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Report: Rossland City Council Meeting, September 14, 2020

By-election coming up; nominate a Community Contributor please; Bear Smart? -- and chicken coops.

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

Staff:  CAO Bryan Teasdale, CFO Elma Hamming, Executive Assistant Rachel Newton, Planner Stacey Lightbourne, Manager of Operations Scott Lamont, Manager of Special Projects Darrin Albo, Manager of Recreation & Events Kristi Calder.  

Public Input Period:

Michael Aman, president of the Rossland Curling Club, made himself available to answer any questions about the Curling Club and its lease renewal.

Delegation:  The regional coordinator for WildSafe BC, Oscar White, gave a summary of the 2020 season and provided information with a PowerPoint presentation on how Rossland can move toward becoming a provincially certified Bear Smart community – so far, there are only eight in BC. The first step would be an assessment to determine what further action would be most effective; Moore asked what the assessment would cost the City, and White responded that it would likely be about $6,000.  Moore explained that Council would not make a decision on the matter at this meeting.

Referrals from prior meetings, petitions and delegations:

The Council materials include the full-text letter from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to the Rossland Taxpayers Federation, in response to their petition calling for a referendum on the Midtown Transition Project.  The letter explains that there is no reason at law to hold a referendum, and that if one were held, it would not be binding on council.

Moore noted that some citizens had approached Council members again to repeat the request for a referendum or public-opinion poll on the proposed new City Hall, and Council discussed it. Each councillor spoke, and explained why they did not support having a referendum.  A common theme was that Council has been very deeply involved in the research and studies,  is very well acquainted with all the information relevant to the project, and bears the responsibility for the decision; that most of the voting population is not as well-informed on it, and some seem to be citing hearsay “from someone who might have seen something once,” and that the councillors prefer to deal with expert advice based on what is known, rather than opinions based on rumours and hearsay; another was that the project is not “a done deal” and will not go ahead if the cost is too high or other conditions aren’t right.  

Policy Review:

       Road, Sidewalk and Stair Snow Removal Policy (referred from previous meeting):  A proposed amendment removes the former s. 4(b) and replaces it with a new s. 4(g).  The old 4(b) read as follows:

Residents are to avoid parking their vehicles on streets, alleys and laneways during the City’s snow clearing program and are requested to move any vehicle to an alternate location (driveway, etc.), when/where possible. The City is not responsible for any damage to private vehicles related to annual snow clearing operations when vehicles clearly impede snow clearing operations and/or is located on public property.”

The new s. 4(g) states, “Winter on-street parking regulations are in effect from November 1 to April 30 of each year as per the City’s Traffic & Highways Bylaw No. 2689, 2019 items 7.2 through 7.6 regarding winter residential on-street parking and permits.” 

For the convenience of readers, we reproduce those sections here:

     7.2:    A person must not place/store any snow, slush, ice, or other obstruction, either shoveled, swept or pushed from private property, land or driveways/accesses onto the travel portion of any cleared road, alley, lane, sidewalk or public use corridor unless previously approved by the Public Works Department.

     7.3:     From November 1st to April 30th of each year, a person must not park on any street within the Red Mountain Resort area between the hours of 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

     7.4:     From November 1st to April 30th of each year, vehicles parked on streets within all residential zones must be moved every 24 hours as to not obstruct the City’s snow clearing operation on residential streets during winter months.

     7.5:     From November 1st to April 30th of each year On-street parking is prohibited from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in residential areas.

     7.6:     Providing application is made by the resident of a residential dwelling unit which: i. has no off-street parking; or ii. abuts on a highway with time restricted parking; TWO complimentary parking permits per single-family dwelling may be issued for the designated block at or near where the applicant resides.

A motion accepting the policy with the proposed amendment CARRIED unanimously.  

       Information to the Media HR-10:   A  motion to approve the policy as presented CARRIED unanimously.

       Community Contributor Award:  A motion to approve the policy as presented CARRIED unanimously, and Moore expressed hope that people would submit nominations for the award.  Community members can nominate other individuals for this honour using the  online nomination form.  Nominations must be complete by October 31. 

Bylaws:

Official Community Plan (OCP) Amendment Bylaw # 2736 – 2207 Columbia Avenue: 

The owner is applying to have the zoning changed from commercial (C-1) back to residential with one suite (R-1 Infill).  A motion to give the bylaw first and second readings, and to schedule a public hearing for October 5, 2020, CARRIED unanimously.

Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2733 –  chickens and chicken coops:

The proposed amendments to the zoning bylaw would specifically allow keeping chicken hens (as distinguished from pea hens, guinea hens, and so on, and excluding roosters) in residential areas of Rossland, on lots with single-family dwellings and duplexes, and would impose regulations for purposes of hygiene, noise control, aesthetics and so on. Council discussed the proposed restrictions and some suggestions from the Sustainability Commission.

A motion to give the proposed bylaw first reading CARRIED.

Councillors then proposed and approved two amendments.   The first one changed the allowed height of a chicken coop from two metres to two and a half metres; they felt two metres did not allow enough room for people to enter and clean the coops, for chickens to be happy, and for the use of deep bedding in the coops.  The second amendment allows chicken coops and runs to be located in front yards, not just back yards.  Council discussed a proposal to require coops to be electrified, but that one was defeated.

A motion to give second reading to the amended bylaw CARRIED, as did a further motion setting a Public Hearing for October 5, 2020.

Transfer Reserve funds under Bylaw 2310 to the Regional Sewer Utility Reserve Fund:

A motion to  “direct staff to transfer the $197,234 December 31st, 2020 balance allocated as a Development Cost Charge for financial purposes, but under Bylaw 2310 (2012) was specifically for a RDKB Sewer Service Cost Recovery and repealed under Bylaw 2525 (2012), to the Regional Sewer Utility Reserve Fund,” CARRIED unanimously.

Staff Reports and Updates:

Rossland Curling Society Lease Agreement 2020 to 2022:   Council discussed the proposed rate increase, and agreed with the 5% increase for the coming year, but some expressed doubt that the 2% increase for the following year would provide enough revenue; the motion as proposed was DEFEATED.

Council passed an amendment to the proposed motion, so that it approved the amount for the coming year, but leaves the amount to be charged for the year following to be reconsidered and negotiated; the amended motion CARRIED.

b) Rossland Public Library Operating Agreement Renewal:  A  motion to approve the Draft 2019-2024 COR-Rossland Public Library Lease Agreement CARRIED.

c) Golden Bear Children’s Centre Lease :  A motion toapprove the Rossland Childcare Society’s lease agreement for a term of five (5) years as presented CARRIED.

Red Mountain Resorts:  North Portal Access Road

Council discussed a Memorandum of Understanding between the City and RED for design, future construction, operation and maintenance of the proposed North Portal Access Road.  The road would join Highway 3-B to the north of the existing speed limit change, which would be moved further north, and angle across the hillside, following an old road, to a new parking area to the west of Phil Johnson’s gravel pit, to access the new Topping chairlift. RED has applied to the Crown for a Licence of Occupation for the project, and the MOU with the City is key to its completion.

A motion to approve the MOU CARRIED unanimously.

By-election coming up, finally:

The Council materials included correspondence from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, including the original cancellation of by-elections scheduled for earlier this year and the recent correspondence setting out requirements for holding a by-election.  In preparation for Rossland’s by-election, expected be held on November 28 for one council member, Council passed motions appointing election officials;  Cynthia Añonuevo as Chief Election Officer, and Kristi Calder as Deputy Chief election Officer for this by-election.  (See separate news item for more details.)

Development Variance Permit Application – 1650 Kootenay Avenue

The homeowner applied for a variance allowing a double carport to be built within .3 metre  (one foot) of the front property line – without a variance, only a single carport or garage qualifies for that small front setback. In this case, the proposal would not result in inadequate snow storage or interference with sight-lines.

A motion to allow the variance CARRIED unanimously.

Signage for “Stoked Float”

The Design Review Panel recommended approval of the signage, and a motion to approve it CARRIED unanimously.

Utility Water Leak Adjustment Credit Program for 2020:

A motion to approve the program CARRIED.  It allows residents to apply for a credit for excess water usage caused by a leak (for example, a leaking tap, toilet or irrigation system) if they repair the leak within a reasonable time after discovering it through the “Eye on Water” app. The intent is to encourage users to sign up for the app, and to detect and repair water leakage.  So far, Hamming reported, only 52 users have signed up.

City Hall – a second e-bike 

Council considered a request to dedicate approximately $4000 of Climate Action Reserve Funds to purchase a second e-bike for staff use for work purposes, specifically Building Inspection, and to get a mountain bike, making it more versatile – capable of travelling rougher roads.  Staff reported that the  first e-bike has been very well used, reducing fossil fuel use and reducing demand on the regular fleet.  A motion to approve the request CARRIED unanimously.

Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program Grant Applications:

After considering and discussing the staff recommendations, Council passed a motion to request staff to apply for a grant for the Second Avenue Infrastructure Renewal Project in the amount of $2,981,800, with the City contributing a further $400,000; and a further motion to apply for a grant in the amount of  $1,470,000, with the City providing $730,000 from internal/external sources. The grants are in different funding streams, so won’t be competing against each other.

Reports:  Council perused the following:

1. Building Permit Inspection Activity for 2020

2. August 2020 Building Permit Report

3. Step Code Update 2020

4. August 2020 Public Works Report

5. Water Production 2012 - 2020

6. August 2020 Bylaw Enforcement Report

7. Updated Task List

Requests arising from correspondence:

a)   Kootenay Festival of the Arts Request; a motion to approve being a sponsor organization for Kootenay Festival of the Arts in order to facilitate the 2021 festival CARRIED.

b)   Outdoor Movie Screening Request for Jubilee Field; a motion to approve the request to hold a fundraising event (movie) for the Rossland Society for Environmental Action (RSEA) September 24, 2020 (and 25th if necessary) CARRIED.

c)   Rossland Museum Artisan Market Request; a motion to approve the request for the Rossland Museum Artisan Market on September 26th and 27th, 2020, CARRIED.

d)   CBT Strategic Plan letter from Mayor Moore, emphasizing the extreme importance of acting to curb climate change and incorporating that as a priority in the CBT strategic plan; a motion to approve submitting the letter to CBT CARRIED unanimously.

Member Reports (selected highlights only):

Nightingale proposed a motion directing staff to determine the fixed costs for installing and removing the arena ice, and the weekly fixed cost and variable costs to maintain the ice over the season.  Her reasoning was that the information would help determine whether the City saves (or loses) money by shortening the ice season; “If we can’t measure it, we can’t manage it,” she stated.   The motion CARRIED.

Spooner moved that Council write a letter to the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, supporting the 14 old growth forest recommendations recently released, and applauding the report “A New Future for Old Forests.”   The motion CARRIED.

Moore reported on her many meetings, and registered approval of the Province’s plan to allow municipalities to go ahead with their own bylaws banning single-use plastics.  She said the Mid-town Transition project committee is working on the project tender, which they expect to put out in January; any earlier would risk delays and increasing costs by having work begin in inclement weather.

Moore also reported that the “100% Renewable” (draft) plan is nearly complete; nine communities held a virtual meeting on it, and public input will be invited when the draft plan is released.  She warned that implementing the commitment to rely on 100% renewable energy by 2050 is “a big job, and even the plan that will be put forward will not get us all the way there. More work and new technologies will be required.”

Moore emphasized that she hopes the City receives some nominations for the Community Contributor Award by the deadline of October 31, and wants people to begin thinking about the upcoming by-election – and about being nominated as candidates. (Nominations for the by-election cancelled by the Province earlier this year are no longer valid; candidates must re-register if they wish to stand for election.)

Council then closed the public portion of the meeting and recessed to an in camera session, and your reporter strapped on her industrial-quality P-100 respirator and strolled home on legs wobbly and feeble from lack of exercise – what with COVID-19 precautionary isolation and having been confined to the house for at least two full days by dense wildfire smoke. And maybe some laziness, too.