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Third potential site for new cop shop council's latest option

The maintenance yard portion of the Cowichan Valley School Doard office site is now officially in the mix as a candidate for the new North Cowichan/Duncan police station location. - Peter W. Rusland/file
The maintenance yard portion of the Cowichan Valley School Doard office site is now officially in the mix as a candidate for the new North Cowichan/Duncan police station location.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland/file

The school’s board’s bus and maintenance land off Beverly Street formally joined two other possible sites Wednesday for North Cowichan’s new police station.

A staff report, due Feb. 19, will probe costs and benefits of SD 79’s site, North Cowichan-owned property farther west along Beverly beside Somenos Marsh, plus farmland behind Walmart at Ford and Drinkwater roads.

That report of options will include the RCMP’s official needs, plus flooding issues; costs of buying, filling, preparing and building the cop shop; RCMP highway and neighbourhood access; and zoning, and environmental impacts, Mayor Jon Lefebure explained.

Each site had pros and cons to Lefebure and Councillor Al Siebring.

“I don’t know which site I like yet,” said Siebring. “They all have issues and problems.

“I suggest our costs would be considerably less for filling at the school district site than our (marsh) piece on Beverly.”

Both guys realized some locals oppose building the detachment on council’s piece beside the marsh as that site — though recently yanked from B.C.’s agricultural land reserve — could impact the sensitive wetland, and suffer flooding.

“If the marsh land wasn’t in play, the same people (opposed to using marshland) would be at our door step about not building on farmland,” Siebring said of Ford farmland, sitting outside the ALR but needing rezoning for public use.

The mayor said provincial guidelines tell school boards to offer spare land — like the bus yard property — first to local governments.

“This site has potential, so council supported that idea,” he said.

Lefebure added the school board land — about 200 yards east of council’s site beside the marsh — is already being used, and is not in a natural state. The property’s assessed value was unavailable.

“It’s a brownfield; it has been used for various uses.”

And while flooding may not happen at the Ford site, it could soak both Beverly sites.

“The (SD79) site is a bit higher and behind the dike,” Lefebure said.

Council’s bylaws stipulate building sites must consider the local 200-year flood-plain limit.

Siebring said the Ford site was simply a backup if the marsh site wasn’t pulled from the ALR “and suddenly it’s the preferred site.”

“Through an accident of history, it’s not in the ALR, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good farmland.”

Council gave first reading Wednesday to conditionally buying the Ford site “to keep all options on the table,” said Lefebure.

One option removed is the RCMP detachment’s current Canada Avenue site, Lefebure explained.

That cramped, damp, ratty building doesn’t meet RCMP standards. Lefebure said the land would revert to a natural state as a stormwater remediation site.

“It floods frequently, access to and from there isn’t the greatest, and we have to keep the police going somewhere while we build a new building,” said Lefebure.

A public meeting will be held about all three options, toward any rezoning hearings needed.

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