A delegation of Florie Varga, Jas Doman, Will Arnold, and Ruth Hartmann of a Voice for Our Children addressed North Cowichan council during its regular meeting Dec. 16 with concerns about the proposed Wellness and Recovery Centre at 5878 York Rd. in Duncan.
“This group was activated to advocate against the location of the proposed wellness centre,” pointed Out Councillor Tek Manhas, the deputy mayor who chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Al Siebring. “They expressed their position that the York Road location is unsuitable due to its immediate proximity to four community schools and multiple recreational facilities which disproportionately impacts our community’s youth.”
Council will discuss the delegation’s proposed recommended motion asking North Cowichan to communicate to Island Health and Premier John Horgan that it does not support the 5878 location of the Wellness and Recovery Centre at a future meeting.
Council adopted the Nuisance Abatement and Cost Recovery Bylaw and gave the first three readings to subsequent amendments to the Fees and Charges and Municipal Ticket Information System Bylaws. These amendments will allow the Nuisance Abatement and Cost Recover Bylaw and/or the Controlled Substance Bylaw to be enforced by municipal ticket and for fees to be established for remedial work completed by North Cowichan.
Council then amended the Animal Responsibility Bylaw to add increased seasonal off-leash access for dogs to select foreshore areas in North Cowichan, at the following locations: Pender Road stairs; Crofton Beach Park foreshore and Cook Street to Vista Grande foreshore.
Access will be granted on a trial basis beginning January 1, 2021, excluding June 16 to September 30 for these three new locations.
”On site, expect to see clear signage on where on/off leash areas for dogs are,” Manhas indicated. “An informational campaign will be carried out that highlights the new areas, expected dog owner behaviour, along with available dog services at each location.”
Staff will report back to council before Nov. 30, 2021, detailing how the trial access turns out so council can contemplate if the increased foreshore access should become permanent.
Council received an update on the Official Community Plan engagement to date and the next steps. Since June, the community has been engaged through a Visions and Goals Survey and an interactive photo-based Community Character Survey, in alignment with the consultant’s engagement plan.
Council affirmed a list of inter-governmental organizations and a plan to consult with local governments, First Nations, boards of education and the provincial and federal governments and their agencies. Inter-governmental consultation is a requirement of the Local Government Act, and staff’s proposed plan satisfies that requirement.
Council revisited a motion that was introduced at the Dec. 2 council meeting and subsequently deferred until after staff brought forward its annual business plans. The motion, as introduced, directs staff to work with the Cowichan Housing Association to develop an affordable housing policy and implementation strategy. After some discussion, council decided to refer the motion to staff to bring back a report on the proposed policy and implementation strategy.
In response to correspondence received regarding parking issues at the Kaspa Road trailhead at Mount Tzouhalem, council directed staff to provide a report exploring short and long-term solutions to mitigate the traffic and parking challenges for consideration.
Finally, council adopted eight recommendations from the Dec. 15 Committee of the Whole budget meeting, including authorizing the Forest Reserve Fund to be used to cover the 2021 operating budget deficit for the forestry department while the forestry review, public engagement and First Nations consultation are ongoing, approving the Capital Expenditure Program as presented and approving, in principle, the 2021 Operating Budget subject to a maximum 2.31 per cent net tax increase.
Council directed staff to include the new positions in the 2021 budget, effective Jan. 1, for an assistant fire chief, planning manager and engineering tech – environmental.
Staff was also directed to add the following supplemental items to the 2021 budget: 10-year Capital Plan; Subdivision Bylaw update; CAEP implementation; Somenos Creek/Lake Management Plan; Chemainus River Watershed Management Plan and Biodiversity Protection Policy.
Council decided to cancel the first meeting in January due to a conflict with the Cowichan Valley Regional District meeting schedule. The next meeting will take place electronically on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 at 1:30 p.m.