North Cowichan has moved to providing essential services only due to the increasing severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This means the Municipal Hall will remain closed until further notice, and all services non-essential to health and public safety will be unavailable at this time. RCMP, fire, sewer, water, waste-water treatment and curbside collection will continue.
In addition, all regular council and committee of the whole meetings are cancelled until further notice. Council will only hold emergency meetings electronically for the foreseeable future, and all council committees or advisory bodies of council will be suspended indefinitely.
Public engagement, including on the future of the Municipal Forest Reserve and the Official Community Plan, are being paused for 90 days. Staff and council will re-evaluate resuming engagement when if it can proceed in a safe and inclusive way.
“As a local government, North Cowichan has a responsibility to the public and staff to take increasing measures of protection to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” explained Chief Administrative Officer Ted Swabey. “The unprecedented conditions we are facing, and the subsequent decisions have not been made lightly. Staff are committed to supporting residents through continued provision of essential services and will continually evaluate the situation to determine whether an increased level of service is possible through remote-work and other arrangements as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.”
“We are deeply concerned about the effects the COVID-19 crisis could have, including financial and economic implications,” added Mayor Al Siebring. “Consequently, we are delaying finalizing our 2020 tax rates until staff are able to bring forward a report analyzing the impacts shutting our doors will have on the operational and capital budgets, so council can be fully informed and make the best decision for everyone.”
Staff will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.