Council unanimous on Ford Road site for police building

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North Cowichan council is proceeding with steps to make a location near the Cowichan Commons the new site for a North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment building.

Council voted unanimously to move forward with the open field property on Ford Road. A public hearing will be required to change the zoning on a three-acre portion of the land to Public Use for the building, with the remaining two acres going to R1 Residential.

"it's not solving everyone's issues,'' said Councillor Jen Woike of the site selection. "But I think this is a good fit for our alternatives.''

Two properties on Beverly Street were initially considered the front-runners — one parcel created by the diking project at the edge of the Somenos Marsh and the other the existing School Board administration office area that will be relocating to another site.

Environmental issues that created an outcry in the community and further exploration that determined the Beverly Street sites required many additional costs not known initially steered council toward Ford Road as the best choice, Woike indicated.

"Once all the information's out there, I think we all make good decisions,'' she said.

"A long process , but I believe a very positive outcome,'' noted Councillor Ruth Hartmann. "It is important to note RCMP sites have been looked at by staff for many years now, knowing it was an eventual necessity. However, based on requirements set out by RCMP, needs, cost comparisons, proximity to our core and community input, I am happy knowing the decision has been made and we are moving forward to the next steps.''

The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society is pleased North Cowichan is not going to build the new station in the marsh.

However, "we are very concerned about the effort and resources that North Cowichan put into their favoured location in the marsh only to be told that they cannot build emergency services in the floodplain,'' commented longtime society member Paul Fletcher.

"It is disappointing to us they they did not listen to the SMWS when we said the same thing a year ago when the issue started. We also lament the ongoing loss of farmland since the new police station is destined to be put on good farmland, especially as we close in on food shortages due to southwest USA droughts.''

On the other hand, "we are are pleased that a few of the the more forward-thinking councillors are now talking about recognizing the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area for what it is, a very valuable natural area that has world wide recognition as an Important Bird Area,'' added Fletcher.

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