 per cent of residents rate the overall quality of life in North Cowichan as good or very good, 89 per cent of residents are satisfied with the overall level and quality of services provided by North Cowichan, and four in five residents feel they get good value for their tax dollars.
Council heard from three delegations, including Jock Hildebrand, who presented the concept of building a contemporary, purpose-built gallery to serve the needs of the Cowichan Valley and Vancouver Island.
Brad Grigor did a presentation on the benefits provided by the Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society and delivered an update on initiatives to develop a regional arts centre in North Cowichan.
Bill Routley made a presentation on Chemainus River Campground’s request for assistance from North Cowichan to pursue an Agricultural Land Reserve exclusion application.
Council passed a motion directing staff to initiate an exclusion application for the property, to authorize the mayor to write to provincial ministers in support of the exclusion application, and to try to arrange meetings with provincial representatives at the Union of BC Municipalities conference later in September.
Council next considered a staff report in response to concerns from a member of the local agricultural community about building setback requirements on agricultural lands. In general, North Cowichan’s regulations for setback requirements on agricultural lands are more restrictive than best practices set by the Ministry of Agriculture and relative to neighbouring jurisdictions.
In response, council passed a motion asking staff to prepare a zoning amendment bylaw to reduce front, rear and side yard setbacks for ‘all other principle buildings, ’ as detailed in the staff report.
The next council meeting is Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 1:30 p.m.