North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring has announced the municipality will receive $4.4 million from the province to help cover costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring has announced the municipality will receive $4.4 million from the province to help cover costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)

North Cowichan to receive $4.4 million from the province for pandemic relief

Funding to come from COVID-19 Safe Restart Program for local governments

The Municipality of North Cowichan will receive $4.4 million from the province to help offset costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Al Siebring said is his mayor’s report at the council meeting on Nov. 4 that the funding is coming from the COVID-19 Safe Restart Program for local governments, which is being administered by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

He said it’s meant to help North Cowichan cover its increased operating costs and decreased revenue that the municipality has experienced due to the pandemic, which has severely impacted the region beginning in March.

NORTH COWICHAN RESPONDS TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC

“One significant example of how we could consider using some of this funding is to offset the decreased revenue from the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, which saw a decrease in revenue of $1.1 million [due to the pandemic],” Siebring said.

“I’d rather do that than increase taxes in 2021 to cover that shortfall.”

Siebring said the additional costs to North Cowichan related to the pandemic will be identified in next year’s budget.

He said municipal staff will be working with the ministry in the coming weeks to determine exactly what the funding can be used for.

“I hope it includes such services as bylaw enforcement, police and fire costs, service for vulnerable people and virtual communications,” Siebring said.

“The devil is in the details, but I hope it lowers our [projected] tax increase for 2021, and even in 2022 if we can carry it forward.”

North Cowichan CAO Ted Swabey confirmed that staff are anticipating a large tax increase next year, and also concluded that the funding could provide options to lessen the increase.

The municipality significantly reduced its planned tax increase in 2020 from 4.4 per cent to 1.4 per cent due to the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to reduce the tax burden on residents during the uncertain financial times.

Finance director Mark Frame said at the time that if council chooses to return to more sustainable tax and service levels next year after significantly reducing its planned tax increase in 2020, taxpayers in the municipality could see a tax increase of more than seven per cent in 2021.

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN TAXPAYERS COULD FACE BIG TAX HIKE IN 2021

He said if council chooses the option of a one-time big tax hike of 7.2 per cent in 2021, the tax rates over the next few years would be close to the projections in the original five year financial plan, and see the proposed tax increase in 2022 at about 3.4 per cent, 4.1 per cent in 2023 and three per cent in 2024.

But Frame said that if council asks for another fiscally restrained budget in 2021, the tax increase could be about five per cent next year, and some previously scheduled capital works projects would have to be deferred.

As well, Frame said that could lead to five per cent tax increases again in 2022 and 2023 before returning to three per cent in 2024.

“This option would provide more immediate affordability for taxpayers, but it would come with reduced service levels and may also help slow the recovery of the local economy,” Frame said at the time.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

COVID-19 has made the 2020-21 school year at Chemainus Secondary School interesting and challenging for graduates. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Secondary School 2021 graduates

Here’s the young men and women who are embarking on life’s next journey

Girls just wanna have fun. From left: Danielle Dela Cruz, Melanie Cheng, Hanna Starkie, Camille Storteboom, Rebecca Rhode, Sian Diewert and Brianne Pamminger at the Crofton seawalk. (Photo by Alana Starkie)
Prom night brings some semblance of normalcy for 2021 Chemainus grads

Being together at least provides class members with some comfort

Tom Millard served his community well for so many years with the Chemainus Fire Department. (Photo submitted)
Millard dedicated himself to community service

Long-time Chemainus Fire Department member and chief remembered for his commitment

Chemainus Indigenous Peoples Weekend organizer Connie Crocker. (Photo submitted)
Chemainus Indigenous Peoples Weekend online June 19-21

Event’s been in the planning stages since February without knowing COVID implications

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

John Kromhoff with some of the many birthday cards he received from ‘pretty near every place in the world’ after the family of the Langley centenarian let it be known that he wasn’t expecting many cards for his 100th birthday. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Cards from all over the world flood in for B.C. man’s 100th birthday

An online invitation by his family produced a flood of cards to mark his 100th birthday

FILE – Nurse Iciar Bercian prepares a shot at a vaccine clinic for the homeless in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, June 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
B.C. scientists to study effectiveness of COVID vaccines in people with HIV

People living with HIV often require higher doses of other vaccines

A 50-year-old woman lost control of her vehicle Tuesday, June 15, crashing through a West Vancouver school fence that surrounds playing children. (West Vancouver Police)
Driver ticketed for speeding near B.C. school crashes into playground fence days later

‘It’s an absolute miracle that nobody was injured,’ says Const. Kevin Goodmurphy

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dr. Réka Gustafson, who is British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer, speaks during a news conference in Vancouver on April 8, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. public health officials prepare to manage COVID-19 differently in the future

Flu-like? Health officials anticipate shift from pandemic to communicable disease control strategies

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Camper the dog was found Wednesday night by someone walking their own dog along Hollywood Crescent. She had gone missing after a violent attack on June 11. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Camper the dog found safe after fleeing violent van attack in Victoria

Young dog was missing for almost a week after incident

A Photo from Sept. 2020, when First Nations and wild salmon advocates took to the streets in Campbell River to protest against open-pen fish farms in B.C.’s waters. On Dec. 17, federal fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan announced her decision to phase out 19 fish farms from Discovery Islands. Cermaq’s application to extend leases and transfer smolts was denied. (Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror)
Discovery Island fish farms not allowed to restock

Transfer of 1.5 million juvenile salmon, licence extension denied

Most Read