North Cowichan council held its first meeting of 2021 on Jan. 20.

Firearms Discharge Bylaw amendments put on the backburner

Forestry review still needs to be completed before staff makes a recommendation to council

Council met for about two and a half hours Jan. 20 in its first regular meeting of the new year.

Council adopted an amendment to the Animal Responsibility Bylaw to add seasonal, off-leash access for dogs to foreshore areas in North Cowichan, at the Pender Road stairs, Crofton Beach Park and Cook Street to Vista Grande.

Access is being granted now on a trial basis, excluding June 16 to Sept. 30, for the three locations.

Council then gave first two readings to a proposed amendment to the Zoning Bylaw to allow construction of a detached second dwelling at 9376 Cottonwood Rd. in Chemainus. Staff determined the zoning amendment was largely compliant with the existing (2011) Official Community Plan and other relevant municipal policies. Owners and occupants of neighbouring properties will be able to provide input on the proposed amendment when it proceeds to a public hearing.

Council awarded the construction tenders from Tender Package 1 for the new RCMP facility to be located at the corner of Drinkwater and Ford Roads. This tender package included eight separate tenders for various aspects of the superstructure components, four of which required council’s approval.

The Cowichan Aquatic Centre’s roof has been deemed to be reaching the end of its useful life. In the November 2017 Conditions Report, it was recommended the roof be replaced within five years. As a result, the project was placed into the Capital Budget Plan with funding slated to come from a combination of general revenues and facility reserve funds.

In December 2020, staff recognized this project could be eligible for support through a provincial and federal government partnership program called the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream program, which is part of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

Staff was authorized to apply for CVRIS-ICP funding in the amount of $1,653,744 (plus GST) which would cover all of the project’s proposed costs. If North Cowichan is unsuccessful in its grant application, a review of the 2021-2025 capital project list will be required to modify the timing and prioritization of projects to ensure the roof replacement occurs no later than 2022.

In 2019, Council directed staff to pause engagement on proposed amendments to the Firearms Discharge Bylaw until January 2021. The intent was to allow the forestry review to be completed during this time so any relevant outcomes could be included in the proposed bylaw amendments before seeking public input. However, the forestry review is not yet complete. Along with the community engagement on the highest and best use of the Municipal Forest Reserve, it is now suspended to facilitate government-to-government consultation with local First Nations. Council directed staff to continue the pause in engagement on the bylaw until the forestry review is completed. At that time, staff will prepare a report to the Forestry Advisory Committee requesting it provide a recommendation to council on the proposed amendments based upon the outcome of the Forestry Review.

The 12 community members appointed to the re-instated Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) were announced and council agreed to amend the committee’s Terms of Reference to increase membership from nine to 12. The committee members are: Sandy McPherson, Neil Anderson, David Coulson, Cameron Campbell, Dr. Zoe Dalton, Dr. Shannon Waters, Ashley Muckle, Bruce Coates, Per Dahlstrom, Dr. Jana Kotaska, Dr. Jesse Patterson and Dr. Geoffrey Strong.

Council approved the 2021 grant-in-aid amounts, per the January 12 Committee of the Whole recommendation.

Under new business, council authorized Mayor Al Siebring to write a letter to Premier John Horgan and Island Health encouraging them to explore alternative locations for the Wellness and Recovery Centre to be located at 5878 York Rd.

“Our council is very much alive to the fact that this type of service is needed in our community and asked that I convey the urgency of opening a Wellness and Recovery Centre in the Cowichan Valley,” noted Siebring. “However, they also wanted to ensure that both Premier Horgan and Island Health are aware of the community concerns we’ve been hearing regarding this location.”

The next meeting will take place electronically on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 1:30 p.m.

Municipal Government

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