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November 16, 2020 Rossland City Council Meetings

Community Contributor Award bestowed; Council returns to meeting by Zoom as of December 14, 2020;  those electrifying Chicken coops; contentious stanchions on Thompson; a $50 fine for wandering cats?

Present:  Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Dirk Lewis, Andy Morel, Stewart Spooner, Janice Nightingale, and Chris Bowman.   Staff:  CAO Bryan Teasdale, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne, Executive Assistant Rachel Newton, Manager of Public works Scott Lamont, Manager of Special Projects Darrin Albo, Manager of Recreation and Events Kristi Calder,  and Chief Financial Officer Elma Hamming.

Here are a few things some people may not have known about Larry Doell:

Mayor Moore announced the annual “Community Contributor Award” and presented it to Larry Doell, saying, “Council is so pleased to present our one annual recognition award to Larry Doell. The choice was challenging as each of the six nominees is fully invested in our community and deserving of this award. We picked Larry because of his impressive years of service and the breadth of his contributions. His level of volunteerism and service to our community is amazing: he is an original, and long-serving member of the Rossland Heritage Committee;  active member of the Board of the Friends of the Rossland Range and the driver behind the construction of the new Sunspot Cabin;  long serving Board member of the Rossland Council for Arts & Culture and ongoing volunteer who served on the RCAC Renovation Committee that spearheaded the renovation of the Miners Hall;  Director of the Board of the Rossland Winter Carnival Society, served as Co-Chair and continues to volunteer;  long serving board member of Community Futures of Greater Trail and also served a term as a Rossland City Council member.  As the owner of Doell Photo Larry donated his photography services to many community events including Winter Carnival,  Rekindle the Spirit of Christmas, the Heritage Commission and many live music performances hosted by Rossland Council for Arts & Culture and Trail Arts Council.  He has hosted the last 4-5 years of Community Fruit Pressing at his home and has welcomed Sustainability Commission Energy Crawlers to his energy efficient straw bale home.  The world in general and the City of Rossland in particular, is a better place because Larry Doell lives and volunteers here.  Congratulations Larry!” 

Doell expressed his thanks, and said, “Obviously we’re a community of volunteers,” and added, “If you want something done, just jump in and do it.”  He thanked Moore for her contributions to the community as well.

PUBLIC HEARING:

The “Chicken Bylaw” -- to amend the Zoning Bylaw

The City had received a lengthy letter on the issue from a local farmer, and staff made some amendments to the DRAFT bylaw, based on the contents of the letter. Other advice in the letter was not incorporated into the draft presented at this hearing: specifically, the draft still requires electric fencing to protect chicken coops, but did away with the detailed instructions regarding electric fencing; and the bylaw still forbids chicken owners from killing them on their property.  The letter had suggested that this will just drive owners of a chicken that is due for slaughtering to take it inside and kill it in the bathtub, or transport the chicken(s) to some more remote location on a little-used road and deal with it there.  The letter had also pointed out that is entirely possible to compost chicken carcasses safely, but the bylaw states that chickens “must not be buried or otherwise disposed of on the property.”

A resident who has 15 chickens, moved here in March and did their due diligence about chicken ownership, said there were no requirements for electric fences at that time, and she would much prefer that it be a recommendation rather than a requirement. She said they and their neighbours all have small children and pets, all running freely from place to place.

REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING: 

PUBLIC INPUT PERIOD:

Erika Krest of the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce spoke, asking for an extension to the deadline for the Community Grant program.  She listed a number of moves by the Chamber  to help local businesses. They are now working on a campaign encouraging residents to patronize local businesses in preparation for the holidays.

Petition:  “Citizens of Thompson Avenue”-- signed by 15 residents and listing 28 names, asks the City to remove the temporary plastic stanchions placed at some intersections along Thompson Avenue as a pilot project to attempt traffic calming – to encourage drivers not to speed along Thompson.

The petitioners state that the aim of reducing speeding has not been achieved, and that the stanchions create additional danger to pedestrians, especially seniors and parents with small children, and also to cyclists, dogs, bears, and deer; and that the danger will be exacerbated by snowbanks and berms left by plowing.

Lewis moved that the City remove the stanchions, collect traffic data, and discuss setting up a speeding task force for Thompson Avenue.  He commented that they have received conflicting anecdotal reports, but have no solid evidence to back up either view.

Asked for input, Albo said the stanchions were recommended by an ICBC expert; he said stop signs don’t work at all. He added that they’re a pilot project based on expert advice, and he doesn’t agree with pulling them out prematurely.   Morel said he’s in favour of leaving them in place for the time being – he said he thought that the complaints are, at least, evidence that they are “being noticed.” He said they’re a visual cue for people to check their speed.  Nightingale said she has “full confidence” in the advice given and in Public Works being able to determine the value of the pilot project.  Spooner says he doesn't claim to know more than traffic engineers or City staff.  He’s in favour of getting the information. 

The motion to remove the stanchions FAILED with only Lewis in favour.   Moore noted that the stanchions may well be removed at the end of the pilot project.  

BYLAWS: 

The “chicken bylaw,” Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2733, discussed at the evening’s Public Hearing:  Moore asked for input on the recommendations.  Spooner thought people would ignore the parts of the bylaw they don’t agree with anyway.  Moore noted that she thought it would be fine to kill ones’ own chickens and bury them deep in the yard, but all other council members agreed with including the IHA recommendations as requirements. 

The electric fencing requirement was more vigorously discussed; Lewis favoured having electric fences be “highly recommended” but not be mandatory.  Spooner opined that having the requirement would be more persuasive for chicken owners.  A motion to change the language to recommend electric fences FAILED three to three.  A motion to accept the language suggested by staff also FAILED three to three.  The bylaw will remain in abeyance until such time as Council has seven members.

Heads up, cat owners:

Animal Control Bylaw# 2738 contains suggested amendments to the fee structure, including lowering the license fee for dogs.  Another new line in the DRAFT bylaw would impose a fine of $50 for allowing an “unrestricted animal” such as a cat to be at large – that is, outside the owner’s property and not on a leash.

Moore asked about the designation of all Rossland’s  parks as dog exclusion zones.  She also suggested that the fine for an un-neutered male dog at large should be the same as the fine for as a female dog in heat being at large (“unrestrained’).  A motion to increase the fine for un-neutered male dogs at large CARRIED.

Moore also suggested correcting the language of the bylaw to make it clear that dogs are allowed to be tied up unattended as long as they’re tied up in a “dog parking” area, and Teasdale agreed that no motion would be required to correct that. 

A motion to give first, second and third readings to the bylaw as amended CARRIED unanimously.

Staff are working to find an alternative kenneling facility to the SPCA which has moved to Castlegar, and which Rossland has not used since the move.  The SPCA’s kenneling service has cost the City $4,590 a year.  

Revenue Anticipation Bylaw# 2741:

The purpose of this bylaw is to to ensure access to cash flow, if needed, before the property tax deadline.  The City does not expect to need to rely on borrowing to meet its financial obligations before tax time, as it hasn’t needed to do so since 1999. However, this bylaw is a requirement of the municipality’s banking contract with the Nelson & District Credit Union in Rossland.  A motion to give the bylaw first, second and third readings CARRIED unanimously.

2020 – 2024 Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw #2742: 

This is a housekeeping bylaw, to make the following amendments to the 2020 – 2024 Financial Plan Bylaw No. 2722:  THAT the amount of $197,234 under Bylaw 2310 be transferred to the Regional Sewer Utility Reserve Fund, and THAT a portion of the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding received in the amount of $9,084 be transferred to the RMI Program Reserve Fund.  A  motion to give it first, second and third readings CARRIED unanimously.

Proposed Rossland COVID-19 Safe Restart Reserve Fund Bylaw # 2743: 

The Province of BC is providing funding for local governments  dealing with increased operating costs and lower revenue due to COVID‐19, to help local governments deliver the services people depend on in their communities. Eligible costs will include: • addressing revenues shortfalls; • facility reopening and operating costs; • emergency planning and response costs; • bylaw enforcement and protective services like fire protection and police; • computer and other electronic technology costs (to improve interconnectivity and virtual communications); • services for vulnerable persons (e.g. persons living with disabilities, mental illness or addictions, persons experiencing homelessness or other vulnerabilities); and • other related costs.   

The bylaw is to ensure transparency and accountability in administration and reporting how the funding is used.  A motion to give the bylaw first, second and third readings CARRIED unanimously.

Business License Amendment Bylaw #2744:

This iteration of the Business License Amendment Bylaw simply removes the $400 deposit for short-term rentals.  A motion to give this amendment bylaw first, second and third readings, and to set a Public Hearing for December 14, 2020,  CARRIED unanimously.

POLICY REVIEW:

Community Events Sign Policy:  A motion to approve the policy as slightly amended CARRIED unanimously.                         

Video Surveillance Policy:  A motion to re-affirm the policy CARRIED unanimously.

Council Committee (Advisory Group) System Policy:  A motion to amend the policy by deleting unnecessary requirements, and to re-confirm the policy as amended CARRIED unanimously.

Christmas Gift Certificates for City Employees Policy:  Lewis thought the policy is a “bit tone-deaf” in view of how many people in town have suffered privation because of COVID, and City staff have not lost income; Nightingale noted that City staff have worked extra hard because of COVID.   A motion to re-confirm the policy CARRIED.  Spooner said he sees it as an investment in staff morale. 

Emergency Operations Centre Activation Wage Reimbursement Policy:  A motion to approve the policy as presented CARRIED unanimously.

Tourism Dependent Communities Initiative Grant Application:  Spooner said he wasn’t very excited about the suggested projects, but staff explained that with little time to prepare the application, and the requirements attached to it, projects had to be “shovel-ready” or nearly so.  A motion directing staff to apply for the grant, in the maximum amount, CARRIED unanimously.

Steve Ash Centennial Trail Grooming Agreement, 2020- 2022; A motion to approve the agreement CARRIED, with only Nightingale opposed; she thought the increases in compensation were too high.

Pottery Society Agreement:  A motion to approve the agreement for 2020 to 2023  CARRIED unanimously, after discussion of the cost and safety factors – the room is equipped with sprinklers.

Rekindle and Winter Carnival (modified):  Morel said he thinks it’s unwise to do any event that would bring people together; Calder explained that no events are planned that would bring groups of people together.  Nightingale said she’s glad to see something being done to try to give the community a bit of fun.  A motion to approve the proposal CARRIED unanimously.

Budget and Financial Plan Review:

Nightingale moved that staff be directed to analyse the effects of decreasing the amount of the planned residential (class 1) properties by .5%, 1%, and 1.5%,  and report the results to Council.   The motion CARRIED.

Council reviewed City Reports:

1. Building Permit Inspection Activity for 2020

2. October 2020 Building Permit Report

3. Step Code Update 2020

4. Public Works Report October 2020

5. Water Production 2012 - 2020

6. Heritage Commission Statements of Significance

7. Trail and Greater District RCMP Mayors Report

8. Updated Task List

Trail and District Chamber of Commerce request:  Bowman moved that the request to allow a late application  for Community grants be approved, on the basis that it will help build regional relationships, and the Chamber is working hard to support Rossland businesses.  The motion CARRIED unanimously.

A mask motion:  Lewis moved that the City mandate the wearing of masks inside all City-owned facilities. He thinks the City should show leadership, and help back up and  reinforce the local businesses requiring masks. Spooner thinks it should be implemented wherever possible, but would like to see “common-sense flexibility” such as being aware of whether curlers must wear masks while playing in the City-owned curling rink.  Bowman commented that he thinks some people “get a false sense of security” from wearing masks, and then fail to social distance; he also queried how it would be enforced.  Moore favours making masks mandatory, but having some flexibility; Nightingale felt torn;  Morel thinks Rossland generally has been doing very well, but notes that Rossland will have a large influx of visitors in ski season.  The motion to mandate masks in all City facilities FAILED;  but a motion to direct staff to create a robust policy around expectations of mask-wearing CARRIED.

Council members reported on the meetings they had attended.  Morel reported that the RDKB is  moving ahead with curbside organics pick-up.  He noted that COVID is forcing more people to resort to the local food bank, and suggested that Council should donate to the Rossland food bank the funds that would otherwise have been used for a Christmas party; Moore pointed out that we don’t know the amount yet. A motion to ask staff to find out the amount before the December 14 meeting CARRIED.

Morel moved that Council go back to meeting remotely, and Staff and Council discussed the logistics of notifying people about changing the December 14 Public Hearings to being held remotely.  The motion CARRIED four to two.

Council adjourned the meeting,  and your reporter bundled up and went to the carpeted foyer to remove her bunny-patterned slippers and don boots with spikes on, and sloshed home in the sleet on a layer of slishy slush, and was then inspired to shovel away a small but heavy berm across the driveway.  And even enjoyed it – time spent outside shovelling compacted slush is better than time spent inside sitting at a computer, right?