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Our dogs are all sweethearts; closer to a Rossland Forest Park; watch for the new 'budget tool'

Rossland City Council meeting, January 8, 2018

          Present:  Mayor Kathy Moore, and all Councillors: Lloyd McLellan, John Greene, Aaron Cosbey, Marten Kruysse, Andrew Zwicker, and Andy Morel.

          Public Hearing:  The hearing was scheduled to hear comments from citizens about the application to rezone 1973 Second Avenue from R1-Infill to R1-Infill-Guest Suite. No one spoke to the matter.  In fact, there was only one person in the public gallery.

          Public Input Period: Resident Jill Spearn, the lone member of the public attending, spoke about street lights, and said there were two lights which were supposed to be replaced, and still aren’t there.  However, Manager of Public Works Darrin Albo was not in attendance to respond. She also complained about snow removal and the timing of it; in particular, she commented on the inconvenience of Washington Street being blocked off on a couple of mornings, so that people had to drive around on the highway to get to the ski hill.  (Moore commented that the highway is actually the preferred route, and takes no longer.) Spearn objected to applying the municipal leash law on trails, saying that she doesn’t think it is needed because everyone’s dogs are friendly and well-behaved.  She questioned the benefits of a “Forest Park” (on the agenda; see below) and suggested that the land proposed for it should be kept available for development. She also opined that the Emcon Lot should not have any commercial component when it is developed, as commercial activity should be concentrated in the downtown core.

Moore thanked Spearn for bringing her views and concerns to Council.

           Delegation

Christine Andison of the Red Mountain Racer as scheduled to make a presentation on the Spirit Chek Canadian National Champtionships, which will be held at Red Mountain from March 21 to 28, 2018; however, she was unable to attend.

           Staff recommendations, Council decisions:

Another step toward a Rossland Forest Park:  in response to a presentation to Council made by Anthony Bell of Red Barn Lodge on March 27, 2017, suggesting that Rossland establish a “Forest Park,”  staff recommended that Council direct staff to bring forward an amendment to the Official Community Plan to designate some City property, as well as some of the applicant’s land, as “Park” and to include language supporting the addition of more land into this Forest Park in future.

Zwicker commented that his initial reaction was like Jill Spearn’s, but he realized that although we are surrounded by forest, hardly any of it is protected for the future.

Cosbey reported that he had also had an initial negative reaction to the idea, but then he looked at the Official Community Plan and the Strategic Sustainability Plan; he cited a number of provisions from both which support the concept of the Forest Park.  He also thinks the development potential there is low, and pointed out that none of the lots in the Black Diamond Ridge development have sold – there’s little light there in the afternoons.

McLellan also supports the idea of the Forest Park, and said that because we are “oriented toward the outside environment”  it’s important to protect green space around Rossland.

City Planner Stacey Lightbourne pointed out that servicing residential development in the area of the proposed Forest Park would be more expensive, partly because it goes uphill.

Morel stated that he is in favour of the Forest Park.

A motion that staff come back to Council with a map suggesting areas to be kept available for future development, as well as Forest Park areas, CARRIED.

Another motion, to adopt the Lower Columbia Healthy Communities Plan, CARRIED.

(Cosbey expressed some concern about the wording of some of the provisions, but supported it. He noted that adopting it implies an obligation to take actions toward implementation.)

Sorry, no off leash dog area: a motion that Council direct staff to draft an amendment to the Animal Control Bylaw, to designate City-owned land on and near Deer Park Hill as an off-leash dog area, FAILED.

In the summer of 2015, Council had asked Staff to investigate options for an off-leash dog area. Trail users have complained to the City about problems with off-leash dogs on many trails around Rossland, as it is common practice for most or all dog owners to unleash their dogs at all trailheads and let them run free, although this is not actually legal according to City by-laws. The only place any dog is legally allowed off-leash within City limits is on the dog-owner’s own property.

Staff had examined the suitability of all areas of Rossland’s trails network, and concluded that City property in the Deer Park Hill area would pose the fewest problems for both dog owners and other trail users as an off-leash area.

Morel thought that an off-leash area would be helpful, with certain other areas restricted to on-leash only, with enforcement, communication and education.  Cosbey agreed with Morel, and suggested that Centennial and the KC Ridge trail would be good candidates for on-leash only enforcement.

McLellan said he would vote against the motion, saying he thought the real problem was owners’ failure to clean up dog poop. Greene agreed with McLellan, as did Kruysse, although Kruysse noted that he has been growled at and bitten, and his wife knocked off her bike and injured, and that without exception the owners of the offending dogs have said “but my dog’s a sweetheart!”

Cosbey pointed out that an off-leash area would relieve the pressure on “our non-existent enforcement.”

Moore invited other ideas.  Morel suggested enforcement of the leash requirement on Centennial Trail, but others argued against it, and a motion to that effect FAILED.  There will be no changes to Rossland’s Animal Control Bylaw, for now.

Rossland Community Pottery Society – Lease

A motion to approve a three-year lease agreement with the Pottery Society for two rooms in the basement of the Miners Union Hall, for $150 per month, to increase by 5% each year for the following two years, CARRIED.  Kruysse queried the cost of electricity for firing the kiln; CAO Bryan Teasdale explained that there is no separate meter for the pottery area, and the City will monitor the overall cost of power for a year.

           Bylaws: more short-term rentals in the works

A motion to give third reading to Bylaw # 2641, to rezone 1973 Second Avenue from R1-Infill to R1-Infill Guest Suite CARRIED; and a second motion to adopt the bylaw also CARRIED.

A motion to give first and second reading to Bylaw # 2642, to rezone 2670 Columbia Avenue from R1-Infill to R1-Infill Guest Suite, and to schedule a Public Hearing for February 13, 2018, CARRIED.

A motion to give first and second reading to Bylaw # 2643, to rezone 1970 Second Avenue from R1-Infill to R1-Infill Guest Suite, and to schedule a Public Hearing for February 13, 2018, CARRIED.

Council voted unanimously to give Bylaw # 2640, Recreation Fees and Charges, first, second and third readings.  Kruysse had objected that he didn’t think the fees should be in a bylaw because it might hamper staff’s ability to “negotiate” to fill the spaces. Moore pointed out that leaving the charges negotiable could invite favoritism. Teasdale referred to the requirements of the Community Charter. 

Rossland Statutory Officers Bylaw # 2645 also received first, second and third readings by a unanimous vote.

A motion to give first and second readings to Bylaw # 2647, to rezone 1983 Kirkup Avenue from R1-Residential to R1-Residential Guest Suite, and schedule a Public Hearing for February 13, 2018, CARRIED.

           Staff Updates and Reports:

Task List:   Moore announced that the City has received the Age Friendly grant in the amount of $24,898, applied for in 2017.

Building Permit Report:  2017 saw permits issued for 37 new residential buildings, compared with 2016 which saw permits issued for only 17 new residential buildings. 

Fourth-Quarter report on the City of Rossland Corporate Management Plan; Moore expressed heart-felt appreciation for the report and its quality, and McLellan echoed the appreciation.

Public works Monthly Report:  December 2017; Morel expressed appreciation for the job City staff are doing on snow removal.

Water Consumption:  2010 – 2017; Moore noted that the water consumption statistics for 2017 are “distressing” and hopes they can be attributed to leaks that will be found and repaired.

              Member Reports:

Morel reported that the library was successful in getting a substantial grant toward its renewal process (see separate item); their plan is to go to tender by the end of the month, though they still need more funding for the project and are doing various fundraising projects.

Greene invited assistance in working on “Council’s Pipe Dream” (Council’s bobsled for the race during winter carnival.) Moore, Cosbey, Greene and Morel will be the riders, as Zwicker will be absent, and Kruysse and McLellan declined the honour.

Cosbey attended the YAN Advisory Committee meeting in December, and reported that the YAN plans to have their new building open in the spring. 

Watch for it – the new budget tool!

Moore initiated a round of applause for “Elma [Elma Hamming, Manager of Finance]and the new budget tool!”  Council members will have stations in town to introduce it to residents; it will be available through the City website, and Moore will inform residents about it in the City newsletter. Currently it’s in “test mode.”

For residents interested in where their tax dollars go, the new budget tool will make it very clear. It will also enable residents to calculate how their preferences on City spending would affect taxes, and to give the City their input on where tax dollars should go. The City hopes to launch the budget tool in a few days, and to collect citizen input with it until February 4. Perhaps this will be a more effective way of gathering information and opinions from residents than the traditional meeting at City Hall, attended by the usual four Rosslanders.

Moore also reported that Melissa Gresley-Jones will be Rossland’s new Recreation Programmer, starting on January 15th.

Moore pointed out several new works on art on the Council chamber’s wall, created by two Syrian artists currently living without status in Turkey and awaiting permission to join Rahaf Swayne, a refugee now living in the Kootenays, who is the daughter of one artist and the sister of the other.

The meeting adjourned, with no in camera  session, and your reporter walked home along the packed-snow-coated sidewalks and streets, grateful for her urban crampon traction devices, and contemplating the wonderful level of citizen engagement and volunteerism in our small City; may it continue and grow with new residents and young people. (Now, if only a greater percentage  -- like 100%, please -- of dog owners would restrict their dogs’ wanderings and be aware their dogs' bowel movements, and bag the latter and put them in a trash bin. Utopian idea, you say?)