Openness is now 'default mode' as new council takes on their inaugural meeting
For Inaugural Meeting of new Council, December 1, 2014
(As our new Council takes office, I plan to continue reporting facts, rather than opinions, to the best of my ability. If you follow reports on Council, you can judge for yourself how well each member performs his or her duties, and how well Council as a whole functions over its term. Rossland achieved a significantly better voter turn-out for this election than for the previous one — but we still have a LOT of room for further improvement! Democracy can function well only if the voters are well-informed — and if they vote.)
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore and Councillors Aaron Cosbey, Andy Morel, Marten Kruysse, John Greene, Andrew Zwicker and Lloyd McLellan.
Mayor Moore called the meeting to order and welcomed the six new Council members.
No one took advantage of the Public Input Period, and there were no delegations or registered petitions. Moore commented that the lack of “Unfinished Business” on the agenda was “a bit ironic” — councillors chuckled.
Recommendations from Staff for Decision:
In separate motions, Council voted unanimously to receive the report of the Chief Election Officer for the City of Rossland; to provide notice of the schedule of regular Council meetings for 2015; to set the appointments for each month of councillors to act as mayor in the event of Moore’s absence; and to begin Council meetings at 6:00 PM instead of 7:00 PM.
RDKB Representative and alternate:
Next up was the motion to appoint a representative, and an alternate representative, to the Board of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDBK). Kruysse moved that Moore serve as the representative and that McLellan be the alternate.
McLellan said that he thinks it’s an error to appoint the mayor, as it results in too heavy a workload. He also suggested that the mayors should get together separately and discuss issues of mutual importance, apart from the District table; and that Council should “really look at inter-municipal agreements, rather than doing everything at the regional table” and that “we should try to disassociate ourselves from some of the regional services.”
Moore noted that in her recent conversations with the other local mayors, she has found that they plan to sit on the RDKB Board, and also plan to get together separately from the RDKB Board and discuss local issues that concern their communities apart from RDKB matters. She noted that she strongly supports inter-municipal agreements, and would like to try acting as the Rossland representative to the RDKB Board; she stated, “if it doesn’t work out, I have a very capable alternate.”
Cosbey asked whether the representative is allowed to bring the alternate to meetings; Moore said, “Yes.” Cosbey suggested that some of the work could be taken on by the alternate in that case. Moore said that they could work up an informal agreement. Kruysse said that while McLellan has a background in regional issues, he’d like to have the mayor as representative to help deepen the regional district knowledge around the Council table.
Cosbey raised the issue of whether or not McLellan and Moore can operate as a team, and said that being satisfied of that, he is less concerned about who fills which role. McLellan said he thought it should be the mayor who is the alternate, and that the rep should have experience — he suggested that Kruysse also has experience with the Regional District, and would also be a capable representative (Kruysse shook his head vigorously and mouthed “No, no, no.”)
McLellan suggested that Moore should attend the RDKB board meetings as alternate when she is available to do so, and said that if Moore is the representative he would expect to be called upon as alternate “quite often” and that the “alternate often is viewed as a lame duck” (at the RDKB table). Moore expressed appreciation for his opinion, and stated that she intends to be very collaborative, not just with the alternate but also with Council, as the “decisions made at the Regional District are hugely important for our municipality” and that it is a job for all of Council to be involved.
The motion to appoint Moore as the representative to the RDBK Board with McLellan as the alternate carried, with only McLellan opposed.
Moore paused to add herself as ex-officio member to the Public Works Committee, the Administration and Compensation Committee, and the Community Groups Committee. Council then unanimously approved the following appointments as representative, or Council liaison:
Moore: Rossland Broadband Initiative; Communications Committee; Sewage Committee.
Cosbey: Rossland Broadband Initiative; Education Committee; alternate to the Sustainability Commission.
Greene: Heritage Commission; Rossland Historical Museum and Archives Association; Design Review Panel; Public Safety Advisory Committee and Emergency Planning Committee; alternate to the Rossland Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Rossland.
Kruysse: Rossland Chamber of Commerce; Tourism Rossland; Public Works Committee.
Morel: Lower Columbia Community Development Team (LCCDT); Community Groups Committee.
McLellan: Rossland Public Library; Sewage Committee; Administration and Compensation Committee.
Zwicker: Sustainability Commission; Communications Committee; Community Groups Committee.
All Councillors: the new Financial, Audit, and Organizational Planning Committee.
After a question by McLellan, Cosbey clarified with Corporate Officer and Deputy CAO Tracey Butler that Council members who have been sitting on a committee as citizen volunteers, and who are now appointed to that committee as Council representative/liaison, have lost their role (and their vote) as citizen volunteer members of that committee.
A Winter-time Mountain Market? Or Not?
Council discussed a staff recommendation to “not support” Rossland Mountain Market’s request to waive fees for the use of the Miners Hall for five Saturdays from December to April. Cosbey wanted to ensure that if the City waives fees for the Miners Hall, it does so on the basis of consistent criteria embodied in a policy; at the same time, he wanted to assist the Market because it does good things for the community.
He suggested that the City could allow the Market to use the Hall for the first three dates, charging only the “hard costs” incurred by the City, and see how they do. The problem with waiving fees for the Market for five dates in advance is that it potentially costs City taxpayers money if Hall rentals must then be refused for the times the Market has booked the Hall.
Council members were unwilling to waive the rental fees if doing so would actually cost the City money for administration and janitorial costs. Zwicker commented that the Rossland Mountain Market is an excellent economic development effort, being driven by one woman working many hours a week as a volunteer, and suggested that the City could rent a table or two to subsidize the Market and also use it as part of Council’s communication efforts; he also suggested that the City could help the Market by providing publicity in its newsletter.
Kruysse said he supports the staff recommendation, and suggested that the City needs to do more evaluation of its situation and needs first. He commented that “Ms. Warwick is doing a fabulous job and that the Market is a wonderful community event, and hopefully it will grow over time.”
The motion to refuse the request as presented carried, with Zwicker and Cosbey opposed. Moore clarified that Council could now make another motion. After considerable discussion, McLellan suggested a motion to allow the Market to use the Miners Hall for the first three sessions and waive the fees except for the hard costs incurred — the administration fee and any janitorial fees that must be charged. This motion carried with only Kruysse opposed.
Zwicker moved that Rossland City Council commit to renting one table and having at least two council members at the Market. Cosbey indicated that the five-hour duration of the Market would be a bit of a hardship. Kruysse said he was “really uncomfortable” with the motion, as the City is already waiving fees, and didn’t think the City should be paying additional money for a table. Zwicker withdrew the motion. McLellan commented that waiving fees isn’t really setting a precedent, as Council has waived fees for various events in the past. Moore noted that Council could review the bylaw setting out rates for not-for-profit organizations. Kruysse thought Council needs to look at the Miners Hall as a facility and a source of revenue and have a business plan for it. Cosbey pointed out that it’s not just about generating revenue — that it’s also about other benefits to the community. He added that whether or not the Market will bring people to town in the winter remains to be seen.
Council moved to accept the information items.
Moore asked which staff member presented the “Know Your Watershed” program to the school students; Butler responded that it was Stacey Lightbourne, and Moore suggested a letter of thanks to her.
Bylaw 2579, the Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw, had received first, second and third readings by the previous Council. The new Council discussed it at some length, clarifying the effect of adopting it. Cosbey explained, “we are not authorizing new spending; we are authorizing the correction of the budget regarding what has already been spent.” The motion to adopt carried unanimously.
After a few comments from Council members on their hopes for the coming term, Moore adjourned the meeting. Moore spoke with Butler briefly, noting that the pre-meeting orientation session could have been open to the public (the outside door had been locked), and that she would like “open to the public” to be Council’s “default mode.”
Your reporter bundled up and shuffled home in the dark along the side of the street, waving a little penlight at approaching motorists to avoid becoming roadkill, hoping to continue reporting on Council’s progress, and regretting the scarcity of snow.