Plenty of news came out of a three-hour North Cowichan council regular meeting Oct. 7.
Council first considered a Respectful Spaces Bylaw. The purpose of this Bylaw is to address situations of inappropriate behaviours by all persons using municipal facilities (staff and the public), including a detailed complaint process, procedures for enforcement, consequences of a breach (including suspensions and/or monetary fines) and an appeal process. First, second, and third readings were given to the bylaw and it will be considered for adoption at a later meeting.
To help support the Council Standards of Conduct Policy, Council considered an amendment to the Council Remuneration Bylaw. The amendment would result in a reduction in compensation or Councillors who are found to breach the Standards of Conduct Policy, with the garnished remuneration contributing to the costs of engaging a third-party investigator.
After some discussion, council gave first, second and third reading to the bylaw and it will also come back for consideration of adoption at a later date.
Council received and accepted staff’s Council Strategic Plan third-quarter report for the period from July 1 to Sept. 30 detailing the progress on the plan.
A request to apply for Community Resiliency Investment funding was considered by council to reduce the risk of wildfire within the community. The Community Resiliency Investment program is a provincial program managed by the Union of BC Municipalities to reduce the risk and impact of wildfire on B.C. communities through community funding, supports, and priority fuel management activities. The proposed CRI grant application is for a total project cost of $135,345, focusing on fuel management, FireSmart planning and community education as recommended in the draft Community Wildfire Protection Plan which is currently under review with the UBCM.
Council authorized staff to submit an application to the CRI 2021 FireSmart Community Funding and Supports Program for grant funding which would be used to hire a qualified professional to conduct detailed treatment prescriptions in the high-risk areas, including critical infrastructure, fuel reduction treatments around critical infrastructure as per the approved treatment prescriptions, and development of a Wildfire Development Permit Area.
In January 1997, the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the Municipality of North Cowichan entered into a 50-year lease agreement for the maintenance of Osborne Bay Regional Park in Crofton. Since 1997, the CVRD Regional Park system has greatly expanded and it now has the internal capacity to assume maintenance of the park.
Returning responsibility to the CVRD would enable North Cowichan park staff to perform other work within the municipal boundary that would benefit North Cowichan residents. Council decided to return Osborne Bay Regional Park maintenance back to the CVRD, effective January 1, 2021.
Council then considered extending the 60-day pause on the public engagement on the future of the Municipal Forest Reserve that was previously mandated on July 15 to facilitate a government-to-government consultation with local First Nations.
“Out of respect for the First Nation consultation process and the potential for the outcome to impact the scope and scale of public engagement, council decided to extend the pause while the First Nations consultation continues,” noted Mayor Al Siebring.
Council directed Mayor Siebring to write a letter of support for the Halalt First Nation to submit with its grant application under the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund to make its gymnasium and community hall more energy efficient.
In the closed meeting, council approved a change for the construction of the new North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP facility from mass timber to structural steel. Since elector assent was sought to proceed with borrowing the cost of a new RCMP facility, and council subsequently approved the borrowing bylaw, staff observed a steep increase in the cost of mass timber by 150 per cent this year alone and a shortage in supply due to COVID-19.
In modelling the facility after the new Fort St. John RCMP building, staff has watched and learned from its experience. The challenges and escalating costs Fort St John faced using mass timber demonstrated a need for North Cowichan staff to work with the construction manager to determine if this was the best material to use in the construction of the facility here.
The construction manager determined that structural steel would be a feasible alternative to mass timber and would cost approximately $1.8 million less to use, thus creating a saving in the capital budget for the project. Council was assured the building will still have a “West Coast look” with the use of wood trim and other features.
The next meeting will take place electronically on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 1:30 pm.