SPECIAL MEETING OF ROSSLAND CITY COUNCIL
July 30, 2015, 1:00 pm
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore; Councillors Marten Kruysse, Lloyd McLellan, Andy Morel, John Greene, and Andrew Zwicker.
Absent on holidays: Aaron Cosbey.
Staff: Laurie Karn (taking minutes); Interim Chief Administrative Officer Mike Maturo; Acting Chief Financial Officer Lois Hunter.
More debt, to pay for Washington Street Infrastructure Renewal
But first, a process for voters to object to the debt — if they want to:
Council discussed a staff proposal to use a less-expensive “Alternative Approval Process” for voters to express their approval (or not) of the proposed borrowing of funding for the Washington Street Infrastructure Renewal Project. A full-on referendum, which follows a very similar process to a municipal election, would cost the taxpayers about $9,300. An alternative approval process is much less costly, as it requires advertisement in a local newspaper for two consecutive weeks, giving the details of the proposed borrowing and a description of the project that the borrowing would fund, and how voters can express their opinions. Voters then have 30 days to submit the required forms, rather than having to vote on specified dates, as in a referendum. If enough (10% of eligible voters) object to the loan, then the City must hold a referendum on the question. If fewer than 10% of the eligible voters object, the City can go ahead with the loan without holding a referendum — saving some money.
Zwicker suggested that Council should hold a public meeting, perhaps on Washington Street, and add information to the advertisements about how much additional money the average householder will pay annually to service the debt. Hunter explained that she would propose the contents of the required ads after the Council resolution was in place.
The motion to use the alternative approval process CARRIED unanimously. Then, having dealt with the process for getting the required “assent of electors” for borrowing the money, Council moved on to authorize the actual borrowing.
Next, authorizing the City to borrow the money:
There was no discussion; Council has already discussed exhaustively the need for the Washington Street Infrastructure Renewal project and its likely cost.
Council voted on a motion to give first, second and third readings to a bylaw authorizing the City to borrow up to 4 million dollars for the Washington Street Infrastructure Renewal Project, conditional upon the approval of the electors, and the Inspector of Municipalities — and to acquire all rights-of-way, property licences (and so on) required for the project. The staff report explains that, if so authorized, the City will borrow funding as needed, on short-term temporary loans, up to the maximum total of 4 million dollars.
The law requires that Council pass a separate and additional bylaw for each such loan, after Council authorizes the total amount to be borrowed, so as the project proceeds there will be a series of borrowing bylaws for the funding authorized by this bylaw. Both staff and Council made it clear that the full amount should not be needed, even if no further grants can be obtained — the amount authorized includes a large contingency allowance.
The motion authorizing the City to borrow a total of $4 million CARRIED unanimously.
About Litigation involving the City and its Contractors or Suppliers:
Staff made a proposal to amend the city’s Purchasing Policy to enable the City to exercise its discretion to reject tenders from contractors who are, or have been, engaged in litigation against the City. The City’s lawyers provided advice, and wording that has withstood a legal challenge. To be clear, the proposed wording would only enable the City to consider whether or not the litigation would be likely to “affect the Tenderer’s ability to work with the City, its consultants and representatives and whether the City’s experience with the Tenderer indicates that there is a risk that the City will incur increased staff and legal costs in the administration of the contract.” The policy would not result in automatic rejection of any tenders.
Discussion: Council considered the various criteria the City uses when choosing one tender over others. Kruysse wondered what the “additional costs” would arise from dealing with a supplier/contractor with whom the City was involved in litigation. Maturo responded that, if someone put in a bid while engaged in litigation with the City, the City’s first step would be to consult a lawyer, which results in extra cost. McLellan said he didn’t think the new policy would prevent being challenged on not accepting the lowest bid; he noted that if the lowest bid isn’t accepted, “you’d better have very good reason.” Maturo said it might not prevent it, but it would help a great deal in defending such a challenge, to have the matter clarified in the policy; he noted that the wording proposed has recently been successfully defended in court. Kruysse indicated that he would “prefer to defer this policy” until this Council has had more experience, and thinks that the City can protect itself adequately in the tender call. Morel said he thought that any statements in a tender call should be backed up by internal policy. Moore thought the policy could be made more narrowly worded, and noted that sometimes the City might make an error, and a supplier or contractor might be “in the right” in suing the City.
The motion to amend the Purchasing Policy as proposed FAILED (no one voted in favour.)
Morel moved to defer the amendment, and said he would like to know more about what other municipalities are doing. Greene commented, “What are we doing to do, defer it until we get burned again?” Kruysse mentioned that Council does regular policy review now. The motion to defer CARRIED.
Gearing up for Golden City Days:
Golden City Days co-ordinator Terry Brinson had a few additional requests of the City. Councillors satisfied themselves that the public works department has stated that they can do the additional items within budget.
Motion to approve the requests CARRIED unanimously.
Added Topic: Sun Country Highway (SCH) Electric Car Chargers. Moore brought information about an opportunity for the City to have electric car chargers supplied without any annual fee. McLellan moved that staff be directed to explore the viability of the SCH chargers. Moore explained that, at a recent meeting of the Highway 3 mayors coalition, the mayors decided to make Highway 3 an “electric highway.” The Ministry of Transportation and Highways would help with signage. SCH will provide charging units at no annual fee, but the City would have to pay for the installation. The deadline for applying for the chargers is August 15. Zwicker suggested talking to a community that already has one, for more details; Moore said Revelstoke has one.
The motion to get more information on the SCH proposal CARRIED unanimously. For the curious, here’s an excerpt from a November 2014 article in the Globe and Mail:
“For a fee, Rathwell’s Saskatchewan-based company supplies and installs the chargers in outlets ranging from gas stations to shopping malls to coffee shops. Cost of a charge to the vehicle owner, if any, is determined by the site operator. Many provinces including Ontario don’t allow charging per kilowatt-hour so it’s either free, delivered for a parking charge, or accessed on a network that does charge (Chargepoint, SCH/Blink, etc.).
“With Level-2 charges requiring four hours or more, cross-country travel isn’t practical. Sun Country’s expanded network could make intercity travel a more amenable option for EV buyers, while giving plug-in hybrid owners opportunities to increase the number of emissions-free kilometres. Much quicker, pricier Level-3 units would provide an 80-per-cent charge in about 20 minutes. In an e-mail, Rathwell estimated that it will be possible to travel virtually anywhere in Ontario on L3 chargers “in approximately 24 to 36 months.“
Council recessed to an in camera session, pursuant to Section 90(1), subsections (d), (e) and (k) of the community Charter.
And your reporter wandered out into the bright heat of the afternoon, to the Rossland Mountain Market, to spend money on wood-fired gluten-free pizza and fresh lemonade, and chat with friends and neighbours. Several people expressed a wish for benches along the east wall of the Credit Union building, for people to rest in the shade and enjoy their treats.