North Cowichan council’s regular meeting May 19 began with a report from Inspector Chris Bear on the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP’s first quarter activities in 2021.
Calls during the months of January to March were down slightly, consistent with last year’s trend during the pandemic. Overall, there’s been a decrease in Criminal Code offenses, but a rise of 71 per cent in Section 28 (mental health) apprehensions.
Council learned detachments all over B.C. are experiencing similar trends. Insp. Bear also shared a draft of the Annual Performance Plan for the upcoming year, which included details for increased police presence and visibility in the north end of the municipality in Crofton and Chemainus. This will be accomplished by dedicating a minimum of 700 hours of patrol time to the areas this year, and the opening of a new Community Policing Office in Chemainus.
The first of two bylaws adopted was a Zoning Bylaw Amendment for 3325 Henry Rd. in Chemainus that will permit a second detached dwelling unit in addition to a principal single family dwelling in the A3 zone.
The second, the Bylaw Offence Notice Enforcement Bylaw establishes an adjudication system for the municipality as an alternative to the provincial court for resolving minor contraventions. The system will enable the municipality to implement a more cost-efficient administrative system for enforcing minor bylaw infractions.
Council considered an application to exclude 2993 River Rd. from the Agricultural Land Reserve. The applicant was seeking to exclude their 1.35-hectare property due to it historically not being used for farming because of poorer soil conditions, slopes on the property and its relatively small size.
A unique situation, the property is located both within the Urban Containment Boundary – the municipality’s urban growth centre – and the ALR, resulting in conflicting policies pertaining to the land. After hearing from staff, the proponent, and following much debate, council voted to keep the property in the ALR, thus denying the application and not moving it forward to the Agricultural Land Commission.
Council then looked at an application for a development permit and variance for an addition to a single-family dwelling within 30 metres of the ocean and a man-made watercourse at 7933 Stoney Hill Rd. Many measures are planned to protect the watercourse, including a two-metre buffer and vegetation enhancement, and the proposed addition will not harm any ecosystems. Council agreed to approve the application, reducing the setback from a watercourse from 15 metres to threes.
A request for exemption from flood construction requirements for the proposed construction of buildings at 2431 Beverly St. was considered. North Cowichan leases the land to the Cowichan Green Community for its farm incubator program, seed program and more. It has received grant funding for a new agricultural food hub and plans to construct two non-residential buildings on the property for commercial agricultural activities.
Council learned the property is safe for the intended use provided staff’s recommendations are followed, including: limiting the use and development of the land in accordance to what has been certified in the Geohazard Assessment Report prepared by Madrone Environmental Services Ltd. and establishing conditions that respect the reimbursement by the tenant or owner for any expenses the municipality may incur as a result of a breach of the lease or covenant.
Council received a report on the use of Anticoagulant Rodenticides and directed staff to ban their use on all North Cowichan owned properties. Recognizing a significant degree of concern exists in the public regarding the potential risk posed to wildlife, domestic animals and human health through the continued use of anticoagulant rodenticides, council agreed to limit their use where possible.
“For clarity, local governments do not have the jurisdiction to ban use broadly, but can do so on their own properties,” noted Mayor Al Siebring. Residents can expect to hear more about the harmful impacts of anticoagulant rodenticides through upcoming communication and the sharing of educational materials.
Staff is considering the options around implementing an automated solid waste collection system, but before making any decisions around this service change, council directed staff to proceed with public engagement that will seek input from the community on the proposed change. Switching from the current manual curbside collection to an automated system could have positive implications with reduced injury claims for staff and increased options for service such as new bins and the possibility of yard waste collection. However, it would come with an increased cost to taxpayers. Residents will receive more information and opportunities to submit feedback on the topic beginning late summer/early fall.
Coun. Rosalie Sawrie brought forward a motion to amend the flag protocol policy to fly the pride flag, beginning in 2021, every year from June 1 to June 30 during Pride Month at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre. The flying of this guest flag has been authorized in previous years as a celebration of diversity and inclusion, but this motion, which council agreed to, will ensure the flag is flown every year and the issue will not have to repeatedly come back to council for consideration.
Council has received a large amount of correspondence and feedback from residents about Rogers Communications’ two proposed cell towers in North Cowichan. While Rogers is undertaking some public consultation, council felt the public response to this proposal warranted something more regarding decision-making on the topic. Council has directed staff to develop a communications tower/antenna systems approval policy, and while that policy is under development, directed staff to inform Rogers that the municipality will not be entering into licences of occupation for the two proposed sites near Kaspa Road and Evans Park.
The meeting reconvened at 6 p.m. for a public hearing for a Zoning Amendment Bylaw at 1379 Maple Bay Rd. to permit the use of an existing building as a detached second dwelling. No public correspondence was received on the application, either for or against. The existing building, at 600 square feet, was built 60 years ago as an accessory building, and has since been converted to a cabin. Under the current zoning, a two-family dwelling is permitted, and this application seeks to reallocate the same density to two detached residential buildings. After closure of the public hearing, council gave third reading to the application, and it will be back for adoption once staff confirms the registration of covenants.
The next meeting will take place electronically on Wednesday, June 2 at 1:30 p.m.