COUNCIL MATTERS: Water Restrictions, Golden City Days, and -- Want to Sleep Under a Bridge?
Regular Rossland City Council Meeting, August 17, 2015
All Councillors except Andy Morel were present.
Delegation: Deanne Steven presented for Tourism Rossland, on the signage for, and potential re-naming of, Pioneer Park. Steven explained that the original (1923) name of “Esling Park” was later changed to “Pioneer Park” and that the intention of the change was to be more inclusive in honouring the early residents and builders of Rossland, including the Chinese community. She noted that Tourism Rossland takes no position on the issue of what the name should be, but needs it settled so that new signs for the park can be made this year with the funding allocated for that purpose from the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding. Steven asked for permission to go ahead with the Trails map side of the sign, but council was reluctant to decide even on that one without conferring with the Heritage Commission. Interim Chief Administrative Officer Mike Maturo pointed out that this decision has been pending for 4 years.
The provincial government has extended RMI funding for another two years, and — good news for Rossland, because one requirement of the funding is that a large proportion of it must be spent on “infrastructure” — now allows shuttles to be categorized as “infrastructure.”
About $7,200 of the RMI funding was originally budgeted for a gazebo or bandstand. A motion to move that amount to signage, as more signage is needed, especially for the Lions Campground, CARRIED unanimously. Deanne noted that there is great growth in camping, and the Lions Campground is an attractive space, and people can walk into town for shopping and events. She hinted at expansion of the campground (your reporter notes that some conversation between Tourism Rossland and our volunteer wetlands advocates might be in order, first.) She reported that Kimberly earns about $186,000 in a year from its campground.
Mayor Kathy Moore thanked Steven for her work, and Council moved on to other business.
Moore acknowledged that the City missed the deadline for the Sun Country “Electric Highway” opportunity; Maturo noted that he did not receive a response from ISL’s electrical engineer to his queries about it.
A motion to approve a grant application for the Miners Union Hall renovation from the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund CARRIED unanimously. (Maturo noted, when asked about the urgency of the renovation, that the Miners Hall roof is leaking — replacement is overdue.)
A motion to approve the Municipal Insurance Association grant application, to assist the City with hazard assessment for City-owned buildings, as newly required by WorkSafe BC, CARRIED unanimously.
Permissive tax exemptions: A motion to approve the applications CARRIED unanimously. (The City is foregoing property tax income of $23,171 in return for the benefits to the community from the organizations whose premises are exempted, or partially exempted, from paying property tax. The premises with exemption or partial exemptions are: Golden Bear Children’s Centre, Golden City Manor, the Thrift Shop, Rossland Light Opera Players, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #14, Sacred Heart Church, Seven Summits Centre for Learning, and St. Andrew’s Church.)
Councillor Lloyd McLellan moved that permissive tax exemptions be granted for three-year terms. He noted that many of the questions and documents required have little to do with the decision, and why make volunteers do all that work unnecessarily? Some applications ran to 23 pages or more of material. If a new group applies and is accepted part-way through the three -year term, their exemption will last until the term ends, so that their next application would be submitted at the same time as the rest of the applicants. The motion CARRIED unanimously.
Council discussed a potential change to the Staff Benefits package; a proposal from the City’s new broker would offer short-term savings and slightly increased benefits (which cannot later be reduced again) but with an increase in costs after the first 15 months. The full effect of the proposal had not been obvious from the initial information that was presented earlier, and the term “bait and switch” was audible. A motion to get more information on the usual range of annual cost increases CARRIED.
Staff recommended granting the application for a revitalization tax exemption for WCH Holdings Ltd. (the new hotel being built at Red.) Councillor Aaron Cosbey thought the intent of the exemption was to improve existing properties, not to subsidize construction of a new build. Council members thought the 2010 Revitalization Tax Exemption bylaw was poorly drafted, and wanted legal advice on its effect and requirements before going further with this application. BC Assessment have advised revision of the bylaw. A motion to get a legal opinion on the bylaw CARRIED.
Councillor Marten Kruysse wanted to make sure that Rosslanders understand that Council is strongly in favour of developing our tourism industry. He thinks Rossland has difficulties attracting development, and also visitors, because of the challenges of travel to and from Rossland. Councillor Andrew Zwicker commented that the bylaw helps to compensate for the risk in investing in Rossland. Kruysse commented that this hotel has been a long time coming; every little bit helps.
A motion to review the bylaw with an eye to amending it for greater clarity CARRIED, without setting a date for the review.
A motion to approve funding of $50,000 for the completion of detailed design and issuing of tender documents for the Washington Street project CARRIED unanimously.
Kootenay Business Magazine will be featuring Rossland and Trail in an upcoming issue, and invited Rossland to pay for an advertisement. Zwicker excused himself for a conflict of interest. After discussion, in which Kruysse questioned the value of any advertising, Kruysse suggested a 1/9 page ad; Cosbey suggested a 1/4 page ad; McLellan and Councillor John Greene concurred. A motion to purchase a 1/4 page ad CARRIED. The ad will have a “business-friendly” focus.
A motion to give Zoning Amendment Bylaw 2597 first and second reading: CARRIED unanimously. This bylaw will change the zoning of the two vacant lots behind Better Life Fitness from Commercial Downtown Core to Multiple Family Residential.
Acting Chief Financial Officer Lois Hunter presented Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw 2598, to reconcile the financial plan with all Council decisions to date that departed from the original budget estimates, since the last amendment bylaw. The motion CARRIED unanimously.
Council discussed water. When asked, Maturo agreed that the current water restrictions need to be in place, even with our metering system. He pointed out that it’s an exceptionally dry year, the creeks are beginning to dry up, we may have a very dry autumn, and there is no longer any overflow from Centre Star Gulch reservoir. Kruysse wondered why we care when people water, or how much: “Water is a commodity, and we have enough.” Maturo said we are about a month earlier, this year, in having the overflow stop. Greene said he thinks education is very important.
Greene moved that Council move back to making decisions about watering schedule /restrictions, instead of having it come into effect automatically, and that motion CARRIED. McLellan said he thinks watering should be subject to a schedule all year, and the schedule should not be called “restrictions.”
Council received a letter seeking travel expenses for five students of the Kate Shaw School of Highland dance team to attend an important dance event in San Diego, California. Cosbey noted that the City has refused to support travel for a number of groups, and wondered if it would be better to simply have a policy that the City does not support travel for teams, but after brief discussion there was no motion and no decision on a policy.
“Getting to Home,” a local collaborative project helping the homeless to find homes and to become more self-sufficient and secure, is once again inviting participants in “Coins for Change”: getting pledges and sleeping under the Trail bridge the evening of September 18 to the morning of September 19, 8:00 pm to 8:00 am, to raise funds for the project. Kruysse asked if there is an annual homeless count here ; no one knew. Moore stated her intention to sleep under the bridge; Cosbey hoped that this year, the sprinklers would not come on in the middle of the night.
Council briefly discussed their plans in working toward a strategic planning session and raising public interest in participating in it.
Cosbey reported on a recent meeting of the Broadband task force.
Zwicker objected to the federal election signs appearing on City property. He regards them as a form of unsightly and uninformative littering and a waste of resources, and moved that the City disallow election signs on City property. Moore didn’t want to restrict municipal election signs. Cosbey said he would like time to think about it; but he also noted that as far as the “free speech” argument goes, the signs don’t convey any information, so hardly qualify. There was no seconder for the motion, so it failed. Zwicker then moved that the City take down the “drug free zone” signs, as they accomplish nothing and convey a mixed message. That motion CARRIED.
Maturo had an idea for Golden City Days: to cordon off the parking along the parade route, to leave more room for pedestrians to gather during the parade. A motion to that effect was amended to make the action subject to favourable responses from the business community, in a survey to be conducted by two Council members. CARRIED with McLellan opposed.
The 14 BC Resort Municipality mayors are interested in trying to get the RMI funding extended beyond 2017, and are doing research for a lobbying package to take to Victoria. A motion to support the move for extended RMI funding CARRIED.
And after that, Council recessed to an in camera session, for the usual reasons. And your reporter lugged her ancient laptop home, amazed that it was already so dark outside.