North Cowichan CAO Ted Swabey said staff don’t have the resources to keep up with council’s ongoing priorities. (File photo)

North Cowichan CAO Ted Swabey said staff don’t have the resources to keep up with council’s ongoing priorities. (File photo)

Senior staff in North Cowichan raise time constraint concerns

OCP review taking a lot of staff time

Senior managers in North Cowichan are concerned about overloading municipal staff with work in their efforts to keep up with the priorities of council.

On Dec. 2, council decided to defer a motion for staff to work with the Cowichan Housing Association to develop an affordable housing policy until a meeting later this month after hearing the concerns of CAO Ted Swabey and Planning and Building Manager Rob Conway.

Coun. Rob Douglas introduced the motion after pointing out that there is a critical lack of affordable housing in North Cowichan, for both rental and ownership of homes.


He said the situation has grown steadily worse over the last decade as market conditions have changed in cities and towns across B.C. and Canada.

“There is some urgency to [the motion] as there are several development proposals coming, including one with several hundred units at Berkey’s Corner,” Douglas said.

Coun. Rosalie Sawrie agreed, stating that the lack of affordable housing in North Cowichan should be a concern for everyone at the council table.

“The housing market is not in line with the need, and we have to ask how COVID-19 will further impact accessibility to housing,” she said.

“We have to be proactive here and I suggest we develop a new housing policy in tandem with the [ongoing] review of the official community plan.”

But Swabey said staff doesn’t currently have the resources to develop a new policy on top of all its other duties and responsibilities.

“I encourage you to defer this motion until we present our business plan to council [on Dec. 8] so that we can coordinate and present all the work council wants us to do,” he said.

“You keep layering on projects on us and every time you do that, you think we can make it a priority. This can’t happen. Council has already set out its priorities and this will be at the bottom of the list until we get to it long after the OCP review is complete. Giving us more resources is another way to do it, but just giving us more money to hire a consultant means that someone still has to manage it, so it doesn’t solve the problem.”


Swabey said patience is required to complete the monolithic task of reviewing and updating the OCP, which is going to require a huge “implementation requirement” with many more projects for council to consider when finished.

“I encourage you to wait until we present our business plan so you can get a better picture of all the work you are asking staff to do,” he said.

Conway said the current OCP already contains significant policies around affordable housing and the issue is not for more policy, but the ability to implement what is already there.


“There are things we can do to enhance our [affordable housing] policy and that will come out of the OCP review,” he said.

“Our resources need to be focused and we will come to council with some options on how to advance some priorities on housing as well as other areas that council has as priorities, including the environment. There’s a bunch of stuff council wants us to advance and that requires boots on the ground, or we have to bring in consultants.”

Mayor Al Siebring said he didn’t think it would be wise for council to vote on the motion until members have seen the business plan.

“I think [staff] has heard us clearly, and maybe they can tweak the business plan a little, or maybe drop some other priorities [to accommodate us],” he said.

Council voted unanimously to defer the motion until the next council meeting on Dec. 16.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Municipal Government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Moira Mercer spent her summer riding her e-bike around Cowichan Lake and beyond, collecting any empties she found along the way. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan 2020 in review — conclusion

What were your top stories from 2020?

Staff meetings can be difficult when everyone has his own agenda. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Garden additions at request of staff

I’ll sow the catnip in flats on the seed table inside

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: Snowballs fights and dead spiders

Even if it doesn’t end up how we hope, it’s the trying that matters most.

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker in Nanaimo fails at fraud attempt, slams door on business owner’s foot

VIDEO: Suspect causes pain and damage in incident downtown Friday morning

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Most Read