It was a busy year for North Cowichan, especially in terms of major land use decisions.
Zoning for a neighbourhood commercial centre at Berkey’s Corner was the subject of extensive debate and eventually received approval.
There was less controversy when lands on Bell McKinnon Road were considered for rezoning to public institutional use, to accommodate a new Cowichan District Hospital. Council supported the rezoning and purchase of the lands has been completed by the CVRD as the process to move the hospital project forward continues.
Another major proposal, the Kingsview Comprehensive Development Plan, was brought to Council as a replacement for the failed Cliffs Over Maple Bay plan. The detailed plan received both praise and criticism, and reached third reading near the end of 2016.
However, concerns about the proposal were received from Cowichan Tribes after the closure of the Public Hearing, 3rd Reading was rescinded and there will be a Public Hearing in 2017.
I would like to thank Council and staff for their work on these major issues and a multitude of other concerns facing North Cowichan.
Looking ahead to 2017, the new draft Zoning Bylaw (introduced in 2016) will be the subject of a major public process. Concurrently, Council will be holding a planning exercise for the much-debated Donnay Drive/Maple Bay Road polygon, leading to a reconsideration of the Donnay Drive residential development application, and a limited review of the 2011 Official Community Plan policies and the location of the Urban Containment Boundary.
We will be seeking final approval from the Province to use safe, clean water from the Chemainus Well water system all year.
Implementation of the Bonsall Creek Watershed Management Plan, received with accolades in 2016, will begin in 2017, with drainage issues for farmers being high on the agenda.
With the Duncan/North Cowichan Amalgamation process established in 2016, the work of the Citizens Assembly and the consultant’s Amalgamation Study will proceed in coming months.
Other issues to be worked on in 2017 include receiving approval, relocating the treated effluent outfall from the Cowichan River to Satellite Channel, updating the Backyard Burning Regulation, moving forward on development of affordable housing with the Community Land Trust of BC, understanding water quality and invasive species issues on Quamichan and Somenos Lakes, and finalizing a Bike Network Plan and adopt the Parks and Trails Master Plan.
All in all, Council and staff will be challenged to deliver on the wide array of significant projects and issues already on the table for 2017.
Mayor Lefebure also submitted the following message as the Cowichan Valley Regional District Board Chair:
As 2016 draws to a close, and having reached the halfway point of this election cycle, the CVRD Board has found its stride and is looking forward to making the most of the next two years.
We will be dealing with ongoing issues around contaminated soil in the south end of the district, managing flows in the Cowichan River, establishing an asset management plan, building relationships with First Nations, and improving our engagement with the public, along with the day to day management of the many services offered by the Regional District.
There will be more intensive discussion of land uses as proposed developments such as the LNG terminal are considered.
The Board has demonstrated a strong work ethic and an openness to look at new ways of doing things. It is my hope that with our improved process for communication and outreach, people will feel more connected and become more involved in the efforts of their local government to build community.
First Nations are a very important part of our community and we will continue down the path of Truth and Reconciliation. Part of that process will involve working together on projects like the removal of the JUB treated effluent outfall from the Cowichan River and on programs like Story Trails.
Thank you for this opportunity to talk about what we can expect in 2017 and to wish everyone a healthy and productive New Year.