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COUNCIL MATTERS: Rossland City Council meeting February 16, 2021

Rossland City Council Meeting, February 16, 2021 -- By Zoom

Rezoning moves ahead; Mid-Town Transition project out to tender; Winter Games 2026?  Disturbing intrusion at the Library; RDKB report . . .

Present:  Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Andy Morel, Stewart Spooner, Janice Nightingale, Chris Bowman, Dirk Lewis, and Terry  Miller.

Staff: Planner Stacey Lightbourne, CAO Bryan Teasdale, CFO Elma Hamming, Recreation and Events Manager Kristi Calder, and others not visible to your reporter.

Public Input Period: No one spoke.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw:  2075 St. Paul Street

Staff recommended that Council give third reading to Bylaw # 2734, to change the zoning from R1 Residential Infill to R-3 Multiple Family Residential, with conditions to be registered on title before the bylaw is adopted:  a City approved storm water management plan for the site that addresses runoff and snow melt from buildings, parking areas, snow storage areas and driveways so adjacent properties are not impacted; and vehicle access and parking for the new building must not be from St Paul Street; and to address privacy concerns, a landscaping buffer must be planted along the southern property boundary.  The owner would also be required to register a covenant to keep the lane clear all year so that the parking spots off the lane are always accessible.

The City had received six messages from neighbours opposing the proposal, and four people had expressed concerns at the Public Hearing on December 14, 2020.

Lewis expressed concern that the proposed design presented could be changed; Lightbourne explained that it’s only the zoning that’s being approved at this time, not the actual design or any of its features, and that the various other restrictions and requirements would discourage much change.

Bowman asked whether there had been any safety assessment of the proposed driveway on St. Paul to access one parking spot for the existing building; he is concerned about safety. Morel shares the concern about that driveway, but Spooner pointed out that the driveway off St. Paul has already been in use for some time. 

A motion to give the bylaw third reading CARRIED, with only Lewis opposed.

Policy Review:  Council reviewed seven policies:

Management Minimum Benefits Policy -- approved

Council Minimum Benefits Policy -- approved

Financial Assistance for Use of Facilities, Pools and Parks Policy  -- approved, and Council discussed a further proposed motion to rescind the Financial Assistance for Use of Facilities, Pools and Parks Policy, effective December 31, 2021, when the budgeted funds will be transferred to the Community Grant Funding budget.  After discussion, the  proposed motion CARRIED.

Miller moved that Council re-launch discussions on addressing the Trail Recreation Program (TRP), and the motion CARRIED.

Personal Expense and Travel Policy:  Council discussed whether exact amounts should be claimed up to a limit, or just the basic meal allowance as set by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Staff acknowledged that the basic allowance is easier and less expensive for staff to process.

Energy Efficient Building Incentive Policy:  Under this policy, builders are refunded a portion of the building permit fees, based on how energy efficient the building will be according to the Step Code.  Morel was interested in increasing the incentives. Lewis wants to place a cap on the rebates available per build;  Spooner liked the idea of a cap  on rebates, to encourage smaller builds.  After some discussion on renovation requirements, Lightbourne pointed out that renos aren’t subject to the  Step  Code – it’s just for new builds.  Renos fall under the “Energuide.” Miller said the thinks the home reno market is a good target for improving the energy efficiency of our housing stock. Moore asked if Council wanted to refer the policy back to Lightbourne for some tweaking, in line with tonight’s discussion.  A motion to refer CARRIED unanimously.

Purchasing, Consulting and Publicly Tendered Contracts Policy, as amended to include environmental sustainability goals in sourcing and products.  Spooner likes adding considerations of environmental sustainability, but thinks it adds to staff burdens, because he says the policy doesn’t give staff any criteria for distinguishing between bids – but staff pointed out that those criteria can be set out in each RFP.  The policy was unanimously approved.

CBT‐CIP Grant Allocation Policy:  Council discussed the issue of members stepping aside from funding decisions because of an apprehension of bias when a spouse is a member of a group applying for funding; the conclusion was that it’s better to avoid any potential appearance of bias.  An amendment was added to ensure that CoW decisions are final only after being approved by Council at a regular meeting. 

Scholarships and bursaries:  A motion to approve 2021 scholarship amounts as follows CARRIED: the JL Crowe Rossland Health Awareness Award of $500, the JL Crowe Rossland award $750, the Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre Scholarship of $500, and the Seven Summits Centre for Learning Scholarship of $500.

Fourth-Quarter Budget Update 2020 was presentedfor information only, and there was  no discussion.

Council reviewed the usual list of staff reports without further discussion:

1. Building Permit Report Jan2021

2. Building Permit Inspection by Type Report Jan2021

3. Step Code Energy Rebates Jan2021

4. Bylaw Enforcement Report Jan2021

5. Public Works Report Jan2021

6. Water Production Report Jan2021

7. Updated Task List

Members’ Reports (highlights only):

Miller – reported that the library will be taking steps to safeguard staff as a result of a recent incident when library staff experienced aggressive and threatening behaviour from a visitor. In a subsequent communication, Miller wondered whether all our local workplaces have plans in place for dealing with aggressive or disturbed behaviour;  whether everyone knows how best to respond, and to immediately call 911; and has in mind the different exits or safe places in their buildings.  He also wondered whether  there are training or reading resources that would help local workplaces and their staff prepare to face someone with aggressive behaviours and to de-escalate a potentially threatening situation.

Nightingale – attended another Mid-town Transition meeting – the project has gone out to tender; they are now pushing BC Housing to finalize the ownership structure.

Morel submitted a written report on the RDKB, which is reproduced in full below. He said the RDKB is waiting to hear back on “some major grant applications” for the sewage treatment plant upgrade.

Moore – Rossland is looking to put in an application for co-hosting the 2026 Winter Games with Trail; it would be a big draw for visitors.  Motion:  that Rossland support the bid for the Winder Games. CARRIED, with Spooner opposed.

Moore will be a participant in a weekly COVID vaccination update meeting with other mayors; and she is  happy to see that Rossland’s plastics bylaw has been approved by the Province.

Release of In Camera information:  motion to release an in camera motion (below) CARRIED:

“Resolved that Council appoints the following applicants to the Sustainability Commission’s Economic Development Task Force:  Jim Firstbrook,  Dan Eheler, Darin Recchi  and  Derek Stefiuk.”

The meeting adjourned, and your reporter shut down her computer and spent some quality time relaxing with the warm, cuddly and just slightly overweight household cat purring on her lap.


RDKB Report, by Andy Morel (not edited):

RDKB COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES:

Utilities Committee – January 13, 2021 by Zoom

·      Fruitvale Councillor and Director Alternate, Bill Wenman nominated to serve as Deputy Chair.

·      Numerous and diverse Service Work Plans and proposed budgets presented for 2021 Region wide services being administered by RDKB staff. Services from streetlight plans at Big White Community to Columbia Gardens Water Service and many services between. 

·      For Rossland, and partners in this service – Warfield, Oasis, Rivervale and Trail, the East End Regional Sewer Utility Service (700 Budget) is a large and busy service with numerous smaller projects planned and a potentially large project if the grant application for the Columbia Waste Treatment Plant is approved shortly – Spring grant announcements anticipated. Overall increases for this proposed budget is 2.9% for 2021. No contribution to reserve for 2021.

·      Anticipated Rossland Property Tax Requisition increase from $297,982. (2020) to $325,520. for 2021. Individual allocations based on measured sewage flow rates. For 2021 budget, Rossland flow rate has increased from 18.32% (2020) to 19.33 (2021).

·      Currently there is no capital reserve policy however continuation of Asset Management Plan will contribute to help future plan development.

·      Workplans were approved, budgets deferred until next Board meeting.

Board Meeting – January 13, 2021 by Zoom

·      Staff Report – Mark Stevens, Emergency Services Manager.  Level 1 Emergency Activation continues for RDKB with Covid 19 Outbreak at Big White Ski Resort. Support being provided for a few individuals requiring self-isolation accommodation at Big White. Provincial reimbursement through EOMBC anticipated.

·      Staff Report- CAO, Mark Andison with update on Covid 19  Staff Wage Continuation Program. Approximately $47K costs to date. Reimbursements from BC Recovery funds planned.

·      Staff Report – CFO, Barb Ihlen. Presentation of General Government/Administration Workplan and Budget for 2021. Staff presented the General Government (001) preliminary proposed budget summary noting there is a 1.1% increase in the requisition and a 2.31% increase in the overall budget for 2021. The primary drivers for the changes include the internal recovery of administrative costs as discussed with the Policy and Personnel Committee, which is developing a cost allocation policy. This updated policy is being deferred for the 2021 budget with administrative allocations being retained as per previous years. Board directors and staff reviewing department allocation policies towards service budgets for 2022 and on.

·      New Human Resources management position being proposed for 2021 budget year with ongoing staff salary negotiations with potential increases, may impact budget estimates. Approval for workplan approved, budget approval deferred for future meetings with discussion around use of reserves to offset increases.

·      Staff reviewed the budget highlights including a decrease in director and staff-related travel and expenses due to COVID-19 provincial health orders reducing the ability to travel in 2021. At a future meeting, staff will provide an update on the cost-savings from reduced director and staff-related travel and expenses during the pandemic. Staff reviewed the accounts for miscellaneous revenue and asset management. It was noted that there will be further discussions and Board education around a strategy for developing the asset management plan.

·      Staff Report, Janine Dougal,  General Manager of Environmental Services advised that there have not been any changes to the overall work plan except updates to the projected budget year-end actuals. She listed current and projected costs for various projects and she explained the primary drivers for the 4.09% tax increase for 2021 – budget approvals still pending. Staff reviewed projects where grant applications have been successful and advised that applications for grant funding for other projects have been submitted or are pending submission. There was a discussion around the use of reserves to reduce the requisition. Staff explained when the use of reserve funds would be best and why. Staff reviewed revenue changes (2020 to 2021) for materials recovery, miscellaneous revenue, previous year's surplus, transfer from reserve, revenue from capital fund, expenditure changes (2020 to 2021) and future project cost considerations. Work plan approved, budget decision deferred for future meetings.

·      Staff Report. Chief Dan Derby regarding 9-1-1 Service

·      A staff report from Dan Derby, Regional Fire Chief regarding the final 2021 9-1-1 Emergency Communications (015) Work Plan and the proposed 2021-2025 Five Year Financial Plan was presented. There are no substantial changes other than an update to actual expenditures with the reallocation of public safety salaries. He explained the allocation of $35,000 budgeted for an evaluation of the fire dispatch network radio communications system for the fire dispatch repeater network across the RDKB. Staff answered inquiries regarding the use of reserves and surpluses to offset the costs for the radio communications system evaluation. Chief Derby anticipates substantial capital cost expenditures required in future years. Workplan approved, final budget approval deferred.

·      A staff report from Mark Stephens, Manager of Emergency Programs regarding the final 2021 Emergency Preparedness Service (012) Work Plan and the proposed 2021-2025 Five Year Financial Plan was presented. Mark Stephens advised that the work plan is largely unchanged since it was presented to the Board last fall. He noted that there is a 47.11% increase in the requisition for 2021 due to the use of reserves in previous years to pay down requisition levels. Cost allocations and salaries including the salary for 1 FTE in the Emergency Preparedness Service are other drivers for the requisition increase. There was a discussion regarding the high demand on RDKB resources and work plans when the RDKB Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is activated. There was also a discussion regarding support from municipal staff during emergencies through their participation in EOC training and in the EOC during emergencies. Staff will provide the Board with a report regarding this matter at a future meeting. There was a review of options regarding the addition of one FTE to the Emergency Preparedness Service. Staff explained the need for this position and that it is included in the budget as a 2-year term position. Directors concerned about such a substantial increase but realize Provincial regulations are pressuring increased service levels thus cost increases. Workplan approved.

East End Services Meeting – Jan. 19, 2021 by Zoom

·      Election of Vice-Chair – Ali Grieve by acclimation.

·      Staff Report: J. Chandler, General Manager of Operations/Deputy CAO - Re: Dam Revenue and Disbursement – East End Directors are expressing conderns about the allocation of hydro dam revenues within the service budgets. Discussion with James and  Barb Ihlen presented high-level answers to the following questions:

1. Where do portions of these revenues get allocated presently?

Dam revenues are currently split into two sources, the regional fire service and general administration, which is further allocated to the board fee.

2. What do the regulations or any agreement say about disbursement of these funds?

Due to the lack of historical documentation outlining the allocation of these funds, the Cost Allocation Policy was developed. The intent of the policy was to provide more transparency in terms of how the allocations of administration overhead costs to each individual service. This policy was developed through the Policy and Personnel Committee.

3. Do the East End Directors have any final say in where these funds are allocated?

CAO, M. Andison suggested deferring consideration of the policy until the Committee members had the opportunity to provide input and feedback through the Policy and Personnel Committee through to the Board over the coming year. He recognized that all the questions and concerns raised by the Committee members around the Cost Allocation Policy and dam revenue would involve more time to resolve and to have fulsome future discussions and meetings around the same. Defer this would allow review of the implications from the various options that would be presented. For the current budget forecasting (2021), budget allocations will continue using the previous allocation formula - board fee + 2% allocation.

·      Staff Report: B. Reilley, Manager, Victim Services overview/workplan. Slight increase from Ministry of $5,000. For 2021 budgets. Workplan approved with suggestion to use reserves - $59K to keep budget at 0% increase for 2021. May have to increase Requisition Limit for 2022 – will review.

·      Staff Report: Chief D. Derby -  to provide an overview of the 2021 Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue Service (050) budget. D. Derby spoke to the importance of meeting the service levels previously adopted by the Committee. He sought early budget approval on four items: 1. Stn. 371 - Kitchen renovation, 2. Stn. 373 - LED lighting upgrade; 3. Stn. 376 - Furnace upgrade; and 4. Turnout gear – (Covid 19 impacting delivery timelines.) These items approved. Discussion and questions regarding need for pump test pit – budgeted for 2021 and 2022. Total budgeted cost of $250K. Ongoing discussions on this item.  2021 Work Plan approved, budget approval deferred for future meetings.

·      Staff Report: Mark Daines, Manager of Facilities and Recreation. Discussions on needed service, repairs and upgrades for Greater Trail Community Centre and Selkirk College continued interest in future ownership transfer of the building.  Negotiations continue.

·      Staff Report: J. Chandler on Economic Development 2021 budget. Includes an increase of $34K with lack of grant funding from previous provider. Budget decision deferred for next meeting.

·       Staff Report: J. Chandler on East End Transit workplan/budget 2021. Early approval givenfor up to $18,000 for an application to the BC Transit Bus Shelter program prior to the deadline of February 1, 2021. Up to 3 new transit shelters for East End. Workplan and budget approved.

·      Staff Report: J. Chandler – Cemeteries workplan/ budget. Discussion around asset management plans and collaborations with member municipalities. Budget deferred for future meetings.

Regional Connectivity Meeting – January 25, 2021 by Zoom

·      CBT Staff Report – Aimee Ambrosone, on Federal Universal Broadband Application through CBT, (Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation). A basin wide application being completed in support of broadband infrastructure in numerous communities and rural regions throughout the East, Central and West Kootenays. Approx. 15,000 households eligible for connectivity upgrades with this application. Majority of support to provide fibre “backbone” infrastructure for CSRD, RDEK and RDCK communities. Our region, RDKB has a small # of households identified in the Park Siding community – 94 that would qualify under this application. With Board proposal acceptance and funding contribution approval of 5% towards the project – approx. $27,500. This is under consideration currently. Total Basin wide application projects ask is ~ $40M. Application deadline has now been extended beyond Feb. 15, 2021 to allow extra application preparation time.

Board Meeting – January 28, 2021 by Zoom

·      New Board Director, Danna Rozek, Area D to replace former Director, Roly Russel, new MLA for Boundary-Similkameen.

·      A staff report from Mark Stephens, Manager of Emergency Programs presenting an updated 2021 Emergency Preparedness Service (012) Five Year Financial Plan since Board review. He noted that staff require clear direction on the budget and the inclusion of the Emergency Programs Coordinator (EPC) position, given it is a critical point in time for recruiting and hiring before freshet. Since the last presentation, staff have reduced the overall budget requisition limit by just over 22% down to 25.17% while maintaining the EPC position. Directors questioned the need to maintain such a high reserve. Staff noted ~ $750K of assets in Emergency Preparedness Department that will require future replacement, upgrades or repairs thus the need for reserves.

·      Staff Report: F. Phillips, Senior Energy Specialist Re: Kootenay Clean Energy Transition Director Morel, Environmental Services Liaison. Regarding the Kootenay Clean Energy Transition pilot project with the Regional District of East Kootenay and Central Kootenay was presented. Freya Phillips, Senior Energy Specialist reviewed the staff report and advised that it is time to move forward with the immediate priority work plan activities and to confirm the RDKB's commitment to $30,000 in funding from the CARIP reserve fund. Passed.

The priority activities target trades and contractors across the region and customer education. These activities are complementary and will work in conjunction with new home and Energy Step Code activities being undertaken by the RDKB. Year 1 - Immediate Priority Workplan Includes: Insulation trade training - Increase program registered contractors for insulation to allow customers access to insulation rebates post April 1, 2021. This activity will take a dual approach, promoting the need with customers and the community, and targeting the insulators and builders. 2. Heat pump and mechanical systems training – Phase 1 will be via online best practice training platform in preparation for targeted heat pump pilots. 3. Home energy data app and decision making tool - explore the opportunity to work jointly with Vancouver municipalities to procurement for app development for home energy data and decision making tool.

·      Mark Andison, Chief Administrative Officer regarding: Fire Services Budget, answered questions regarding the allocation of $125,000 for training grounds/pump pit, as set out in the budget section of the final work plan. Staff clarified that the inclusion of the $125,000 in the work plan does not mean this funding is not necessarily approved for inclusion in the overall budget. Staff will draft a report with information on how the $125,000 for training grounds will be spent. The report will be presented to the East End Services Committee at a future meeting. Note: a further $125K has been budgeted for this project in 2022.

Extra Items of Note:

·       Recent email from CAO, Mark Andison to Directors and Staff on recognition of RDKB’s participation in electric fleet program. Chair, Langman participated in a Ministerial rollout announcement of the new Provincial Funding Programs. Email and Youtube link from Mark A: “I would like to share with everyone the great job our Board Chair did earlier this week on the provincial CleanBC – Go Electric fleet program announcement.  Chair Langman hit all the key points about our Electric Vehicle Pilot Project, our ongoing conversion of our fleet to electric vehicles, and our growing EV infrastructure to support that conversion. Diane even managed to underscore our smart and sustainable message at the end of the interview portion of the announcement. Here’s a video link to the announcement made jointly by Minister Heyman, Minister Ralston, and Chair Langman: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=F0uPerZG6A8<https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=F0uPerZG6A8&feature=youtu.be

·      GM of Finance/CFO, Barb Ihlen recently provide a proposed 2021 budget allocation summary for RDKB services that City of Rossland participates and contributes financially towards. This is a great summary for Council and citizens to see the direct costs of the services we participate in and rely upon. Note: this is proposed budget figures to date. Staff and Directors are making adjustments and deliberating 2021 department service budgets for the next few weeks towards finalization. (link to summary).

 


Prepared by: Councillor Andy Morel, RDKB Director - Rossland