North Cowichan council’s regular meeting Aug. 19 began with the approval of an amendment to the Building Bylaw that will require all new construction in North Cowichan to comply with Step 2 of the BC Energy Step Code, as of May 1, 2021.
In conjunction with this, at its last regular meeting, council approved a policy to implement a staged incentive program for new builds in North Cowichan that voluntarily meet Step 2 (or higher) of the BC Energy Step Code, with $30,000 allocated from the Climate Action Reserve Fund to provide incentives on a first-come-first-served basis until funds are exhausted. The new incentive program launches October 1.
Council also considered and adopted a policy and proposed amendments to the Zoning Bylaw that recognizes soil-based cannabis production in the Agricultural Land Reserve as a farm use that can’t be prohibited. It establishes a framework for council to consider applications for non-soil based cannabis production facilities in the ALR on a case-by-case basis.
Results of a feasibility study carried out to determine if net-zero energy is feasible for the new RCMP facility were received by council. The study includes recommended options for achieving net-zero and cost approximately $22,000.
About $11,000 is expected to be reimbursed in a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The net-zero model selected in the feasibility study represented a 77 per cent energy savings, which equates to an estimated $71,000 per annum in monetary savings.
Council directed staff to apply for an FCM capital grant and loan for the new RCMP building to partially offset the cost of constructing a net-zero building which would reduce the payback period and total cost.
Council directed staff to install a new signalized crosswalk on Henry Road adjacent to the Mount Brenton Golf Course in response to several safety-related concerns raised by community members in Chemainus. The cost of the project is approximately $60,000 and will be covered by funds re-allocated from the Chemainus Road Upgrade Project, as Phase Two came in under budget.
Construction will begin in the early fall.
Staff was directed by council to proceed with re-opening Fuller Lake Arena under the COVID-19 Restoration of Programs & Services Plan which will allow a phased resumption of services beginning September 8, 2020.
Council received the 2020 Second Quarter Financial Report which provided an update of the Operational, Capital and Reserve Fund balances, for the period ending June 30, 2020. With the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has proven to be challenging in predicting revenues other than taxation and expenditures in some areas such as recreation services.
Operating revenues are down and 21 per cent of the Capital budget has been committed to date compared to 16 per cent at the same time in 2019.
Council lifted the moratorium on delegations enacted at the March 18 regular meeting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Council also placed a limit of three virtual delegations per meeting.
Council authorized Mayor Al Siebring to write a letter to Island Health. The intent of the letter will be to express support for the enhanced services envisioned for the new Wellness and Recovery Centre at 5878 York Rd. in Duncan, but to object to the lack of community consultation concerning the site of the facility. The letter will ask Island Health to pause any further development of the Centre until public consultation with businesses and residents in the neighbourhood is completed.
The next regular council meeting will take place, electronically, on Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 1:30 p.m.