Candidate Questions 9: How can we make Rossland attractive to both young families and seniors?
One of the perenniel issues we face here in the Mountain Kingdom is population. Not over-population, but underpopulation. If we want to keep our schools open, our tax base viable, and our community programs and services viable, we need a certain minimum population–a numbr that always seems to be defined as ‘a few more than we have at the moment’. With this in mind, we asked the candidates the following question: “At one end of the demographic spectrum, Rossland would like to attract more young families. On the other end, Rossland would like to keep its seniors in town and involved. How should Rossland meet the needs of both ends?”
SHARON WIEDER: Focus on intergenerational learning and interaction. Rossland’s academy model is a great platform to showcase alternative methods of instruction. With all the new families moving into town, build on this to provide them options for the future as well as attract people from other places. Make it easy for the two groups to work together for support and recreation and economics through planning policies and OCP language. These groups interact a lot already so build on what they are currently doing
DAVID KLEIN: I believe Rossland is doing a good job meeting the needs of both ends; however, there is always room for improvement. They have kept taxes from rising too much comparatively to other BC municipalities. I do think more work needs to be done on housing for seniors as their demands change, as they are an important part of what makes a great and diverse community. We have rallied around our school, which seems to have force the school district to keep K-12 in Rossland, which is a great thing for attracting families.
KATHY MOORE: By keeping K-12 in town and by insuring we have adequate daycare opportunities we can support young families. I think we need to encourage the development of some more seniors’ housing in town. Perhaps a public private partnership would work. If we could reach an agreement with Trail concerning the Aquatic Centre we could support both groups (and the rest of Rossland’s swimmers). I’d also like to encourage both young family members and seniors to make their concerns known to city hall and play an active role. The city can more readily support these groups if we know what their needs are. We need to do what we can to keep taxes manageable- this will help Rosslanders regardless of age or family status but we have to be realistic- most of our tax revenue comes from residential properties. We don’t have large businesses to tax, nor do we have the land available to attract any large industry. Unless people tell city hall they want a serious reduction in services, we will be faced with paying higher taxes than our neighbors.
JODY BLOMME: I definitely think it is very important to keep the Rossland seniors in town and involved. They are the reason Rossland is such an excellent place to live today; they made it this way. The stories they have about Rossland as it used to be are really incredible and makes one wish Rossland could still be as they experienced it. Incidentally, I think it is important that Council hear their stories to help understand how things used to be, why they are the way they are now, and, from these, develop an idea of what could be. In order to attract young families, it is imperative that the schools stay. To whatever extent Council has control over this, they need to make it happen. There is a lack of seniors’ housing in town, and if Council and/or the community could kick-start some sort of project or campaign to attract investment into the creation of more seniors’ housing, then seniors’ houses would be freed up for the young families.
LAURIE CHARLTON: For the younger end of the spectrum the answer is primarily jobs. The jobs do not necessarily have to be in Rossland. They can be in the local area and people can commute. If jobs are available to attract young families, then reasonable tax rates and real estate prices that are competitive with other local communities will draw people to Rossland to take advantage of the outdoor opportunities available close at hand. At the other end of the spectrum, seniors will stay in town if there is affordable housing available and easy access to services in the downtown core. In most cases for seniors living in their own homes, the access will be by car. If there is little or no convenient parking available in the downtown area as a result of the proposed changes along Columbia Ave., seniors will continue to look at other opportunities in neighbouring communities and Rossland will have lost a great asset. I think the city should also be looking at using some of it’s properties in the downtown area to construct, in partnership with other agencies, affordable housing for seniors. Esling Park Lodge was such an attempt but ended up being unaffordable by many. Housing, within easy, level walking distance of the main shopping area and services would be a great attraction for seniors.
KATHY WALLACE: Keep our option of K-12 education within the community, maintain support for affordable childcare, continue the discussions and initiatives around affordable housing and consider more seniors’s housing projects.