Campbell W. is a very engaged 13 year old who has asked me some great questions during this campaign. I will be posting his questions and my answers, and hoping that others of his generation will engage as well.

Campbell W.

Could you please let me know all of the information on how the new all-weather soccer field will be paid for?

Mayor Jon

The synthetic turf field will allow for much more use by the soccer players, especially in rainy weather when we actually have to close the natural fields. Without it, we cannot meet the need for playing and practice time.
We plan to use Gas Tax Funds amounting to $832,000, $300,000 from the Cowichan Valley Soccer Association and $268,000 from the Land Sales Reserve Fund to pay for new all-weather surface. Interestingly, we anticipate savings in annual maintenance costs, that can go toward the eventual replacement of the surface.

Campbell W.

What will you do to help preserve water? For the past couple of summers we have been low. What are we doing in the winter to build it up or store it?

Mayor Jon

I am working on water issues at several levels. To conserve Municipal water during our dry months this year, we put in place Stage 3 Water Use Restrictions. We also meter water use for houses, businesses and industry to monitor use and find leaks. We have inclined water use rates so that users pay more per cubic meter as their usage rises.

At the CVRD, I have served as a member of the Cowichan Watershed Board for the last 3 years. We are working very hard to make sure the Cowichan River always has enough water for the fish that live and spawn there. We hope to be able to store more water in Cowichan Lake by raising the weir so that we can release water into the river when there is no rain. The CVRD Board is also looking at how we might get more control over all the watersheds in our area.

Farms need water as well, for animals and irrigation. We have been talking with farmers, in North Cowichan and the Regional District, about how much they need, when they need it and how they might capture it in the wetter months.

As our First Nations neighbours have been telling us, water is our most precious resource, without which there can be no life, and it is up to all of us to preserve our water.

Campbell W.

My next question is. What is done to keep property in the ALR? Can new properties join the ALR? How is this process done?

Mayor Jon

The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) was created to preserve the relatively small amount of land in BC that is suitable for agriculture. The ALR is protected by Provincial Legislation which the Province is currently reviewing. The Province has been hearing a strong message from the public and local governments that the ALR should be preserved as is.

A landowner can make application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to add or remove (most common situation) land from the ALR, or allow non-farm use. Local governments also have a role to play because these applications come first to them and, in some cases, can be prevented from moving ahead to the ALC. North Cowichan has a policy that no land should be removed from the ALR unless an equal or greater amount of land is put into the ALR and there is a net benefit to agriculture.

Campbell W.

My question is how is North Cowichan becoming greener as a community?

Mayor Jon

Well, we made a start when we preserved 91% 0f Echo Heights as a park. We are starting to implement the Climate Action and Energy Plan which has many green parts. If we are successful with it, we will plant more trees, grow (residential and commercial) mostly in our core areas and leave our rural areas as green as possible, reduce our energy use and therefore our greenhouse gas emissions, drive less, walk and bike more, create our own renewable energy such as solar photo-voltaic.

If you click on the featured image above, you will see the 17 panel photo-voltaic array, generating up to 4200 watts, that I installed on my roof in May. I am monitoring it so that after 1 year, I can tell people how much energy it has produced and what my return on investment is.

There is much more to do. I hope that you and your peers will play an important role in protecting the environment now and in the future.