North Copwichan’s council must decide if it wants to continue with new RCMP detachment project and approval process while the COVID-19 crisis continues. (File photo)

North Cowichan must decide if it wants to continue with new RCMP building this year

Municiplaity wants to use alternative approval process instead of referendum

The Municipality of North Cowichan is expected to make a decision on whether it wants to continue to the next step in the construction of the new $40 million RCMP detachment at its meeting on April 15.

Staff will ask if council wants to move forward with its plans for an alternative approval process to be held to determine if the electorate wants to borrow the money for the new detachment while the COVID-19 crisis continues.

RELATED STORY: COUNCIL CHOOSES AAP OVER REFERENDUM TO GET VOTER APPROVAL ON NEW RCMP DETACHMENT SPENDING

In a report by Megan Jordan, the municipality’s communications director, Jordan said failing to move forward at this time will delay the project until next year.

She said that to enable staff to move forward with the project this year, staff are proposing to remove one of the elements of the plan previously approved by council.

“At this time, it is no longer feasible to carry out a media/resident tour of the existing RCMP detachment due to physical distancing orders put in place by the Provincial Health Officer,” Jordan said.

Jordan said that by shifting North Cowichan’s emphasis more toward digital communication, the public can still be provided with the necessary information to proceed with the alternative approval process safely, notwithstanding the 90-day postponement of all public engagement made by council on March 18 when the COVID-19 crisis first struck the area.

RELATED STORY: NEW NORTH COWICHAN/DUNCAN RCMP BUILDING ESTIMATED TO COST $40 MILLION

The municipality decided in a council meeting on July 17, 2019 to use the alternative approval process to determine if the electorate wants to borrow the money for the new detachment.

An AAP requires that 10 per cent or more of the eligible voters in a municipality must sign and submit response forms in opposition to the project to stop the borrowing process from proceeding.

If 10 per cent of voters in North Cowichan sign forms in opposition to the project, the municipality would then have to choose to either hold a referendum within 80 days, or council may put the project on hold and consider alternatives.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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