Dealing with the Crofton Fire Hall was high on the priority list when North Cowichan council met for about three and a half hours Nov. 18.
Due to the age and poor condition of the Crofton Fire Hall, council considered a long-term solution for upgrading or replacing the hall, built in 1964.
In 2018, a facility condition assessment was completed which advised $1.25 million in repairs and upgrades would be needed within the next 10 years.
A seismic assessment was completed in 2019 and recommended $90,000 of upgrades. Additionally, the second floor addition, which was built without permits, was found to have insufficient load carrying capacity and was closed in 2019.
As a result, the Crofton Fire Hall has been without an assembly space for practices and training since August 2019. Council directed staff to include $3.5 million in the 2021-2025 Financial Plan for upgrades to the Crofton Fire Hall for demolition of the original 1964 building to replace it with a smaller 2,150 (gross) square foot addition and associated upgrades to the truck bays built in 2002.
Funding will need to be sought through elector assent and is proposed to be done through an Alternative Approval Process like the RCMP facility.
Heather Pritchard and Elodie Roger from the Somenos Marsh Society Council were the first of three delegations council heard from and they spoke about the importance of riparian area protection in the Somenos watershed – especially in the context of the Official Community Plan Update. Council decided to have the Somenos Marsh Society’s presentation sent to the Environmental Advisory Committee, once operational, and to MODUS, the consultants for the OCP project.
Cody Wicks spoke to council regarding the Regenerative Land Stewards’ request to utilize public land on a long-term basis in support of its collective farming idea to create value in agriculture, ecology, affordable housing, sustainable development and more.
Insp. Chris Bear presented the third quarter report for the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP, covering the period from July to October, 2020. He reported there were 5,424 calls for service during that time, down 12 per cent from the same period in 2019.
At the same time, there were 38 mental health apprehensions in North Cowichan and the detachment saw a large increase for well-being checks. Due to the pandemic, fewer summer festivals and gatherings were held that would have required calls for police service, however, summer was busy at the detachment as RCMP training and staffing actions resumed.
Bear added the Cowichan Valley Regional District has issued an expression of interest for community policing services. Historically, the Cowichan Community Policing Advisory Services Society has delivered this service, but the society has now dissolved. Community policing services include: educational programs, events and activities to reduce crime in communities; collaboration with individuals, groups, businesses and the detachment to build awareness; and more.
Council adopted the Temporary Borrowing Bylaw for the new RCMP facility that allows North Cowichan to borrow funds as needed, as opposed to taking on the full debt load and paying interest on the total amount now.
Council considered the Terms of Reference for the Environmental Advisory Committee which is to be re-enacted. The draft terms can be found in the addendum agenda. After some discussion, council approved the terms of reference, making one small change under membership.
Coun. Kate Marsh has been appointed chair of the Environmental Advisory Committee and staff was directed to advertise for volunteers and bring back a report for potential appointments in January 2021.
The next meeting takes place electronically on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 1:30 p.m.