Date set for upcoming by-election; Community Fruit Press; Plastics Recycling Project; shelter for Garry Camozzi; short-term rental situation unfair?
Councillors Present: Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Dirk Lewis, Chris Bowman, Stewart Spooner, Andy Morel, and Janice Nightingale.
Adoption of Minutes – including adoption of Committee minutes and the resolutions, or recommendations, they contain; this batch included two notable items from the Sustainability Commission (SC): (a) a resolution that “the Sustainability Commission is supporting the expansion of fall fruit recovery and processing by providing a fruit press for the community to borrow.” The fruit press will be added to the Rossland Public Library’s “thingery” collection of items available to borrow; (b) a set of resolutions creating a “workplan category called “community sustainability project” to support projects that contribute to community sustainability,” and declaring the Community Plastic Recycling Facility Project a community sustainability project, with a $500 contribution from the SC budget.
1. Greater Trail Community Skills Centre – Morag Carter and Jan Morton presented an informative update on the multi-pronged “Thriving For All” poverty reduction strategy, accompanied by a 41-page PowerPoint presentation, and requested Council to approve the strategy as Rossland’s official approach to poverty reduction.
One of the proposals included in the strategy is to “develop and promote a Community Access Card that demonstrates eligibility by lower income households and individuals to barrier free access to recreation, arts, culture, transportation and other programs and services.”
The strategy focuses on five broad areas: housing, food security, access to community services, access to learning and development, and a vibrant, inclusive economy. Carter and Morton present figures demonstrating the large economic costs of poverty.
A motion to approve the Thriving For All: Lower Columbia Poverty Reduction Plan (2017) strategy as Rossland’s official poverty reduction strategy, and to provide a letter of support for an application for funding through the UBCM Poverty Reduction Planning & Action Program to support this important work, CARRIED unanimously.
2. Keegan Taylor, Rossland Summit School and Holly Borwick, Youth Action Network – sought Council’s approval for a dedicated “graffiti and art wall” near the Youth Space, specifically the wall(s) of an unused City-owned building there, as well as funding in the amount of $250 for initial supplies of paint, face masks and so on. Moore cautioned them that eventual further developments may make the building and its walls unavailable at some point, and explained that a decision will be made at the next regular Council meeting.
1. Building Bylaw #2716
A motion to give second and third readings to the comprehensive, 47-page new Building Bylaw, with two minor amendments since first reading, CARRIED.
2. Zoning Bylaw #2719
A motion to give first and second readings to a bylaw re-zoning 1280 Queen Street to allow for short-term rental of a guest suite CARRIED.
Council reviewed and re-confirmed the Employee service and Innovation Reward Policy.
Discussion of the Short-Term Rental Accommodations Policy resulted in expressions by several councillors that there is some inequity between residential home-owners with short-term rental zoning and commercial accommodators, and a motion to ask Staff to investigate the possibility of ways of making things more fair CARRIED. One suggestion was that short-term rentals should be required to pay the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT). Another was that residences with a separate “dwelling unit” – a suite – used for short-term rentals should have the suite taxed as a business property (Class 6 – Business and Other.)
Lewis asked if it would be better for all applications for re-zoning for short-term rental to have one intake in a year; a ripple of consternation passed through the room at the thought of dealing with a large number of re-zoning applications all at once, and the idea may or may not re-surface at some point.
Council next reviewed and approved two amended policies, the Rossland Recreation Instructor Payment Policy, amended to allow for the possibility of payment for preparation time; and the Recreation Bursary Policy, amended to base assessment criteria on the most up-to-date Low-Income Measure determined by Statistics Canada, to standardize distribution of funding.
Staff Reports and Updates:
Staff recommended that Council approve an application for a Temporary Use Permit to allow a 10’ x 28’ trailer to be parked for this winter season at 1933 Cliff Street, for Garry Camozzi’s accommodation, as no other place for it could be found before the winter snows set in. A motion to approve the application CARRIED unanimously, with several expressions of support from council members, and from the gallery. Bowman commented that he has never seen Garry Camozzi look so happy.
City of Rossland By-election: The City is required by law – Section 54 of the Local Government Act -- to hold a by-election for a council member to replace Scott Forsyth, following his recent resignation. Motions to appoint Alison Worsfold as the Chief election Officer, and Cynthia Añonuevo as the Deputy Chief election Officer, “with power to appoint other election officials as required for the administration and conduct of the by-election” both CARRIED unanimously.
The by-election will be held on Saturday, April 4,2020, at the Miners Hall, with opportunities for advance voting at City Hall on Thursday, March 25, and Wednesday, April 1.
The by-election’s cost to taxpayers will not be known until after the election. The cost of the full municipal election in 2018 was approximately $12,000, but the City expects to be able to effect some savings over those costs. The staff report notes that expenses of the upcoming by-election are not included in the draft 2020 budget and will have to be recovered either by taxation or by reducing other City services or programs.
Moore expressed her thanks for Forsyth’s time on Council, and she emphasized that she and other Council members had worked to encourage him to remain but fully understood his decision to resign.
Council then reviewed Staff reports on the City’s monthly expenses, Public Works, Water Consumption, the By-law Enforcement Officer, Building Permits for December 2019, and the updated Task List.
Highlights from Member Reports:
Lewis reported that the proposed e-bike trail to Trail now has a name: South Kootenay Green Link. Others noted that in common usage, that will likely be shortened to “Green Link.” He also reported that the Library is looking to provide a wall displaying local artists’ work, and that the Energy Task Force of the Sustainability Commission is hoping to hold a talk (tentatively called the "energy talks") on March 4th, with Kelly St. John giving an update on solar in our city, and the owner of a Passive Haus sharing her experience so far.
Bowman reported on the Heritage Commission. Two more designated buildings with “statements of significance” will provide Rossland with a rare “streetscape” of heritage buildings.
Morel reported on the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) meetings. The RDKB has maps showing 50 patches of significant old-growth forest in the Area B/Old Glory area, but they are fragmented and not protected. Comments on provincial forestry policy in general: lack of community input, lack of protection for old growth forest, lack of protection of forest values beyond commercial logging interests; concerns about maintaining healthy and diverse ecosystems, water retention and utilization values, climate change concerns, recreational, social and historical values. This input has been passed on to the provincial old-growth consultants.
He also reported that the McKelvey Creek Waste Transfer Station in Trail will require substantial investment in upgrades.
Moore reported that there will be a ceremony on March 6 to mark the federal designation of the Miners Hall as an historic building, with a plaque unveiling and a small reception in the Lily May room.
She also reported on the changes in Council liaison positions following Scott Forsyth’s resignation. Moore will be stepping down from the Recreation Task Force and filling in Forsyth’s former position as liaison with Tourism Rossland. Forsyth’s position as alternate liaison for the Sustainability Commission will not be filled at this time.
Moore also reminded everyone of the Discover Rossland event on Feb 4, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Miners Hall. “Please invite everyone you know to come. Over 30 groups will be represented.”
Moore asked for a motion to extend by three months the time for the Recreation Task Force to complete its tasks; the motion was proposed and CARRIED.
Moore adjourned the meeting, and your reporter put her mini-crampons back on and crunched home on the ice, contemplating the importance of old-growth forests, and the inadequacy of BC’s forestry policies, legislation, regulations, and enforcement, and the rapid decline in the number of surviving species – but hoping all that will be improved enough to make a real difference.