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Short term rental rules, knotweed bylaw, a paramedic for Rossland, National Championships here in March

Public Hearing: 6:00 pm, Tuesday, October 10, 2017

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

This Public Hearing was scheduled to receive public input on  the following draft bylaws:

a)      Business Licence Bylaw No. 2326, 2017, and

b)      Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 2633, 2017(2) which both deal with Short Tem Rentals in Rossland.

c)      Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 2634, 2017(2)  re the former Seven Summits Centre for Learning location;  and

d)      Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 2635, 2017(3) -- to change it from Public Institution to Multiple Family residential zoning.

Short Term Rentals ― the new rules, and enforcement

An employee of Mountain Town properties asked whether there would be any enforcement of the bylaws being read this evening;  CAO Bryan Teasdale explained that the bylaw would not be in effect until January 1, 2018; and then, if a property is known to be non-compliant and is notified, and takes no steps to become compliant, the bylaw will be enforced. If a property owner takes timely steps to become compliant, the City will allow her or him a "grace period" to complete that process. 

Moore commented that "we want to work with people" to let them know the new rules in good time, and make compliance easy.  She also pointed out that Rossland now has some enforcement capacity.

Cosbey mentioned the software the City plans to purchase, to identify non-compliant owners.

Short-term rentals at Red and Redstone NOT exempt from licensing requirements

Asked whether the short-term rental landlords at Redstone and Red Mountain base area will need business licenses too, Moore and Teasdale responded that yes, all short-term rental properties must be licensed.   Moore explained that the City will be actively communicating the rules to landlords and the public generally.  

If you use a management company, you still need a business license.

Another resident asked whether short-term rental  landlords will need business licenses of their own even if their property is managed by a management company.  Moore replied that, yes, all short-term rental landlords will need to get business licenses; the rental business is a separate business from the management company's business and must be licensed separately.  The landlords must each be licensed and registered.   Moore pointed out that the price of a business license is being reduced from $200 per year to $125.

The Public  Hearing adjourned at 6:10 pm, and was immediately followed by:

Regular Rossland City Council Meeting

 Public Input Period:  Robert Strachan spoke for the Rossland Skatepark Association and reported on progress.   The bowl section is nearly complete, though there are still some sections of concrete to be poured, and he noted that people are ducking through the fence already, which is a liability concern, as it is still an active construction site.  He stated that some of the specialized trades workers commented that "this is a $500,00 to $600,000 park that's being built for under $300,000." The south-east corner will be a "simple section."  There will be berms for noise abatement, and some money has been set aside for landscaping for next year.

Kruysse asked who will manage the facility; answer ― the City.

Delegation:  Andras Lucaks for Tourism Rossland, reporting on the 2016 Resort Municipality Initiative, and TR's vision, and progress during 2016 - 2017.

2016 was a record year for the accommodators who contribute to Tourism Rossland. Use of the Spokane Shuttle was up 27% from  the previous year (2015), but 2015 was a bad snow year;  last year Tourism Rossland subsidized the service by $6,957.

No one knows whether the RMI initiative will continue after 2017/2018, though Moore pointed out that the Minister at the UBCM seemed enthusiastic about it, and Moore felt hopeful after meeting with her.

Council Decisions on Staff Recommendations:

Appointment of Auditor:  A motion to appoint Berg Lehmann Chartered Accountants to audit the City's financial statements for the years 2017 to 2021 CARRIED unanimously.

Tax Roll adjustment:  a motion to remove the taxes charged on a mobile home which  no longer exists, and for which there is no possibility of collection, from Rossland's  tax roll and to submit requests to other taxing authorities for repayment of funds submitted for the property, CARRIED unanimously.

Seniors' Centre Façade Restoration Project: a motion to award the contract for this project to DJM Construction in the amount of $98,400 plus taxes CARRIED unanimously.

Kruysse was not happy with the contract clause that specified "no responsibility for latent defects." Albo noted that the City had done some investigation of the structure in advance.  The work is postponed until spring of 2018. Morel asked whether there is any concern about leaving the old facade exposed over the winter; Albo said, no. 

2017 Corporate Management Work Plan – Q3 Progress Report, Chief Administrative Officer:  Moore thanked Teasdale and CFO Elma Hamming for their work on this, and rejoiced in the progress being made.

City of Trail's withdrawal from the Kootenay- Boundary East End Economic Development Services:  The EEEDS was established in 2009, with the communities of Trail, Rossland, Warfield, Montrose, Fruitvale, and Areas  A and B of the Regional District all participating.  Trail has applied to withdraw from the service, and two-thirds of the participants must agree to Trail's withdrawal.  A motion for Rossland to consent to Trail's withdrawal from the service CARRIED unanimously. Moore and Cosbey noted that this was a "housekeeping" item.

Food Primary Liquor License for the Josie Hotel:  A motion to recommend that the Josie Hotel be issued the license CARRIED unanimously.  

Late application for Revitalization Tax Exemption Applications:  A motion that Council "refrain from accepting" late applications for revitalization tax exemptions CARRIED unanimously.

2017 Paving Program:  A motion to award a contract to Selkirk Paving in the amount of $102,360 for the remainder of the 2017 paving program, for parts of Jubilee Street, Dunn Crescent/Columbia Avenue, Thompson Avenue/Davis Street, and First Avenue/St. Paul Street , plus a "daily patching" rate and asphalt cost CARRIED unanimously.

Knotweed control recommendations:

A motion that the City collaborate with the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society  for advice and education on knotweed control, move forward with draft bylaw #2637 for controlling knotweed on private property,  budget $10,000 in 2018 for knotweed control, and provide an incentive program for residents to claim 50% of the costs of herbicide treatment  up to a maximum grant of $400, for knotweed control on private property, CARRIED unanimously.

Discussion; Greene noted that his property appears to be identified as a Knotweed location; how does he find out where it is?  Answer:  talk to CKISS. 

Cosbey said,  "That outreach component is so important.  We should have a brochure in hand to give out to every affected landowner. Is there funding for that? "  Lightbourne noted that CKISS is not sure how much time and funding will be available; but Moore commented that the City can do a lot of outreach.  

Editor's note: The Rossland Telegraph published an article on invasive species, especially Japanese Knotweed, in early August of 2015. Nearly 7,500 people read it, and yet knotweed and other invasive weeds have continued to take over our local ecology.  To review that article, click hereFor a map showing known knotweed infestations, check the Council materials for this meeting.

Bylaws:

Four motions ― to give Business License Bylaw #2326, Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2633, OCP amendment Bylaw #2634, and Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2635  third reading ― all passed unanimously.  

About the Short-term Rental Bylaw (2633):  At the end of October, public education will begin about short-term rentals.  On January 1 the bylaw will take effect,  but there will be a "grace period" for accommodators who take steps to comply; those who do not work toward compliance in a timely way will be subject to enforcement  measures. 

Zwicker said that the maximum number of short-term rental properties would be around 150 if one were licensed for each block of the city, and that seems like too many for Rossland. He suggested that the maximum number should be 5% of the  number of houses in town, which would reduce the maximum  number to  about 80 as things are now, and would allow it to grow with the number of homes in town.  City Planner Stacey Lightbourne suggested that it could be given effect as a policy rather than as part of the zoning bylaw.

Zwicker  moved that the City develop a policy of limiting the density of short-term rentals to one per block, to a maximum of 5% of the total number of homes; the motion CARRIED.

Noxious Weed Control Bylaw #2637:  A motion to give the bylaw first and second readings CARRIED unanimously.   Council expressed appreciation for Lightbourne's work on this.

The bylaw is, at this time, directed at controlling knotweed.  It  requires every property owner in Rossland to keep her or his property clear of knotweed, and allows an enforcement officer to enter on anyone's property  "at all reasonable times" to check for knotweed, and to give a property owner notice that knotweed is on the property, and serve notice that the knotweed must be eradicated within a certain time.   It also authorizes the City to take steps to eradicate knotweed on the property of anyone who fails to do so within the time allowed after being given notice, and to charge the costs to the property owner.

Updates and Reports:

 Zwicker reported that the Solar Now initiative cannot proceed on the Library, because the roof structure is not even up to current building code requirements. The Museum may be a possibility; it has good exposure, and there is the required information on the roof.  He hopes to have more information in time for the next Council meeting.

Albo provided a Spokane Street Project update; he said it's at about 85% completion. Pavers are booked for end of this week  and the project is still on budget.  LeRoi  Avenue is still closed because railing is still being installed, some filling is still to be done, and the stairs still need to be connected.

He noted that there is no good excuse for parking on the sidewalk, even though it isn't yet officially open.

Water use report: a lot of water has been used this year; it was the hottest summer on record.  Cosbey noted that water consumption itself is not a problem unless we run short, or unless  it results in higher sewage flows down the hill, which cost the City more money.

Information Items:

The  Heritage Commission has had the Oregon grape (a harmless native plant) in the old Columbia Cemetery sprayed with herbicide at a cost of $3,500 and was planning to do it again next year. Council asked staff to let them know this is not allowed.

Motorized recreation:  in response to correspondence with a resident about motorized use, specifically of the South Side road and the new Fortis road on Granite Mountain, Cosbey suggested that the City could develop a master plan with input from all user groups.  We want to end illegal motorized use of trails; Cosbey noted that he agrees with staff that the South Side Road and the Fortis road on Granite are not  "trails"; and he expressed sympathy for the sentiment expressed in the letter ― he does  not want to see more motorized use.

The Sustainability Commission (SC) has done a review of the Strategic Sustainability Plan.  Zwicker suggested that Council schedule a  Committee of the Whole meeting  for a presentation  and discussion.

Cannabis Act discussion paper:  this is an opportunity for Council input into provincial policy or regulation.  Moore suggested that Council respond to the paper in a letter.

Cosbey noted that  there were a lot of questions raised, and input must be in by November 1st.  Moore will send out an e-mail to Council members seeking their ideas.  McLellan suggested confining Rossland's response to the major points raised in the paper.

A Paramedic for Rossland: BC Emergency Health Services has announced that some communities will have a part-time paramedic, and Rossland is one of the lucky communities selected.  Our paramedic is David Wolfe, and he started a 14-week orientation program in July.  He'll begin work on October 23.  

Members' Reports ― a few select notes:

Greene announced that the 2018 Canadian National Championships will be held at Red, March 21st to 24th. He said there will be over 500 attendees, with the opening ceremonies in downtown Rossland, with a parade, food vendors and live music.  Greene also noted that 2018 marks a number of anniversaries of events at Red Mountain:  the 50th anniversary of World Cup Race in Canada, held at Red, the 30th anniversary of the second World Cup event held at Red, the 70th anniversary of the opening of the first chairlift on Red, and the 120th anniversary of the first Canadian Championships at Red. Congratulations to Red on its long and remarkable history.

McLellan went to the Regional District board meeting;  Mark Andison is the CAO of the RDKB, after John McLean's resignation.  McLellan also commented on attending the UBCM; he found it an eye-opening experience, and  thinks every Councillor should go at least once, and that mayors and CAOs should go every year.

Moore spoke on a number of items, and commented that all the leaders of all three of BC's political parties with sitting MLAs addressed the UBCM, with an emphasis on co-operation and collaboration ― instead of just trying to compete and, she said,  "trash each other, which is what they've done all the other years I've been there. So I think it helps that the election was close, because now they all need each other to get anything done."

Declassified in camera  matters:  a resolution approving the hiring of a manager of recreation and events, and retention of a recreation co-ordinator.

The meeting adjourned, and your weary reporter lugged her ancient laptop home again along the new sidewalk down the LeRoi hill, noting that there was no need to use a flashlight or headlamp ― the street lighting was adequate and being on the sidewalk felt so much safer than scuttling down the shoulder of the road used to feel.