Westward Independent

Council Watch – Feb

by Westward Independent
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North Cowichan

February 2024: North Cowichan wrapped up their budget debates and got a taste of Bill 44

The 2024 budget was accepted with Cllr. Findlay, and Cllr. Manhas in opposition to the 5.18% increase.

Cllr Manhas opposed the budget from the beginning stating that taxes could be lowered if council would stay in its lane. He stated that the Province is what created the mess that local tax payers are now having to foot the bill for, and that they should be providing the money to fix the issues they brought in (ie safe injection site, transition housing, legalized drugs).Cllr. Manhas went on to state that local taxpayers are now on the hook paying for Restorative Justice, which is a provincial responsibility, and having to hire a social planner for the same reason. Additionally; he stated that the Environmental Department has grown significantly and that taxpayers money that was used for the Climate Action and Energy Fund (CAEF) has given out rebates such as 85k to Cowichan Green Community, even though they just sold their building. Cllr Manhas has repeatedly opposed motions to add tax payer money to CAEF. Staff gave an option to withhold placing more into The CAEF this year that has a reserve of over 800k, adding that by not placing money into that and the Quamichan Lake fund which has 629k reserved fund there would be a good tax reduction for the constituents.

Cllr. Justice acknowledged the tough times local people are having, but praised the staff’s work on the budget, and the Mayor for his leadership in cost savings. He then justified the increase in taxes by stating that other areas were similar or worse, so “in context we are doing well”. Cllr Justice also acknowledged their commitment to ‘long term sustainability’
Cllr. Findlay was the last councilor to speak on the budget stating that he really did not care what other municipalities and regional districts were doing tax wise, and was disappointed in the increase. He stated that staff did well presenting options, but the councilors could have done better, to “tighten our belts”, and ‘put some things on the shelf’.



February 2024 CVRD Faced upset farmers and citizens, raised taxes significantly, and increased the park acquisition fund.

The road outside the CVRD saw many tractors slow-rolling past the building until they came to a stop in front of a large crowd of people who had come to support their message and bring their own to the Board members. The Board was asked by Nature Trust to send a letter to the Agricultural Land Commision to help them with proceeding forward in the flooding of almost 200 acres of farmland in Cowichan Bay. Previously one could bring requests directly to the ALC, but in 2020 the rules changed and you now have to go through local government first. Land Keepers Society, COAP Inc, and other concerned citizens filled up the half-hour time limit allocation for public feedback.

The Board had the choice to do as Nature Trust had asked, or not. Without really any debate Director Nicholson was the first to jump on ‘calling the question’ (bringing it to a vote). The Board voted to follow the request of Nature Trust. The crowd was visibly upset, as were the Farmers still sitting outside.

The following meeting in the CVRD saw the drastic increase to taxes get the go-ahead, as elected members lamented the hard times of their constituents but ultimately residents in the CVRD area will see a tax increase of nearly 20%. Area Director McGonigle stated “I will find it difficult to mention to my community who has a median income of $35k-$42.6k of the decision we did make”, while Mayor Douglas brought 30×30 into the discussion as if it were a voted-on initiative, which it is not, just another United Nations initiative to ‘protect’ 30% of water and 30% land by 2030 – that apparently the CVRD residents must pay for part of.

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