Council Gets On With It All

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
October 14th, 2015

Rossland City Council Regular Meeting, October 13, 2015:

Present:  Mayor Kathy Moore, Councillors  John Greene, Marten Kruysse, Andrew Zwicker and Andy Morel.   Both Aaron Cosbey and Lloyd McLellan were unable to attend.

Staff:  Planner Stacey Lightbourne (doing the minutes),  and Interim CAO Mike Maturo.

The  gallery was empty, and there were no delegations, so Council got right down to business and dealt with public agenda items expeditiously before moving to an in camera  session.

First up was a motion to “partner with Interior Health to promote health and wellness in the community and to reduce the risk factors for chronic disease.”   This item arose from an earlier delegation from IHA.  Zwicker,  Morel and Moore all spoke in favour, and the motion  CARRIED unanimously.

Council then discussed a public  engagement plan for the proposed new water and sewer rates:  Moore noted that the plan had been amended as a result of comments and suggestions, and that the date for public consultation  has not yet been confirmed.    Moore said she hoped to set the date for the public consultation, and for Council to approve the amended engagement plan,  at this meeting.  A motion to approve the amended plan  CARRIED unanimously.   

A further motion to hold a public engagement event about the water and sewer rates  at the Seniors’ Hall on November 12, with the doors opening at 6:30 and a presentation at 7:00, CARRIED unanimously.

A Batch of Bylaws:

Council members present were all on the same page and voted unanimously to  adopt three bylaws that had already been discussed and had gone through first, second, and third readings:  Bylaw 2593, to amend the  Official Community Plan (OCP) by changing the property designation at 2099 Third Avenue from Public  and Institutional to  Mixed Use;  then, Bylaw 2594 which changes the zoning of that same property from Public and Institutional to  C-2, Commercial Service; then, Bylaw 2597, to change the zoning of the lots at 2025 and 2035 First Avenue from C-1, Commercial Downtown Core, to  R-3, Residential Multiple Family.  

Council then discussed a motion to give first and second  readings  to  Bylaw 2602,  to rezone  2075 Thompson Avenue from R1 — Residential Infill  to  Detached Infill Residential Guest Home.  Council members discussed the application to ensure that parking would not be a problem.   Neighbours will have an opportunity for input at a public hearing at a later date, to be announced.   The motion CARRIED unanimously.

Council then discussed a motion to direct staff, as they have time, to investigate ways of ensuring that guest accommodation does not exceed  an appropriate level for the community.  Morel expressed a concern that City policies should not  encourage an excessive number of “dark houses”.    Kruysse wondered whether Rossland would develop a policy that would just “chase the market”, or be proactive.   Greene clarified that once a house is zoned as a guest house, the zoning is permanent, unless and until further re-zoned.   The motion CARRIED unanimously.

A motion to adopt the Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw, granting benefits for the new hotel at Red and to the new owners of the building that formerly housed RossVegas,   CARRIED unanimously.

Woodstove Exchange Program:

At an earlier meeting, Council had directed staff to “apply for the provincial woodstove exchange program (community level) for funding to promote the exchange and offer incentives to replace old woodstoves.”  For this meeting, staff supplied a memo explaining that City Hall currently lacks the staff resources to fill out the long and complex application  (which, your reporter notes, asks for information that Rossland is not equipped to supply, such as “measurements  showing poor air quality during the heating season” — Rossland has no air quality measuring  equipment;  and  “the number of homes heating with wood, and the number of old technology stoves in use;”  this information is not readily available to the City).   Staff  suggested that, if the RDKB receives confirmation of the  funding, Rossland could inform the program co-ordinator of Rossland’s top-up funding offer of $100 per woodstove exchange for Rossland residents  and then inform the public about the RDKB program.

Financial Report:  Council examined the financial report, prepared by now-departed former Acting Chief Financial Officer Lois Hunter, and discussed it briefly.   A motion to receive it  CARRIED unanimously.

Member Reports:

John Greene reported that the Heritage Conference was a resounding success and that the Museum is very close to having  full funding in place for its renovation project. 

Zwicker reported that he had been in Sooke, where their street lighting is limited to corners, and that it was  “scary walking around at night, especially when there are warnings issued  about cougars.”  This was  apropos of earlier talks about rationalizing street  lighting in Rossland.

Moore reported that she would like to pass her RDKB board and committee obligations on to Lloyd McLellan for the time being;  she explained that she thought he would be able to report more fully on all the activity than she is at present, and assured Council that McLellan has agreed to this change.  The motion to accomplish it CARRIED unanimously.

Moore reiterated the information provided earlier in a City press release,  that  Rossland’s CAO Cecile Arnott will return to her position on October 19 and thanked  both Lois Hunter (who has already moved on to a new position)  and Mike Maturo for their exemplary work with Council  “under very trying circumstances.”

Moore reported on an event she had attended on  “aging in the Kootenays” and passed on some of the information, including some statistics about the relative wealth or poverty of elders in Rossland.   On October 14, she and  Greene will go to the “sod turning event” at 2:00 pm for the sewer pipe/pedestrian bridge in Trail. 

 Kruysse cited a statistic he had seen to the effect that 8% of Rossland’s population  are considered “poor”. 

Council then adjourned to an in camera  session, to discuss matters that fall under the headings of “labour relations” and “negotiations.”    

Your reporter wandered off  home in the gloaming,  briefly wondering about the potential outcomes of this batch of  Council’s  in camera  sessions,  then moving on to contemplate  our unusually fine fall weather and the fact that several waterholes, such as the one on Record Ridge and the one above the field behind Black Bear neighbourhood, and little wetlands such as Coyote Swamp and the one on the upper north side of Deer Park Hill, are now completely devoid of visible wetness.   The North Jubilee wetland, on the other hand, is wonderfully full of water.  That leads  to thoughts of  leaking ancient water lines;  but perhaps it  really is fed by a year-round natural spring.  Chlorine test, anyone?

P.S.:  Council must have decided they needed more time to discuss  labour relations  because on Wednesday, October 14,  the City issued  notice of a further in camera  council meeting to be held on Thursday, October 15, on that topic.      

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