Council's swansong

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
November 26th, 2014

Meeting of outgoing Council, held November 24, 2014.

Present:  Outgoing mayor Greg Granstrom; outgoing councillors Jill Spearn, Kathy Moore, and Jody Blomme.

Public Input Period:

Fletcher Quince thanked Council for their time and dedication over the past three years, acknowledged that he is “not always the easiest person” and explained that he has found the lack of discussion with Council frustrating at times.  Granstrom commented that he doesn’t know of any council member who has not been available to talk with citizens, and that people can sign up to appear as a “delegation” which allows for questions and answers.

Sarah Taylor informed Council that she is currently “in the process of purchasing” the Rotary Health building, but is not in a position to complete the execution of documents this Friday as scheduled.  She wishes to re-negotiate some of the  terms of the Food Bank’s continued occupation of the building after the purchase.  Spearn asked what it was Taylor wanted;  Taylor explained that she didn’t want to make either the Food Bank or the Search and Rescue group “homeless during the winter” so had agreed to April 1 as possession date.  Then she was asked to allow the Food Bank to remain until the end of June;  she could see them moving into the basement, to allow her to begin renovating the upstairs, but otherwise she would have difficulty working in the space as the Food Bank occupies much of the main floor .  Granstrom responded that “there were conditions on the sale … that you agreed to, correct?” Taylor agreed.  Granstrom stated that there is more than one offer on the building.  Butler noted that further discussion on this sale was scheduled for the in camera  session following the public portion of the meeting.

Council Business:

Staff recommended that Council apply to the Supreme  Court for an order of substituted service on the owners of five properties in the Tax Sale of  September 29th, 2014.  The registered owner of the properties is a dissolved company (0809276BC), and the City has been able to locate only one of the owners of the dissolved company and to notify him by registered letter.  A lawyer’s letter included in the Council materials stated that a financial institution “appears to be owed a significant amount of money with respect to the properties” but the amount owing was not disclosed.  The properties are worth around $680,000 in total,  without accounting for the debt.  The lawyer noted it is very likely that the financial institution will redeem the properties by the deadline of September 28, 2015.   The motion to apply for an order of substituted service carried unanimously.

Information Items:  

A motion to “receive and act as recommended upon information items 20(a) to 20(j), except items numbered (e), (f), (g), and (h)”  carried.  The exceptions are the items that councillors asked to discuss.

Item (e) was a letter informing the City that the Youth Action Network (YAN) will receive a grant of $15,000 from Columbia Basin  Trust;  Moore suggested a letter of congratulation go to the YAN, for the success of their past programs as well as this grant.  Granstrom noted that Moore will be able to sign one.

Item (f)  was a letter from outgoing Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs on the issue of recreation funding for  facilities in Trail.  Bogs referred to Trail’s “one-time grant funding to the Trail Commercial Hockey League and the Greater Trail Stingrays Swim Club, in order to sustain their operations” and declared that “this funding — which offsets fees rightfully payable by Rossland participants — is not defensible in the long term.”   Bogs invited Rossland to “recommence negotiations on recreation funding.”    Spearn commented that it was good to see that the door was open to further negotiation, and she hopes for a positive outcome within Rossland’s means.  Granstrom commented that it was important to note that Bogs’s letter made it clear that Rossland would not be “getting it for free”.  Granstrom further stated that the Trail Aquatic Centre “runs a deficit of $1,250 every day” and that “the Trail Memorial Centre runs a deficit every day of $4000.”  He indicated that he can’t understand why Trail would want to discourage people from patronizing their facilities, and that he welcomes the invitation to resume negotiations.  He suggested that modifying the current Rossland program to further support residents’ use of the Trail facilities would make more sense than sending $200,000 to Trail for that purpose.

Item (g)  was the minutes of the Sustainability Commission (SC) meeting of October 8, and  Spearn said that she hopes in future committees and commissions can get their minutes to Council in a more timely manner; and she asked what the “Rossland Society for Environmental Action” (RSEA) is.  Moore responded that RSEA is a new society, formed about a year ago, with related interests but not connected with the Sustainability Commission.  Moore also noted that the SC no longer has its own employee, and that City staff do the SC minutes as they have time available.

Item (h):  Moore noted that the minutes of the Heritage Commission meeting of November 3 record a suggestion that the Heritage Commission and the Design Review Panel meet with the new Rossland City Council to “discuss the intent section of the Design Review Guidelines.”  Moore suggested that it be added to the staff action list to set up a meeting; Butler said it is already on the list.

The Chamber of Commerce had sent the City a letter requesting some services for “Rekindle the Spirit of Christmas” on December 6,  including the presence of the Mayor when the Christmas tree is lit. Moore asked what time the tree will be lit, but Blomme felt uncomfortable discussing anything related to any Chamber of Commerce item, lest she be accused of conflict of interest.  Others pointed out that no decision was being made, so conflict of interest was  not an issue, but she declined to disclose what time the Christmas tree would be lit.   Granstrom noted that Moore would receive notification in time to attend.

A motion to give third reading to Bylaw 2579, the Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw, carried unanimously.

Member Reports:

Granstrom spoke about the stellar job Rossland City staff member Laurie Karn did for the “Secret Investor” program, and had a card of appreciation for signatures. Granstrom will be attending one  more Regional District meeting, on November 27th, as the “new crew” will not be sworn in yet and Moore (the alternate) will not be in town.    Moore thanked Granstrom for his attendance there.

Moore also spoke about Laurie Karn’s excellent performance for the “Secret Investor” program, and listed the range of information she had provided to those inquiring.  Laurie was the only staff person singled out for praise in the report on the initiative, which extended from Fruitvale to Rossland.   Moore then thanked the outgoing Council members for their contributions over the past three years.

Spearn reflected on the outgoing Council’s accomplishments during its term: the arena upgrade, the downtown revitalization project, and holding tax increases at “zero percent, apart from the cost of the downtown” project.  She regretted that only the problems, not the accomplishments, were a focus of the media during the pre-election period. She hoped that the next Council will find the work as rewarding, and be as willing to dedicate their time to it.  She thanked City staff for their work in moving Rossland forward.

Blomme also thanked our “good, good-natured, and highly experienced staff” and her colleagues.

Granstrom then adjourned the meeting to an in camera session, under Community Charter sections 90 (1) (e) — litigation — and (g) — disposition of City property.   And your reporter shuffled home in the  lovely swirling snowfall, thinking of places to go on snowshoes, soon … and in the morning, enjoyed shoveling its eight-inch depth for about an hour and a half.  Er … 20-centimetre.

Categories: General

Other News Stories