COUNCIL MISCELLANY: Dogs on leash and a Post Office on probation...
Below we review key information discussed by council at the Monday evening regular meeting, including the new animal bylaw, a forthcoming grant application for broadband internet, the mysterious federal plan to downsize Canada Post, and other miscellany.
Separate articles detail the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture (RCAC) plans to renovate the Miners’ Hall, council’s debate regarding a potential $100,000 expenditure on street furniture, and the Neighbourhood of Learning’s presentation to council on the survey of Rosslanders’ willingness to pay additional taxes to ensure K-12 remains in the community.
Coun. Jill Spearn was absent from the meeting.
New animal control bylaw now in effect
Council adopted the new animal bylaw that they have discussed since the bulk of downtown renovations were completed last fall. The major change is that dogs will now be allowed downtown if they are both attended and on a leash—tying dogs to a post remains illegal, but previously dogs were, in theory, entirely excluded from downtown.
Otherwise, the bylaw is largely unchanged and the city’s contracted “poundkeeper” is still the SPCA in Trail.
Coun. Tim Thatcher, who was absent from the regular meeting two weeks ago for first, second, and third readings, voted against adopting the bylaw.
Referring to plans to enforce the new leash law strictly, Coun. Kathy Wallace asked, “We’re adopting it tonight, but when does it actually go into enforcement?”
“Right now,” Deputy CAO Tracey Butler replied. She added that the city will issue warnings for a short period until the city announces the change in a newsletter, and new signs and dog-bag-dispensers are installed.
Coun. Kathy Moore asked about a price tag of roughly $2500 for three dog-bag dispensers, but Butler clarified that this will be the cost for both signage and dispensers. Mayor Greg Granstrom added that high quality, expensive stainless steel dispensers are required so they are weatherproof and vandal-proof.
Broadband still on the agenda
Coun. Jody Blomme asked for and received council’s blessing for the broadband task force to apply for a SIDIT (Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust) grant on behalf of the city to fund the future high-speed fiber-optic internet network that council has already agreed to move towards, at least for the downtown core.
Blomme said the task force will do all the work. “No staff time will be involved except to answer questions, give information, and review the final grant.”
Rural BC rubbed the wrong way
Coun. Kathy Wallace recommended reading a recent report by the “Rural BC Project” of the Omineca Coalition on the rural-urban divide in the province. The project describes itself as “an initiative to stimulate discussion and understanding of the challenges facing rural BC and the actions required to help rural BC communities succeed.”
Wallace said the report gives a detailed history of rural issues and the rural-urban divide, and “presents an argument to the province why we must start taking care of rural portions of the province.”
Ski race leaves town flush with cash
Coun. Kathy Moore noted a report by Tourism Rossland that the recent U-16 ski race at Red Mountain attracted several hundred competitors and their friends and family to town for nearly a week, injecting between $300,000 and $400,000 into Rossland’s economy.
CAO seen about town
Moore sent kudos the way of CAO Cecile Arnott, who she recently spotted at a community concert—the first time Moore ever recalls seeing a CAO out and about in Rossland’s social scene.
“It was so nice to see our CAO out at a community concert,” Moore said.
Mayor Greg Granstrom joked, “What was she doing there? She was supposed to be working!”
Post offices face federal crunch
A letter from MP Alex Atamanenko on Feb. 18 alerted council about a recent Canada Post decision to review every post office across Canada “in an effort to move towards a ‘new smaller retail model.'”
Atamanenko warned that such changes could result in declining levels of service, forcing people to use private sector outlets “where they are available,” and further lowering Canada Post revenues. He noted that areas such as the Southern Interior are often “sparsely populated” and these options are not always easily available.
“It is my view that cuts to public serves affect rural and remote areas more severely than in larger communities because there are fewer alternatives available,” he said.
For now, however, it appears the cuts are focused on urban post offices. Rossland’s post office is included in the “moratorium list” of rural post offices, for which the moratorium is on closure.
Nevertheless, Coun. Cary Fisher contended, “They’re going to re-examine all the ones on the moratorium list.”
The Conservative government reports that Canada Post revenues have dipped by as much as 20 per cent since 2007.
Coun. Tim Thatcher asked what was meant by a “smaller retail model.” “Are they downsizing the sizes of desk? Closing the whole building? Hopefully they’re not going to close our historic post office,” he said.
Coun. Kathy Moore asked if it was time to write a letter in support of the post office, but city staff suggested more information will be forthcoming.
Deputy CAO Tracey Butler said, “The information in the council package is everything we could get. We tried to get more, but we couldn’t get much.” Council had directed staff to assemble this information at the last council meeting.
The post office section of council’s information packet is attached below and includes Atamanenko’s letter to council, a resolution and a newsletter from the union of postal workers, an exchange in parliament between Atamanenko and Conservative MP Steven Fletcher, and Rossland’s page in the moratorium list.