Council held its first Regular Council Meeting of the year on January 18, starting at 1:30 p.m. and wrapping up after four hours.
Cowichan Neighbourhood House Association (CNHA) appeared as a delegation to inform Council of their desire to be accommodated as part of a community space and affordable housing development within a proposed multi-use building, at 9800 Willow Street, Chemainus, which is currently a vacant Municipal property. The CNHA, in cooperation with the Chemainus Harvest House Society, would like up to 5,000 sq. ft. of space in the new building on the main floor plus storage space in a proposed basement. It is estimated the groups would need to raise $1.5 million to make this a cost neutral addition to the affordable development proposal. At this time the concept for the site identifies between 1,850 and 2,100 sq. ft. of community space on the main floor, plus parking.
Council rescinded third reading for three bylaws related to the new Kingsview Development to allow for scheduling of a new Public Hearing and to engage the Cowichan Tribes in regard to their concerns with potential trespass on Cowichan Tribes lands via the Municipal Forest Reserve, potential archeological impacts, and traffic concerns on Tzouhalem Road.
Starting this year, the Cowichan Aquatic Centre will be open from noon to 4:00 p.m. on Family Day, which falls on the second Monday of February each year, with reduced or waived admission fees.
Two identified sites, 3191 Sherman Road (adjacent to the curling facility), and 9800 Willow Street (the old Fire Hall site in Chemainus), received first and second reading of bylaws to facilitate affordable housing projects. A Public Hearing will be scheduled to received feedback from members of the public on this proposed partnership with the Community Land Trust Foundation of BC who would finance, construct and manage the affordable housing units at no costs to the Municipality. The Municipality’s contribution is the form of a 99 year lease on the land. Additional information and an opportunity to provide comments on this topic are also available at PlaceSpeak, a new online citizen engagement platform. Residents are encouraged to sign up to receive updates and provide feedback on this and other topics as they become available.
Council supported the Province looking into a conservation tax program that would provide a property tax incentive to protect environmentally sensitive lands.
Finally, approval was granted for the Fuller Lake Arena to commence a $200,000 HVAC upgrade as part of the 2017 budget.