Legislating design; the high cost of flushing all that stuff down the pipes

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
June 11th, 2014

Public Hearing and Council Meeting, June 9, 2014

Present:  Mayor Greg Granstrom,  and Councillors Jody Blomme, Tim Thatcher, Jill Spearn, and Kathy Moore.

The Public Hearing was to allow members of the public to voice opinions about the Form and Character Guidelines for Multiple-family  Dwellings.   Cezary Ksiazek  spoke against the guidelines, saying they are unnecessary and will increase the cost of construction and the cost of such dwellings, and make Rossland less affordable.

After the Public Hearing, the regular Council meeting opened with Public Input Period.

Andrew Zwicker and his wife Kelly Mclean spoke to Council about a bill they had received for $428 for a City crew after-hours “call-out” that they had not requested.  They had called just to put in a request for information from someone at the City, but instead a City crew was called out after-hours and the City sent them a bill for it.  They are asking that the bill be waived.

A young man who forgot to give his name spoke to let Council know that people will be working on the Rossglen bike park, and that it will be for beginner to intermediate riders, safer for children than the advanced bike skills park at Centennial.

Amber Hayes asked if there is a new plan or map for the Rossland broadband project, as she is often asked about it.


Tara Howse presented “Women Creating Change“, a project of Trail FAIR and the Skills Centre, designed to increase economic opportunities for women.  Facts presented included:  Women are not a minority — 51% of the population in this region is female;  but, less than half of the women in this region earn $24,000 a year or more, while over three-quarters of the men earn more than $24,000 a year.  Women hold 30% of the engineering and architecture degrees in this region, but only 5% of those jobs.  If you know a woman earning $50,000 a year or  more, she is one of only 16% of women in the region who do.  For every male single parent in this region, there are three female single parents.   The project will work with local organizations and businesses to develop policies and plans to encourage non-traditional employment for women, and to make education and training more accessible to women living at or below the “living wage”.    Howse  pointed out that, though the project is about improving opportunities for women, it is really about all of us — improving life for everyone.

That Wetland Project

Council then briefly considered the request for a letter of support, and access to some staff time, for a feasibility study for a wetland restoration project at the north end of Jubilee Park.  The  motion carried with no discussion.

Variance Applications

Council then very quickly approved variance applications for three properties, with minimal discussion:  one for 2544 Columbia Avenue to reduce the front setback;  one for 2080 Monte Christo Street to reduce the set-backs for the front and both sides of the property; and one for 2421 Fourth Avenue to decrease the front set-back and increase the allowed driveway width, with the condition that a 3-metre wide snow-storage right-of-way is granted to the City along Fourth Avenue.

Spearn commented that when the City grants a variance to allow a property owner to build a garage, it is to get parking off the streets — and that it would be a good thing if the City could ensure that the garages thus enabled were actually used as garages, instead of being put to other uses while vehicles remain parked on the streets impeding snowplows and other traffic. 

Banners at Red Mountain

Council looked at a request from Tourism Rossland to purchase “banner arms” — the supports for decorative banners — a few that were never installed, and to replace those that have been stolen or vandalized.  The item was  not included in the City’s budget.  Spearn made the motion for the purchase, but it was not seconded, and so failed.

Evergreen Ridge subdivision

Council received a report with updated information.  The City approved the Evergreen Ridge subdivision in August of 2008, imposing various requirements — including dedicating 5% of the land as park, dedicating and constructing “pedestrian linkages” throughout the site, dedicating trails as suggested by the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society, and constructing and installing “all infrastructure elements to City standards.”  The original developer went bankrupt in 2012, leaving necessary work undone.  The City holds a covenant registered against part of the site under Section 219 of the Land Title Act.  This covenant provides that if the owner failed to complete the required work in a timely fashion, the City can complete the work and bill the owner; then, if the owner does not pay, the City can charge the outstanding amount to the tax bill; and may then acquire the property if the tax bill remains unpaid.   Last year, the City did drainage work and removed dangerous trees.  This year, the City has work scheduled to complete a number of the other deficiencies.

Too much service!

Andrew Zwicker and Kelly Mclean had submitted a formal request in writing to waive that call-out bill they spoke to during the Public Input Period.  Their request was very well documented.   Granstrom said he thought the problem was inadequate communication and requested a motion to waive the bill.  Blomme felt sorry that the couple went to so much effort to document their request; Spearn thought the City needs guidelines for staff about when to ask people to sign for a call-out, because once they sign, they will get a bill from the City.  The motion to waive the bill passed unanimously.

Multiple-family “Form and Character” Guidelines

Council discussed Official Community Plan Bylaw 2566, to impose guidelines for the design and appearance of multi-family dwellings in Rossland.  Council had received information from a resident on the hazards of vinyl siding, but Thatcher said that asphalt shingles off-gas too, and there is already so much plastic in houses that vinyl siding hardly makes any difference.  Spearn said, “the more restrictions we place, the harder it all gets.”   Blomme wanted to remove all references to colour from the bylaw, because colour and variety make Rossland more attractive, and “it’s silly to make everything match the landscape.”  Corporate Officer Tracey Butler said that if any changes were made to the bylaw, the City would have to begin the entire process all over again — notice, public consultation, and public hearing.   Blomme stated that when she had asked when to request a change in the bylaw, she was told to do it at this meeting, but it obviously wasn’t going to work to do it now.  

Council voted on a motion to give third and final reading to Bylaw 2566.  Carried, with Blomme opposed. 

Council then voted on a motion to adopt Bylaw 2566.  Carried, with Blomme opposed.

Members’ Reports

Moore attended the successful Non-Profit Collaboration Night, and wishes to attend the Rural Summit.

Blomme reported that there is no new plan or map for Rossland’s broadband project, but that Council is “very close” to getting more information from the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation, possibly this week. 

Thatcher announced that the Museum will be holding an evening of local music on July 17, and a “Where the Wild Things Are” event on August 13.

Granstrom reported on the Regional District’s problem of getting the sewage pipe across the Columbia River.   It currently crosses the river via the “Old Bridge” in Trail.  However, that bridge is now closed to all traffic because it has been condemned as unsafe, and a new route for the sewer pipe is necessary.   The Regional District (RD) has been assessing options; in  2011-2012, they were given a cost estimate of approximately  $2.2 million for a “pipe bridge” — for the sewer pipe alone, with no other permitted use — no pedestrian use, for example.   Early this year, the estimate had risen to approximately $4.5 million, and at the most recent meeting, a  more detailed estimate vetted by two engineering firms came in at $7.4 million.  Now, the RD has asked staff to re-think other options and the costs of each.   Watch this space …

Council then adjourned the public portion of the meeting and recessed to an in camera  session to discuss litigation.

Your reporter walked home under a blue sky and a big moon, wondering where the strong stench — as of burning brake pads — was coming from. It lasted all the way home.  Was it really brake pads?  Or was someone making nasty toxic fumes by burning prohibited substances?   We can add that to the very long list of things that most of us will never know.

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