Search and Rescue Needs a Home -- and How Much Swimming in Star Gulch would Cost
For Meetings Held March 9 and 10, 2015
Rossland City Council is busy, busy, busy. On March 9, they met at 5:00 pm for a brief “in camera” session to discuss litigation; then opened the doors to the public at 5:30 pm for a Committee of the Whole (“COW”) meeting until 6:00 pm; then moved to a Public Hearing on two applications, then moved into the regular meeting and worked until after 10:00 pm.
On March 10, Council held another COW meeting from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm to discuss a management plan and the budget. Here’s a summary of what went on, for readers with enquiring minds. I’m afraid that any reader who wants more information than I provide here must spend many hours sitting in the gallery.
The COW: The City’s auditors, Berg Lehman, had representatives appear for a brief discussion of the role of auditors, and the possibility of expanding the scope of the audit.
The Public Hearing: First up was the application by Bruce Wolk to have his property at 3975 Old Red Mountain Road rezoned to “Resort Holiday Park”. Council had received a letter from Brian and Carmel O’Flanagan opposing the inclusion of “tent trailers, travel trailers, recreational vehicles and campers” in the bylaw. Wolk stated that he has no intention of allowing those on the eastern section of his property that abuts the O’Flanagan property, but may wish to allow them on the western section — on the other side of Old Red Mountain Road. He wanted to know why the City wants him to pay for designating a strip of his property as a statutory right of way for the City to use as snow storage; Planner Stacey Lightbourne responded that the change in use will exacerbate some City concerns and costs, and that it is common practice to ask the property owner to cover such costs as part of the rezoning.
The next application for Public Hearing was to rezone 1678 Third Avenue to allow it to be subdivided. No one appeared to speak to the application.
Public Input Period: Bill Profili spoke on behalf of the Lions Club, supporting their request that the City commit to a further five-year lease of the campground property a year before the current lease expires; they wish to expand the facility, and to begin seeking grants for the work, with the assurance that the lease will continue. Cosbey asked whether the improvements would enable the campground to meet the standards for approval by Destination BC; a letter from Tourism Rossland encouraged that. Profili responded that the requirements, including an on-site telephone and on-site staffing, would increase costs by 100% and revenue by only about 30%. Zwicker asked what improvements are planned; Profili answered that they need to increase the electrical service, and they’d like to add four or five more RV sites, and may look at adding more sites over time by adding fill to enlarge the usable area.
In a long and informative presentation, Deanne Stevens spoke about Tourism Rossland and its activities and contributions to Rossland’s economy. She spoke of the rise in accommodation revenue in Rossland, the value of the Free Shuttle Bus in attracting visitors, and the many initiatives being planned to increase tourism. She mentioned the Lions Campground and what a great draw it could be; she said she thought the Destination BC requirements of a phone and on-site staffing could be “worked around.”
The next delegation was Rossland Search and Rescue (SAR). Dave Braithwaite made a plea to the City for premises for SAR, and said that Rossland’s group has no storage and shelter for their equipment, gear and information; members have to store these things in (or near) their homes and it’s sometimes difficult to find information and gear when they need it. SAR incidents increase with increased tourism, but the group is having more difficulty gaining funding because of their lack of premises and proper vehicle storage. Ed Evans also spoke; he said Rossland’s SAR group is the only one left in the province “with no place to call home.” The group would like to be able to set up an emergency operations centre for Rossland, but they need a location for it. There was some discussion of the type of premises SAR needs. Moore commented that the Regional District praised Rossland’s SAR group for the quality of their reporting.
Council moved on to the decision on the bylaw for rezoning 3975 Old Red Mountain Road. Zwicker wanted to know what the effects would be if the City did not require property owners to pay for things “that don’t benefit them” such as setting aside a SRW for snow storage when asking for rezoning; Moore responded that the benefit to the property owner is getting the rezoning. Zwicker wanted to ensure that Council could not be accused of “selling” zoning; Lightbourne stated that a landowner’s application for rezoning triggers an opportunity for the City to formally address its concerns and needs about the property, especially any arising from the change or intensification in use, by requiring certain concessions from the property owner; she emphasized that changing zoning is discretionary.
Cosbey pointed out that allowing RVs, tent trailers, campers, and trailers in the new Resort Holiday Park zone means that the City could not refuse to allow a new owner, in the future, from using all of the property for that purpose. Kruysse asked whether a covenant on title could address the neighbour’s concerns, and Lightbourne agreed that it could, with a bit of added expense.
A motion to leave the wording unchanged in the rezoning bylaw for 3975 Old Red Mountain Road and to give it third reading CARRIED.
A motion to give third reading to the bylaw to rezone 1678 Third Avenue to R1-Infill – Detached Infill Residential also CARRIED.
Policy Review(a): A motion to adopt the revised policy on “Council Committee System” CARRIED, with compliments from Cosbey to staff on the re-write, particularly the simplification of the volunteer application form.
North Jubilee Park Wetland Restoration Project: A motion to approve the project CARRIED unanimously.
More logging at Redstone:
Redstone submitted an application toremove the requirement for 15-metre “vegetative buffers” on either side of fairways, greens and cart paths, including “no selective logging” zones. Staff recommended approval; having made the resolution to move discussion forward, many Council members expressed discomfort with the application because of their concern about additional environmental disruption, and because they lacked confidence in the qualifications and experience of the environmental monitor chosen by applicant Cary Fisher. It was noted that the chosen monitor also lives at Redstone. After a wide-ranging discussion, a motion to amend the motion to require the appointment of a monitor with professional certification CARRIED.
On the main motion — to allow the removal of the requirement for the buffer — Council split: the motion CARRIED4 – 3, with McLellan, Morel, and Zwicker opposed.
Star Gulch Feasibility Study:
A motion to receive the report by ISL Engineering CARRIED. Council members further discussed whether Ophir should also be studied with a view to using it for public swimming, but Butler pointed out a number of disadvantages of Ophir for that purpose. Council decided to ask ISL if they have any information regarding Ophir’s potential, without incurring additional cost.
The 13-page study estimated costs for construction to enable Star Gulch to be used for public swimming at over $150,000, and annual operating and maintenance costs to City taxpayers at over $45,000. With an estimated lifespan of 25 years, the project would cost the City $82,700 per year over that time. Among other things, the study also recommended that before doing a detailed design for the project, the City should get preliminary written input from the Interior Health Authority. For more detail, you can find the study on pages 41 to 55 of the Council agenda package for March 9, on the City’s website.
Council then reviewed the City’s existing policy on “Council Minimum Benefits”. Greene moved to accept the policy as is; motion DEFEATED, with only Greene voting in favour. A further motion to delete Council’s members’ entitlement to reimbursement for half their internet charges, and for any “monthly allowance” for personal vehicles in addition to mileage allowances, and for reimbursement for meals within Rossland, CARRIED unanimously.
Next up was the “Personal Expense and Travel” Policy, applicable to both staff and Council members. Council removed entitlement to $200/day for Council members who must take unpaid leave from work to attend one conference per year; and entitlement to receive $40 per day for “incidentals” when travelling; and reduced the amount provided for staying with family/friends to $25 per night rather than $50.
Zwicker suggested the possibility of the City joining CarShare; that was set aside for discussion at another time.
Council received a letter from Paul De Villiers of the Rossland Tennis Society, seeking to work with the Recreation Department, with the assistance of Councillor Zwicker on grant-writing for a project to re-pave the courts. A motion to that effect CARRIED, with kudos to De Villiers for being almost a “one-man recreation department” for the Tennis Society.
“Rusty” gets a new home: Rossland Council for Arts & Culture requested permission to place “Rusty” outside the former RossVegas shop. RCAC also requested permission from Council to locate a new sculpture (on loan) called “Sphere of Influence” in the open area between “Laundry Dog” and “Revolution Cycles.” Motions agreeing to both requests CARRIED.
Lions Campground request: To get a decision from Council now on renewing the lease for 5 years after it expires in 2016, to facilitate improvements. Council defeated a motion to agree to the request with no conditions, because they liked the suggestion from Tourism Rossland that getting Destination BC approval would make the campground more of a tourist draw and would contribute greatly to the campground’s viability. A motion that the City organize a meeting with the Lions and Tourism Rossland to explore the long-term viability of the campground CARRIED. Kruysse, Zwicker, McLellan and Greene will be involved.
Council hastened through a number of other items but still adjourned the meeting well after 10:00 pm. Your reporter walked home in the starry darkness, working the numbness out of her fundament after sitting for five hours taking notes, and contemplating Council’s workload.
The Next Day —March 10: Committee of the Whole Meeting, 4:00 pm:
One of Council’s goals for this two-hour-long meeting was to set some targets (eg, for property tax). Discussions resulted in recommendations to be adopted at the next regular meeting, including these:
1. To ask staff what impact on service a particular percentage decrease in costs, across all departments, would have;
2. To set a property tax increase of 2%;
3. To ask staff how the worker-hours that were not used for snow removal in this low-snow winter season were allocated; and
4. To review the staff incentive policy.
At 6:00 pm Council adjourned the meeting, and your reporter walked home, enjoying the daylight this time — and trying to ignore gusts of dust from the road.