More on sewage! And tendering. And a chance to speak up on funding issues on April 2.

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
March 27th, 2014

In my last column, I reported that Council had set the date for the legally required public consultation on the budget.  That date is April 2, at City Hall, at 7:00 P.M. Why should you go?  — If you have a strong opinion about any of the budget decisions made by Council, that’s the time to let them know.  Will it make a difference?  That might depend on the number of people who express the same opinion.  If it’s just me, or you, we can’t expect our ideas to prevail.  But if there were 60 or a hundred people with the same reasoned opinion about the same thing, that might be different.  How many people normally show up?  Oh, maybe half a dozen or so.  You could change that, if you were interested.

Council meeting, March 24, 2014:

A delegation from “Carbon Neutral Kootenays” presented information with a Power-Point presentation.  Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are ongoing, and include initiatives such as driver training for greater fuel efficiency.

Council then got down to business, and passed a motion to amend the Official Community Plan (OCP) by removing a proposed collector road from the plan, because  steep terrain made it impractical to build, development of nearby properties can be serviced by existing roads, and building it would have significantly increased the costs of installing shallow services.

Council reviewed a number of information items, including the minutes from the last Sustainability Commission meeting.  The minutes included information on the success of the “Free Bus”, and talked about the number of “people” the bus had carried; for clarity, Councillor Jody Blomme objected to the use of the term “people” rather than “fares”, as the same person could travel more than once in a day and should count as the number of rides taken.  Councillor Kathy Wallace noted that we couldn’t call them “fares” when we collect no fare, and suggested using the term “rides” instead.  Blomme’s motion to clarity the terminology passed with that amendment.

Councillor Kathy Moore then moved that Rossland pay $500 to take part as a “tier one” sponsor of the “Work West Kootenay” project of the Lower Columbia Community Development Team, to show support for our regional partners and to participate in another form of outreach to attract residents.  The motion was defeated, after considerable discussion about how people come to live and work in Rossland, about the value of the project’s website, and the funding already available to the project from other sources.

Then Council discussed the “inflow and infiltration” problem.  No matter how Rossland’s sewage is treated, or where, the cost of treatment is increased by having storm-water (rain, snow-melt, run-off)  added to the sewage.  Formerly, storm-water was normally directed into the sewer, but the City has been making efforts to keep storm-water out of the sewage system, in order to keep costs of sewage treatment as low as possible.  Many old buildings in town still have roof drains that flow into the sewer system, and the vents in man-hole covers over the sewers let a lot of storm-water run into the sewers; the vents also prevent a dangerous build-up of potentially explosive sewer gas.  Councillor Cary Fisher moved that Manager of Public Works Darrin Albo provide Council with a brief, bullet-point plan for addressing the “i&i” problem.  The motion carried. 

Still on the sewage theme, Council  approved a letter to the Ministry of Environment explaining Rossland’s request for an extensive re-working of the Stage 2 Liquid Waste Management Plan and the significant changes that now render the current state of the plan unacceptable for Rossland.  

Infrastructure!   That means stuff like streets, sewers, water reservoirs and water treatment, culverts, water pipes, sidewalks and covered stairways, street lighting and so on.    All so necessary for our comfort and convenience, but so many people do hate to pay taxes for installing and maintaining it.  We’d much rather it all appeared as if by magic, at no cost.  Most communities in Canada (and elsewhere) have failing infrastructure that needs replacing, and Rossland is no exception.   Since we can’t replace it all at once, our Manager of Public Works prioritizes projects.   Infrastructure replacement for Spokane Street, between First Avenue and  Columbia Avenue, requires an engineering study.   Staff asked Council to approve awarding the engineering contract to ISL Engineering.  Moore moved that the engineering contract (for $19,000) be put to tender.  Darrin Albo explained that our short construction season would be mostly used up by that process.  Moore’s motion was defeated, but Fisher noted that he would support requiring the main project to be tendered when that comes up.

The tendering issuecame up again with the draft agreement proposed by ISL Engineering for contract, on-call engineering services for the City.   Moore expressed once again her disappointment that her motion to put that opportunity out to tender had failed, and then addressed portions of the draft agreement.  Among other things, she objected to ISL’s proposed charge for disbursements (out-of-pocket expenses);  besides their professional fees, ISL proposes to charge the City not only the actual cost of their disbursements, but also a 10% surcharge in addition.   Moore moved that the City put out a Request For Proposals (RFP).  Mayor Granstrom objected that Council had already passed a motion to sole-source the service and could not reconsider it; after a procedural debate, Council decided that a motion to reconsider would be in order, so Moore moved to reconsider the decision to sole-source the on-call engineering service; the motion passed.   The actual reconsideration will take place at a future meeting.

Wallace provided a detailed oral report on Regional District matters.

Moore reported a citizen complaint about illegal parking, dogs, and trash; the citizen thought that a visible bylaw enforcement presence would help.   Blomme suggested that our bylaw enforcement officer be issued a vest labelled “Bylaw Officer”.

The mayor reported that the Royal Mint is planning to mint a loonie in honour of Kimberly Joines, and then adjourned the meeting to an in camera session. 

Your reporter’s  shoes crunched all the way home on sand and gravel-covered pavement.

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