Esling Park responds; Council acts on the AGLG report
April 12, 2014: At 5:00 pm the City held a public meeting to explain the new proposed design guidelines for multi-family dwellings, and to accept public input. The guidelines will apply to any dwelling with two or more main living units — in other words, duplexes will have to comply, but not “single-residence” homes with secondary suites. Only two residents attended, and one of them suggested that vinyl siding ought to be prohibited for safety and health reasons, and that the colour guidelines should not be interpreted to prohibit the use of white roofs (they are the most energy-efficient in hot weather) or red roofs (they are not only attractive but also an iconic part of Rossland).
At 7:00. the regular Council meeting began with a public hearing on the Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2567, which will increase the permitted size of secondary suites. The gallery was overflowing, but no one spoke to the bylaw.
Public Input Period
The public was generous with input. One resident explained to Council that it would be helpful to have a place where clippings and trimmings could be deposited legally.
Then Bill Profili spoke to a letter from the Rossland Seniors Housing Society in response to the City’s request that the Society begin making payments of interest and principal on the $270,000 remaining unpaid of the $450,000 the City originally loaned to the Society during the construction of Esling Park Lodge. The board of directors of the Society is proposing that the City accept interest of 2.2% on the loan for the next five years, and that after five years the Society would begin to make payments on the principal as well.
Rachel Roussin introduced to Council the concept of re-building the wetland at the north end of Jubilee Park, and promised to be back in two weeks with more details. Meanwhile, there will be an open house on May 24th at the Seven Summits Centre for Learning (old Parish Hall) where the public will be welcome to attend and learn about wetland reconstruction.
Patricia Marshall Thompson spoke to Council about affordable housing units that the Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society hopes to acquire in Rossland, and requested that Council consider including those units in the permissive tax exemption so they can remain affordable.
Several citizens were present to support an extension of time for the Rossland Skatepark Association to raise funds and begin construction.
Deanne Steven presented information to Council about the highly successful Free Ride shuttle service, which provided 19,391 rides last season. According to her information, Rossland’s accommodation revenues have never been higher, and many visitors considered the free shuttle an important part of their decision to visit Rossland instead of another resort. Drunk driving offences are also down since the shuttle service began. Tourism Rossland would like to purchase a bus for the service, using Resort Municipality Initiative funds that come to Rossland and must be used for infrastructure to serve tourism.
Amy Short appeared on behalf of the Sustainability Commission’s “Innovative Education Task Force” and its new project — the “Monashee Institute”, an “educational epicentre” to offer courses and workshops in a wide variety of subjects, from permaculture to fine arts and writing to eco-tourism to mountain biking, and more. The aim is to attract people to Rossland, both to visit and to live, and to increase Rossland’s resilience as a community. There will be an open house at the Rossland Gallery on May 21 at 6:00 pm.
Council reconsidered the motion to put out to tender any contract for engineering services on an “as and when” basis. The motion had originally been defeated at the February 24 meeting, but a motion to reconsider it passed unanimously at the March 24 meeting. Council reversed its original position and the motioncarried.
Council unanimously passed a motion to approve the financial statements — subject to amendments to correct errors regarding the Council decision about the Esling Park Lodge loan.
Council considered the application for a variance to allow the construction of a garage with a suite above it on the site of an existing suite and carport. The owner at 913 Earl Street wants to exceed the height allowance by 2.6 metres. Councillor Moore declared a conflict of interest and withdrew from the meeting (she was attending by telephone). A neighbouring owner objected to the application, and the motion failed; Mayor Granstrom and Councillor Fisher voted in favour of it, Councillors Spearn and Thatcher voted against it.
Council discussed a motion to “recommend to Regional District of Kootenay Boundary approval of the new RDKB Area “B” zoning bylaw, with the exception of Comprehensive Development Zone 1 — Findlay Creek Ranch” because of concerns about sprawl in the Findlay Creek Ranch area, and the impacts on Rossland’s infrastructure, with “no offsetting revenue base”. Council adopted the planning department’s suggestions to the RDKB about conditions that should be applied to development in that area. The motion passed unanimously.
The Gold Fever Follieshave requested to use the Miners Union Hall free of charge for 2014; Council considered a motion to allow their free use of the hall for 2014 and for staff to negotiate a fee for 2015 and 2016. All Councillors agreed that the Follies are very worthy of assistance, but Fisher and Moore thought that they could afford to pay a token amount for the hall to assist the City with the expense of maintenance. The motion carried.
Council voted unanimously in favour of a motion to allow the Rossland Public Library to renovate the interior of the building.
On a roll, Council also voted unanimously in favour of a motion allowing the Rossland Skatepark Association an additional two years (until December 2016) to complete their fundraising efforts. Smiles bloomed in the gallery.
Council discussed a staff recommendation for an agreement for “reciprocal use of facilities” with the Seven Summits Centre for Learning, which needs space for recreational activities. The Recreation Department noted that the Learning Centre’s space would be better for some City activities that currently use the arena lounge. Granstrom and Fisher spoke against the motion, citing the fact that “we pay school taxes”; Spearn clarified that children in our public schools do not pay for the use of the arena either. Spearn made a motion to refer the matter back to staff for more detailed information. Her motion to refer carried.
Council discussed the motion to include 2 or 3 (planned) low-cost housing units in Rossland within the permissive tax exemption. The Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society has very strict standards on financial need. Moore noted that people eligible for low-cost housing often work in the hospitality industry, and that these people are important to Rossland. Granstrom and Fisher spoke against the motion — Granstrom thought the need was not that great, and that Rossland would be giving up significant revenue. The motion carried, with Granstrom and Fisher opposed.
And about that AGLG report …
Moore suggested that Council include monthly reports on progress on the City’s action plan from the Auditor General for Local Government report. Fisher suggested that Council strike a committee, chaired by Moore, to work with staff and other councillors and to report back to Council on progress on the action plan; this might ease the burden on staff, and Council would take more ownership of the process. When asked, Acting CAO Tracey Butler agreed this plan could work well. Fisher then converted the idea into a motion, which carried unanimously. Moore agreed to set things up by email.
After more input from Council members under “member reports”, the meeting was adjourned to an in camera session to discuss labour relations (s. 90(1)(c) of the Community Charter).
And your reporter strolled home by the light of a bright moon, enjoying a few stars, the clear sky, and the scent of new-born leaves.