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COUNCIL MATTERS: Rossland City Council Meetings, December 9, 2019

Lisa Henderson receives award from Mayor Kathy Moore. Photo by Sara Golling

Condo owners upset by noise from Mook Thai; Community Grants; embracing the Step Code; opposing water-bottling from groundwater, and more 

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

PUBLIC HEARING on the Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw: no public input.

REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING:

Mayor Moore opened the meeting by announcing the winner of this year’s “Community Contributor” award – Lisa Henderson, for her long history of work with the  Gold Fever Follies.  Henderson choked up during her brief but entertaining comments, and acknowledged the service of former Rossland notables such as Morris Samuelson. 

Public Input Period:  the Mook Thai application

Residents of the condo units in the Old Firehall, above Mook Thai restaurant, spoke to oppose the restaurant’s application for a Food Primary Entertainment Endorsement Liquor License.  The restaurant already has a Food Primary liquor license; the Entertainment Endorsement would enable the restaurant to bring in live bands and other entertainment.

The City had also received many written submissions from the condo owners and from other nearby residents ojecting to the application; excessive noise, a scarcity of parking and loss of property value were common themes.  Only two messages were supportive of the application; they expressed appreciation for the good food the restaurant serves.

Residents explained that they already have ongoing and unresolved problems with noise levels from the restaurant.  Aside from the noise issues, many stated that they love the building – but that it was never designed or retrofitted to prevent sound transmission from the ground floor to the upstairs units, and that retrofitting adequate sound-proofing is probably not even possible.  Residents felt that the first-floor units’ owner “did not do due diligence” before renting the units out to a business that would cause unacceptable levels of noise for the condo owners and deprive them of their right to quiet enjoyment of their homes.

In 2017, the strata council spent $2500 for a sound transfer assessment by BAP Acoustics of Vancouver.  The report concluded that the building was not even compliant with the sound transmission requirements of the BC Building Code.

A side issue was that the restaurant’s existing liquor license seems to be based on an unrealistic number of seats for patrons, as it includes 48 seats on a non-existent “patio” area which is actually part of the common strata area, out in the parking lot, and is not available for the business to use.

An owner of Mook Thai spoke, saying that they were greatly surprised by the opposition to their application.  He also stated that the strata council members did not tell them about the issues with sound when they first wanted to move their business to the old firehall.  He wanted Council to hear about what he described as “harassment” by the condo owners, but Moore explained that disputes among neighbours, and the strata rules and whether they are broken or not, are not City business, and she didn’t want to devote time at a Council meeting to disputes that are not within the  City’s power to resolve.  

Delegations:

The organizations applying for Community Grant in Aid funding were, as usual, encouraged to limit oral presentations to material not covered in their written applications.

Council heard presentations from the Heritage Commission, KCTS, RCAC, the Rossland figure Skating Club, the Rossland Public Library, the Scouts, the StingRays, the Sustainability Commission, and the Tennis Society, all pointing out their value to the community.

The Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre presented their 2019 Annual Report and highlighted the past year’s impressive accomplishments and their plans for the future.  Deke Baley, Vice-president of the Museum Society, gave the presentation. 

Community Grants in Aid:

Spooner moved that the City grant funding for these applications for only one year this time, and move toward a different system of funding them on a longer-term basis with a revamped, improved process. The motion CARRIED.

Council recommended the amounts in bolded font for the applicants as listed:

Black Jack Cross Country Ski Club Society:  Spooner moved not to fund them.  Lewis thought they could acquire the funds elsewhere. Nightingale argued that they serve a large number of community members, including the disc golfers, and Bowman agreed that they contribute to the community.  Forsyth pointed out that cross-country skiing is a growing tourism draw.  Motion to not fund defeated;  Nightingale moved to give them $2,000 “to get them started.”   Decision:  $2,000

Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network: there was no motion on this as it is already funded.

Heritage Commission:  $5,750

Kootenay Columbia Trails Society:  $20,000

              Bowman commented that he would like to see more emphasis on KCTS promoting tourism in Rossland.  Forsyth said he thought that was “a preposterous request” – KCTS is to build trails, and Tourism Rossland is to promote tourism.  

Rossland Arts Centre Society: this society is completely different from RCAC – this group wants to establish a place for artists to work and display; it is seeking funds for a feasibility study.   $1,500

Rossland Council for Arts and Culture:  $10,000

Rossland Figure Skating Club:  Lewis felt that City funding for the arena supports the figure skaters; Nightingale thinks there are other possible grants available for them. Decision:  NIL.

Rossland Museum Society:  asked for an increase from $49,100 to $74,100; Forsyth moved to defer the decision, as he had no idea what the request was based upon.  Defeated;  Spooner moved to continue funding at $50,000.  He`d like more information about the rationale for the requested increase.  Moore felt that $50,000 was a bit low, given how the museum is increasing its value to the community.  Nightingale moved $62,500, based on the museum`s information, and it having become a full-time facility, including their after-school programs. That was also defeated.   Decision:  $57,000.

Rossland Public Library:   $130,000.

Scouts Canada – Second Rossland Scouts Group:  (asked $10,000 for an accessibility ramp for the City-owned building) Decision -- $1,000 toward materials. 

Sting Rays – Greater Trail Swim Racing Club:   NIL

Sustainability Commission:  $12,500

Rossland Tennis Society:   $3,000

Tourism Rossland:  $20,500

WildSafe BC –Rossland (BC Conservation Foundation):  $4000

CFO Elma Hamming explained that the City still had $6,110 left of the amount set aside for grants.   Nightingale moved that the City keep the funds as a “cushion” to cover future requests.  CARRIED.

Application by Mook Thai Restaurant for a Food Primary Entertainment Endorsement Liquor License: a motion to refuse the application CARRIED, on the basis of the noise problems already the subject of complaints from the condo owners above the restaurant,  and the fact that the noise could go even later than it already does.  

Council agreed that it is an unfortunate situation; Forsyth expressed concerns about the City’s role many years ago in approving certain uses for the ground-floor units.

Bylaws:

Revenue Anticipation  Bylaw #2710 – a motion to adopt the bylaw CARRIED

2020 Waste Collection Service and Rate Bylaw # 2711 – a  motion to adopt this interim measure CARRIED.

2019 Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw # 2712 – a motion to adopt  CARRIED

Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2714, to allow short-term rental at 1875 LeRoi Avenue of  three rooms in the home;  a motion to give the bylaw first and second readings, and to set a Public Hearing for January 6, 2020, CARRIED, with Morel and Spooner opposed.  Forsyth, Spooner and Morel expressed discomfort about the parking and traffic situation at that curve (Spokane and LeRoi), and doubted that five vehicles can actually fit in the parking areas available.     

Zoning Amendment # 2715, to change the zoning from Detached Residential Rural to Resort Rural Residential, to allow  short-term rental of 105 Granite Road:  a motion to give first and second readings, and set a Public Hearing for January 6, 2020, CARRIED.

City of Rossland Building Bylaw # 2716:  This bylaw was drafted to update Rossland’s building regulations, which were last adopted in 1998; and in response to changes in legislation, and to Council’s earlier resolution to adopt the Step Code in increments.  Staff suggests further consultation with the building industry, with further possible amendments.   Morel expressed discomfort with what he saw as Rossland`s cautious approach to adopting the Step Code, compared with Kimberley – but Planner Stacey Lightbourne pointed out that Kimberley had started their process three years earlier than Rossland, and had incentives in place for three years before imposing requirements.  Moore concurred with Morel – that we could move more quickly now, because “it’s no longer a brand-new thing.”  Lightbourne stated that before mandating quicker action, Council should understand what the requirements are.  Forsyth asked for a refresher course on the “life cycle of a bylaw.” 

 (Forsyth then packed up and left the meeting at 9:09 pm)  

A motion to amend the DRAFT bylaw by requiring of Step 1 of the Step Code by January 2020, Step 2 by January 2021, and Step 3 as of January 2022  CARRIED.  A further motion to give the bylaw first reading, and to consult further with the building industry, also CARRIED.

Columbia Basin Trust Wildfire Education Grant Application:  A motion to  endorse the program and to provide staff support for the program CARRIED.

 Council reviewed Invoices paid and other staff reports, then councillors reported on the meetings they had attended as Council reps (and otherwise).

Morel presented a written report on the RDKB activities, which included a request that Rossland  Council provide a letter to the RDKB and the Province supporting a ban, both regionally and provincially, on groundwater extraction for water-bottling; a motion to that effect CARRIED unanimously.

Bowman reported that Michele Fairbanks is the new Heritage Commission liaison with the Museum, and will also serve as interim chair of the Heritage Commission upon Jackie Drysdale’s resignation.

Moore stated that the City will be putting together public information about the rationale for moving City Hall to the Emcon Lot development, to respond to citizens’ questions, and publishing it widely.

The meeting adjourned and your reporter perambulated gingerly home along sidewalks and streets that were bare in most places but icy in others, feeling very, very grateful for the sprinkles of grit left by City workers to improve traction and reduce her chances of becoming another statistic:  old woman who dies prematurely after breaking a hip.