North Cowichan council’s regular Nov. 17 meeting was flooded with comments about the floods in the region.
The huge weather event and flooding experienced Sunday and Monday was the primary focus of Al Siebring’s mayor’s report.
“I want to thank our staff and staff at the CVRD for the work they have been doing, including engineering and operations crews and communications in responding to the flooding,” he noted. “The North Cowichan Fire Department responded to over two dozen calls for help on Monday alone. Our firefighters are paid on-call volunteers, and I also want to acknowledge the businesses that employ our firefighters for their support.
“The largest impacts were felt on the Halalt First Nation and Russell Farm, both adjacent to the Chemainus River, with water overflowing the river banks. In 2020, we sent a letter to the Province urging action on the Chemainus River and warning them that flooding would happen again. The river falls under provincial and federal authority through their various ministries. While some assistance was provided after the last flood event, what we saw this week was a clear illustration that more needs to be done. There used to be regularly scheduled maintenance of the river in days gone by – perhaps it is time to look at something like this again. This is an ongoing issue, with climate change it is not going to get any easier and we need a longer-term solution.”
But compared to the utter destruction seen in other parts of the province, Siebring added we were fortunate it wasn’t worse.
“I want to acknowledge the huge pressure the provincial government will be facing in rebuilding,” he indicated. “This won’t be inexpensive – the cost will be in the billions of dollars. I reached out to Finance Minister Selina Robinson (Wednesday), acknowledging the challenges she and the provincial cabinet will be facing on this. Our thoughts are with our provincial counterparts as they navigate these latest pressures, which come on top of a myriad of other crises including opioids, housing, the summer forest fires and, of course, the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
“I also want to urge our community to not overreact, to be calm and to stand together. There will be supply chain issues, but this is not the time to hoard. We have a good local supply of food. Check on your neighbours and share supplies with them as needed.”
Municipal auditors KPMG presented the Audit Planning Report. The presentation outlined the planned scope and timing for the audit of the municipality’s 2021 year-end consolidated financial statements.
The Fire Protection Amendment Bylaw was adopted. The bylaw updates Sections 39 (vacant buildings), 40 (forest remediation), 63 and 64 (open burning), 67 (wood burning appliances) and 68 (recreational fire pits). The related Municipal Ticket Information Systems Amendment Bylaw was amended to provide fines up to $1,000 for violations to the Fire Protection Bylaw and the Fireworks and the Bylaw Offence Notice Enforcement Amendment Bylaw was adopted.
Purchase of a replacement fire department vehicle was deferred pending a staff report on purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle. That report is expected at the next meeting on December 1.
The now-retired Municipal Coat of Arms sign and related artifacts will be donated to the Chemainus Valley Museum. Council authorized staff to execute the transfer documents that formalize the donation, which will allow these items to be displayed or available to researchers in the future.
Councillor Kate Marsh had given notice on Nov. 3 of a motion to grant up to $82,000 from the Climate Action and Energy Plan Reserve Fund to cover building and development permit fees for Cowichan Green Community’s Food Hub on Beverly Street. The motion was carried.
During the Public Hearing, a Zoning Amendment was granted for 8921 Chemainus Rd. to allow a second residential building on the property.