Extra protection for Topping Creek, a bonus quarter million bucks for the city and financial books that check out
Riparian setbacks for Topping Creek increased
Topping Creek, one of Rossland’s primary contributors to our drinking water supply gained an extra level of protection this week. Council passed third reading and adoption of an amendment to the Official Community Plan which will extend the riparian zone setback on Topping Creek to 30 meters from 15 meters.
Under the new amended OCP section 33 “Development Permit 2, Environmental Protection Guidelines” no residential or commercial building or structure shall be constructed, reconstructed , moved or extended nor shall any mobile home or unit, modular home or structure be located within 30 metres of either edge of Topping Creek.
There were several exceptions added to the rule however as Topping Creek runs through or very near the development at the base of Red Mountain as well as the Rhino’s Run and Grey Mountain skiing areas within Red Mountain Resorts tenure.
Ski lift towers and ski operations’ accessory buildings and structures (i.e. lift shacks), not including mechanical repair facilities, may appear the 30-metre setback but only if they are in compliance with provincial and federal regulations.
“I’m really glad to see we are at this point,” commented Councilor Moore. “I’m really glad to see added security for source protection for the community. I would hope that once we get this added protection on our portion of the creek we can work collaboratively with the Regional District as well. It’s nothing particularly groundbreaking that we’re doing here. In many parts of province 30 m is already required particularly on fish bearing creeks.”
Annual City audit
The City’s financial records have been approved as being in order this week by the City Auditor Berg Naqvi Lehmann. Each year as set out in the Community Charter the city must prepare financial statements after December 3rd. Those statements prepared by the City’s financial officer Deb Tim are then audited before being accepted by City Council and forwarded on to the provincial inspector of Municipalities prior to May 1st each year.
By all accounts, this year’s financial records were impeccable as Amanda Kramer noted “To compliment your staff (the financial statements) are very conscientious. We had to rack our brains to try and come up with something wrong. They (City Staff) are very quick to respond to anything we discuss.”
One question posed to the auditors by Councilor Kathy Moore, looking for their opinion was how healthy the City’s reserves appeared to them.
While the auditor noted that of course that a healthy reserve is relative to a municipality’s plans he did mention that “it looks very healthy when you look at that much money sitting around.” He then cautioned that “Everything is relative. They city first says. These are our needs, this is our infrastructure, this is when we need the money and how will we get there. What are your requirements and do you have enough money to do it.”
The City has recently undergone completed an infrastructure report which is the first part of that equation. The auditor suggested that what the city needs now is an asset management plan to outline how, when, how much it will cost and where the money will come from to replace that infrastructure over time.
One additional new item this year that comes under new standards developed for municipal auditing is that once the auditor signs off on the report and it is accepted by council, it will now be up to council to review the statements and report with city management. Previously the auditor would review the report with management after council signed off on it. This creates an expanded role for councilors which could get tricky as the micro-managing staff has been a sensitive issue through the lifespan of the current council.
The Auditor, without explaining the full process before council recommended a strategic planning session for council to perhaps bring in an expert to explain and teach council how to fulfill their new enhanced duties without micro-managing staff.
Extra dollars for Rossland through Community Investment Fund
Roughly an extra $41,000 will be flowing in Rossland City coffers this year as part of the provincial Strategic Community Investment program over last year’s contribution.
The program, launched in 2009 is an initiative designed to provide local communities with increased financial certainly in uncertain economic times. It was done through a restructuring of current provincial/local government funding arrangements. In total $60 million dollars is being spread around the various municipalities of the province in 2011. $30 million of that money is from the traffic fine revenue sharing program that helps municipalities enhance policing and community-based public safety programs and the other $30 million is for Small Community and regional district Grants, supporting local governments to province services in areas with small tax bases.
Last year Rossland received just over $209,000. This year the City is to receive $250,538 coming entirely from the Small Communities grants. $0 came from the traffic fines pot as Rossland has not issued traffic fines for nearly a decade.
The money is not earmarked for any particular project and will go into the City’s general revenue fund.