Rural stuff: thinning trees, collecting garbage, making snow, breathing smoke!
For Rossland City Council Meeting held November 10, 2014. Present: Mayor Greg Granstrom, and Councillors Cary Fisher, Kathy Moore, Tim Thatcher, Jill Spearn, and (by telephone) Jody Blomme.
Public Input Period:
Christine Anderson of the Red Mountain Racers spoke to thank Council for their support of the snow-making project, and reported that the snow-making machines had been turned on at 4:00 that afternoon. She noted that teams from BC, the United States, and Australia are booked.
RCMP Detachment Commander Sergeant Darren Oelke spoke about the City of Rossland crime statistics for the first half of 2014. He noted that the murder of Tom Feeney in June is not included in those statistics because it was committed outside the Rossland city limits, but that the investigation is ongoing and active. There was one sexual assault reported in the first half of 2014, one break-and-enter, one theft of a motor vehicle, and 24 instances of “theft, mischief, and possession of stolen property”. There were 2 “drug offences”. Overall, considering the crime statistics from 2011 to the present, Oelke said the numbers were “on par” or slightly down.
Council considered a Development Permit application, to thin trees in the Caldera subdivision to create viewscapes and increase light penetration. Staff recommended approving the application, subject to the usual conditions: measures taken for sedimentation prevention, drainage and erosion control plans, storm water management and habitat management as outlined in the Official Community Plan, and retention of an environmental monitor to ensure best practices are implemented. Also, no new stream crossings; 7.5 meter “no disturbance” zone on each side of the three streams; minimal disturbance of the ground and prompt revegetation; refueling at least 30 meters away from any streams; and a spill kit kept on site. The motion to approve the permit carried.
Council moved on to solid waste disposal, also known as garbage collection. Davies Sales and Service is willing to extend their contract for another two years at the current rate. Staff recommended publishing a Notice of Intent to extend the Davies contract, and if any objection is received from a business that can meet the requirements of the contract, then a Request for Proposals will be issued. The motion carried.
Council considered the financial report. Fisher asked whether the City might end up with a larger surplus at the end of the year than budgeted, because of some “big-ticket” items that could not be completed. Hunter acknowledged that it’s possible, but that there are still some large expenses to come in before the end of the year. Moore suggested that a line could be added regarding specific projects to indicate the percentage completed to date, which would assist Council in understanding the City’s progress and the budget information. Fisher commented that Council could find a way of explaining to taxpayers that a “surplus” is not actually “surplus to requirements” but needed for funding capital projects in the future, and what those will be. Spearn noted that Winter Carnival exceeded their budget (budget: $9,500; actually spent: $17,054) and suggested that needs to be better controlled. Moore noted that there was confusion about the amount budgeted for the Senior’s Centre — that it was for work done by the City, not a cash grant for the seniors to spend on the centre. Spearn also noted that the bylaw enforcement line was somewhat under-spent, and thought our bylaw enforcement should be “out there” more.
Council discussed a 3-year snow removal contract for sidewalks, awarded to LaFace Contracting. Moore noted that some business owners are not aware of their obligation to clear ice and snow from the sidewalks adjacent to their places of business. The contractor is required to plow sidewalks only after large snowfalls, under Rossland’s policy.
Granstrom spoke about the amendments to the East End Economic Development Service Bylaw; the term of the agreement is now three years instead of five years, the board will now consist of “non-elected” members, and the cost apportionment per community has been changed from a 50% population and 50% property assessment formula, to 100% property assessment formula. Moore noted that this benefits Rossland. The motion to approve the changes carried.
Council then rapidly approved a motion to adopt Bylaw 2578, enabling a resident to purchase a portion of a road allowance.
Bylaw 2579, the Financial Plan Amending Bylaw, was next up. Moore noted that it brings our current plan into compliance, and wondered whether it would be better to amend the plan for each occasion when the City must depart from it — as we all know, the plans we make seldom turn out exactly as we had hoped — rather than saving up a number changes from plan into an omnibus amendment toward the end of the year. Hunter responded that if there were a significant change, she would recommend making an amendment for it at the time. For small items, she thinks it better to save them up, but acknowledged that amendments could be done more often. Fisher wondered whether it would help to have a template for financial plan amendments, that could be “plugged in” whenever Council makes a resolution deviating from the financial plan, to avoid the work of saving up many changes into one amendment bylaw. Hunter responded that a quarterly plan might work. The motion to give the bylaw first and second reading carried.
Moore reported that she had toured the inner offices of the Museum, and was impressed with the amount of material in the collections. She said that the new manager “has her work cut out for her.”
Thatcher commented that the road is very rough where the new water lines for the snow-making operation were installed, and thought it should be repaired sooner rather than later.
Spearn commented that the all-candidates forum at the Miners Hall was well-attended and lively.
Blomme expressed thanks to the Rotary Club for hosting the all-candidates event.
Granstrom then adjourned the meeting to an in camera session, to discuss the “acquisition, disposition, or expropriation of land or improvements.” And your reporter walked home in the clear, crisp night, very relieved that those dense, choking clouds of slash-burning smoke had finally drifted off to afflict some other segment of the population. For information on the health effects of breathing wood smoke, whether from slash fires or from your neighbours’ stoves, here is one source and here is another!