North Cowichan has heated exchange over timelines of its official community plan review. (File photo)

North Cowichan has heated exchange over timelines of its official community plan review. (File photo)

North Cowichan’s OCP review divides council

Tight timelines leads to heated debate

There were some tense exchanges as North Cowichan’s council once again questioned the timelines of the ongoing official community plan process at its meeting on May 5.

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, on top of a number of other factors, have led the municipality to decide last month to extend the timelines of the completion of its ongoing review of the OCP to Feb., 2022, from its original deadline this spring.


But at the council meeting as staff presented its new proposed schedule to complete the process by the new deadline, it was pointed out that many in the community believe they are still not being provided with enough opportunities to provide input into the process under the schedule’s tight timelines.

Coun. Rosalie Sawrie asked if council needs to reevaluate the timelines.

“Are they realistic based on the expectations that have been set?” she asked.

Rob Conway, North Cowichan’s director of planning and building, agreed that the timelines are tight, with little time to adjust if their were further requests for public engagement.

“We feel that we can meet the deadlines, but there could be consequences to that,” he said.

CAO Ted Swabey said he is also concerned North Cowichan is not providing enough engagement with some of the groups in the municipality in the review process.


“I know that we have been receiving some comments [from the public] that more input is needed,” he said.

“Some members of the OCP citizen’s advisory committee are disgruntled with the process, and at least half of council is also not happy with it. This process is very ambitious and I worry that we may not have buy-in from the community for the final OCP at the end of this.”

Mayor Al Siebring said the elephant in the room is the majority of council has determined that it wants the OCP review process completed by the end of its term next year.

“I said at the last meeting that the last OCP review process stretched over three council terms,” he said.

“This time, COVID-19 and other factors got in the way, and we would likely have been a different place right now if we had not been stalled in this process for the past six to eight months. We might want to question whether our expectations are too high in terms of getting it done now if, at the end of the day, the final product would suffer because of lack of community buy in.”


Coun. Kate Marsh said the deputy CAO Sarah Nixon said staff have the OCP process under control and can meet the tight deadlines.

“I think we’re the problem here and we should trust the people that work for us to get this done,” she said.

“I’ve never seen such an ideologically split council in North Cowichan, and the electorate is doing the same. That’s where leadership comes in and we should vote with our conscience because there’s no way we can get everyone in the community to agree.”

Coun. Tek Manhas said North Cowichan could have a great OCP if everyone works together and not bring their own biases into it.

He said everyone at the table believes in the environment, but council members also have to deal with the economy.

“We need a balanced approach and not choose one over the other, and we have to work together. I think we need more time and we need to engage with more people. We could have a great OCP if we talk to all members of the community.”

Coun. Debra Toporowski said the OCP is not just council’s plan, but the whole community’s, and council must listen to the public and what it wants to see in the plan.

“If we’re facing delays, it’s because we want to include everyone’s voice,” she said.

“We will never get 100 per cent buy-in for the new OCP but it must include everyone, even those who are cranky.”

No decisions were made at the meeting to again extend the timelines for the OCP process.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

municipal politics

Just Posted

Tim Wilkinson, who will attempt a double anvil triathlon on Vancouver Island on July 3, poses with his training partner, Shadow, who has been dragged up and down the Nanaimo Parkway many times. (Submitted)
Vancouver Island triathlete takes on ‘double anvil’ for charity

7.6km swim, 360km bike ride, and 84.4km run, all within 36 hours

From left: Thomas Kuecks, David Lane, John Ivison, Denis Berger, Rod Gray, and James Kuecks are Cabin Fever. Catch their performance on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre website. (Ashley Foot photo)
A&E column: Music Festival winners, CVAC awards, and Cabin Fever

The latest from the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley MLA Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

BC Green Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

The city-owned lot at 361 St. Julien St., which has been home to a temporary homeless site for more than a year, will be sold and plans are to build a three-storey mixed-use development there, Peter de Verteuil, Duncan CAO explained at a recent council meeting. (File photo)
New development planned for homeless site in Duncan

Lot on St. Julien Street would see three-storey building

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read