A bare quorum and a lot of details...

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
September 12th, 2014

Rossland City Council met on Monday evening, September 8. There was bare quorum, with Mayor Greg Granstrom and Council members Jody Blomme, Kathy Moore (by speakerphone), and Jill Spearn in attendance.

Staff present were: Corporate Officer Tracey Butler, Executive Assistant Cynthia Anonuevo, Acting Financial Officer Lois Hunter, and Planner Stacey Lightbourne.

Public Input Period: Eric Hill spoke, explaining that the 15 Rossland residents currently in the Trail commercial hockey league must each pay a $250 fee for a Trail Recreational Pass, and another $250 in fees for the hockey league, and are finding it difficult to afford the total fees of $500 per player. Hill recognized that Rossland’s policy of providing assistance for the use of Trail’s recreational facilities is limited to those under 18 or over 55, or with certain challenges, and noted that the hockey players don’t qualify; but he asked if Council could consider helping with the costs if, after looking after eligible persons, there was “anything left in that pot.” Granstrom indicated that the added costs are “a huge problem”, and staff will consider Hill’s request.

An item regarding the Chamber of Commerce was removed from the Council agenda, as Blomme would be in a conflict of interest for that item and Council would lose quorum for it.

Granstrom announced that nomination packages are now available for City Council positions and also for School Trustee positions.

There were no scheduled delegations, so Council moved directly to approving two variance applications.

1830 Fourth Avenue: a variance is required before the owner can add a second storey to the home, because the building already encroaches on required set-backs. The owner needs more space in his home because he recently married and now has a family of six. The proposed second storey would not exceed the height allowance, and the application was approved.

2425 LeRoi Avenue: a variance was requested for a double-width driveway — 8 meters instead of 4 — to accommodate more parking on the property instead of along the street. The driveway has already been constructed because of timing issues with the contractor, and the owner was aware that if the variance was not granted, the work would have to be removed; however, Council was persuaded that getting more parking off the street justified the variance. It was approved, on the condition that a 3-meter snow storage right-of-way be granted to the City.

After some discussion, Council granted a Development Permit for 3975 Red Mountain Road, subject to a set of conditions imposed by the City for sedimentation prevention, drainage and erosion control, environmental preservation and geo-technical requirements. Moore queried what the future plans are for the property; Granstrom reminded her that any future plans must come to Council for approval and are not relevant to this application.

Permissive tax exemptions: One question came up about the Jehovah’s Witness Hall application for property tax exemption. Spearn and Moore both questioned whether or not the building is actually being used, as they were under the impression that it was simply sitting vacant. The legislation allowing such buildings to be granted tax exemptions is worded as follows:

(Community Charter, Section 220:)

(h) a building set apart for public worship, and the land on which the building stands, if title to the land is registered in the name of

(i)   the religious organization using the building,

(ii)   trustees for the use of that organization, or

(iii)  a religious organization granting a lease of the building and land to be used solely for public worship;


Moore moved that if the building is not being used “solely for public worship”, the tax exemption be denied. Butler looked up the application and noted a statement on it that the building is being used for “group sessions and bible discussions.” The motion was defeated.

The motion to grant the list of tax exemptions carried.

Reserve Fund Policy and Reserve Fund Bylaw: Prepared by Acting CFO Lois Hunter, the Reserve and Surplus Policy and Reserve Fund Bylaw and Reserve Fund Transfer Bylaw were intended to comply with recommendations made by Berg Lehmann, the City auditor. Moore warmly praised Hunter for her work, and Spearn added, “Ditto!” Council passed a motion adopting the reserve fund policy, then passed a motion that the Transfer Reserve Fund Bylaw be given first reading, and passed another motion that the Reserve Fund Bylaw be given first reading.

Staff proposed a recommendation that Council renew the lease for Ilo’s Playschool at the same rate, $350 per month, for the next year with an option to renew for a further year. Spearn indicated that she thought the City should increase the rent to match the cost of living increase. Moore said she thought the City should not be supporting a private business “in competition with other day-cares.” Butler pointed out that Ilos’ is not a “day-care” but a pre-school, with a morning session of classes and an afternoon session with different children, and is not in competition with other day-cares. Ilo’s occupies about 400 square feet of the basement in the Miners Hall, and the rental income is used to offset the energy costs of the Miners Hall. Spearn recognized the value to our community of having early childhood education available here, but still thought the City should increase the rent. Moore agreed that the City should get a small increase each year, and did not agree that a pre-school, or play-school, is different from a day-care. Spearn said that both her children attended Ilo’s and that anyone who has had experience with Ilo’s has nothing but praise for it, and that it is definitely not a day-care but a school. On the motion to renew Ilo’s lease at $350 per month, only Granstrom voted in favour; motion defeated. Moore made a motion to renew the lease for another year, with an option to renew for a further year, with an increase of 3% for each year. Blomme seconded, and the motion carried.

(At one point, Granstrom commented that it was difficult to run a meeting with someone on the phone because it is harder for the phone attendee to keep up with what is going on in the room; Spearn responded that the problem wasn’t so much someone attending by phone, but rather how many Council members were absent.)

Engineering contract: The City had put out to tender a contract for “as and when” engineering services for the City, as the City no longer has an in-house engineer. (Rossland’s former City Engineer, Mike Thomas, was laid off and is now the City Engineer for Revelstoke.) The City received six proposals, and graded them according to a template, by a committee of staff plus one Council member. ISL Engineering was the winning firm. Spearn commented that she thought the grading system could be improved, and offered to help set up a better system. Moore thought that just looking at the grading sheets didn’t give a clear indications of why ISL was clearly better than the other applicants and wished that staff had summarized why ISL was chosen over the others. Butler indicated that it was simply because ISL’s total scores were higher on each of the grading sheets, though there were differences in how each evaluator graded them. Granstrom commented that this is “normal procedure.” The motion to confirm ISL as the winning contractor carried.

Curling Rink Lease: The Rossland Curling Association had requested a lease with a five-year term, and annual rent increases of 1%. Their contract runs from October 21 to September 30, so a new contract is needed promptly. After discussion, Spearn proposed a motion for a two-year lease and a 2% annual rent increase. (Moore suggested three years at 3% increase, not having heard Spearn’s motion.) Spearn did not wish to bind the next Councils with a five-year agreement, and Granstrom noted that the shorter term would enable negotiations at any time. Hunter clarified some of the operating expenses of the rink. Granstrom noted that the Curling Association puts money back into the City facility. Spearn’s motion carried, with Moore opposed.

Rossland Museum: Staff presented a draft operating agreement for the museum; Moore noted that the agreement allows the museum to retain revenues from museum admissions, but does not mention any other fundraising activities the museum may engage in such as holding musical events or other entertainments on museum grounds. She suggested that an additional clause would enable the museum to retain revenues from other such activities. Granstrom stated that if the museum wished to hold such fundraisers, it could seek permission from the City for each one.

Council also discussed:

  • a draft statutory right of way agreement with the Province for road crossings of the City’s water lines to access forestry operations on Crown land, and steps to be taken to protect the water .lines;

  • a lengthy letter from the lawyer for the Rossland Seniors Housing Society answering questions about why the City’s resolution on repayment of the City’s loan to the Rossland Seniors Housing Society could not be implemented by the Society; Moore objected to the fact that the City had sought answers from the Society’s lawyer rather than the City’s lawyer; Butler responded that the City’s lawyer had concurred with the answers given, but Council was not shown any communication on that from the City’s lawyer ;

  • the year-to-date financial reports submitted by Acting CFO Hunter. The reports were appreciated by Council, and praised for their clarity.

Council members then gave their oral members’ reports, and Granstrom adjourned the meeting to an in camera session to discuss labour relations. Your reporter packed up and walked home, noting that for the first time in several months it was dark enough by 9:00 in the evening to see stars in the sky, and admiring some clouds spectacularly illuminated by a full moon.

Categories: GeneralPolitics

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