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Councils Discuss Cooperation on Cross Boundary Issues

Councillors from Duncan and North Cowichan held a joint meeting Tuesday at city hall in Duncan to discuss issues affecting both municipalities and maintain an open dialogue between councils.

One of the agenda items was an update on the Trans Canada corridor improvement plan.

The two councils voted on a staff recommendation to ask the province to refresh the corridor management plan, funded on a one-third basis, and ask municipal staff to report on which recommendations in the updated management plan can be accomplished in the next five years.

The two councils also received reports on the Safer Community Plan and whether people should be allowed to live in RVs parked on municipal streets.

Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples says it’s necessary for the two municipalities, along with the Cowichan Valley Regional District and Cowichan Tribes, to maintain cooperation on issues that cross boundaries and affect all of our communities.

The things that we really learned to do, “according to Staples, “is to recognize that the needs are in our community and then to use a joint collective voice to go to tables of other levels of government and advocate for what we need in our communities.”

Staples says Duncan and North Cowichan have built strong relationships with higher levels of government which have brought benefits.

She says it’s slow process to get the investment needed in our communities, but we have received some substantial help from the province.

The mayor notes that BC Housing funded two supportive living buildings in the region and the provincial government recently extended funding for the Village tiny homes and supportive services project.

Staples says to make such investment happen takes a a great deal of time and effort from everyone involved in the advocacy.

However, she says things have changed rapidly in our communities and the needs of five years ago are very different from the needs that exist now.

Staples says the ongoing challenge is not a lack of desire by the provincial, but that we are just one of many communities in BC facing problems and asking for help resolving them.

The report on the Safer Community Plan notes a need for continued collaboration among stakeholders on the toxic drug and housing affordability crises.

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