Washington Street Design Features; Changes in Council Meeting Schedule

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
October 28th, 2015

Rossland City Council, October 26, 2015

All Council members were present:  Mayor Kathy Moore, Councillors  Lloyd McLellan, John Greene, Andrew Zwicker,  Marten Kruysse, Andy Morel and Aaron  Cosbey.

Staff:   Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Añonuevo, Planner Stacey Lightbourne, Manager of Public Works Darrin Albo.  Absent:  Chief Administrative Officer / Chief Financial Officer Cecile Arnott.

Committee-of-the-Whole Meeting:  5:00 pm

Public Input Period:  A resident who lives on Plewman Way appeared  to speak to the safety of the re-design and its effect on the speed of traffic; and the effect  on their driveway  (which is partly on the City boulevard)  and their winter parking.    Lightbourne explained the City’s  rationale for narrowing the roadway slightly — it does tend to slow traffic down, though no one can guarantee that in advance.   She also explained the difficulties of  trying to amalgamate the entrances of McLeod and Kirkup, which had been suggested as a way of slowing traffic entering McLeod.  

Discussions about  the Washington Street project surface design:

Moore noted that Lightbourne had provided her with information on the percentage of the total cost of the project for each component:  necessary replacement of underground utilities will be  68% of the cost of the project;   the pavement, curbs and  gutters use 26.5% of the cost;  sidewalks will be 3.5%  and landscaping is estimated to use about 2% of the cost.

Council discussed each section of the surface design proposal separately.

1.  Designated separate bike lane up Washington from 1st Ave to Jubilee:

 Kruysse expressed reservations about a bike lane up Washington — he wondered who it was designed for, as he didn’t recall using it himself when he lived in upper Rossland.  A resident on lower Washington Street, from the public gallery,  told him that she sees many people biking up Washington daily, some of them towing kid trailers.   A resident on Plewman Way confirmed that she sees bikes using it regularly.   Lightbourne  commented that the bike lane would be separated from the traffic — not just by a painted line — so it will be safer and more inviting to use.   The motion to go ahead with the designated bike lane  CARRIED unanimously.

2.   Sidewalk  on the West side of Washington to Fourth Avenue (RSS):

Greene questioned the need for a sidewalk there, and thought it would interfere with vehicle access to the Emcon lot.   He also asked why the City couldn’t do away with power poles and put the wires underground; Albo explained that  the cost would be very high.   Kruysse expressed misgivings about the proposed crosswalk location and wondered whether  the stopping distance would  be adequate  with “a parade of cars coming down”;  he asked if the school had been consulted.    Lightbourne responded that the school and the traffic engineers were strongly in favour of the proposed crosswalk location.  The motion to have a sidewalk on the west side of Washington to RSS  CARRIED unanimously.

3.   Sidewalk from downtown to Kirkup on the east side of Washington and Plewman:

Kruysse said he was glad there would be a crosswalk at Spokane; Zwicker noted that there’s already a marked crosswalk there, but “the paint wears off.”   Moore said a sign on the highway pointing straight ahead for Rossland  (toward the Museum and gas station intersection)  might help divert traffic off Plewman & Washington.  The motion to create a sidewalk  on the east side of the roadway  CARRIED unanimously.

4.  Close Fourth Avenue intersection on Washington Street:

Lightbourne explained that the crosswalk for the school is not the only reason for closing that portion of Fourth.   She noted that the dogleg of Fourth actually crosses the Emcon property, and there is a rock outcropping that makes sightlines difficult and would make re-routing it complicated and expensive.   Greene agreed that it should be closed,  having used it for most of his lifetime.   The motion CARRIED unanimously.

5.  Close Sixth Avenue intersection on Washington Street:    

Safety is the consideration for this suggestion.     Albo noted that making it one-way going downhill instead of closing it would be a preferable option for some reasons.     Moore suggested that the motion to close Sixth be defeated, and  that staff should investigate the possibilities in more detail, and the motion was unanimously DEFEATED.

Cosbey moved that staff  be tasked with making a recommendation after investigating options.  McLellan favors making it downhill onto Sixth only, but only for a right-hand turn from uphill-moving  vehicles.   The new motion CARRIED unanimously.

6.  Close Turner Avenue intersection on Washington Street:  

Lightbourne noted that residents of Turner were concerned about their ability to get to their homes in the winter; and  staff have been considering making it a one-way “in”  from uphill traffic on Washington only.   A motion  to task staff with looking into options more closely and making a recommendation   CARRIED unanimously.

7.   Re-design  McLeod and Kirkup intersection  to two separate entrances :   

 Zwicker asked if there was a way to slow traffic down at that area.   Lightbourne said a bump-out would help;   McLellan proposed closing  access from the highway.     Kruysse said he is “absolutely, fundamentally opposed”  to closing off the access to the highway, and pointed out how much extra distance would be involved for residents in that area.  Greene pointed out how much additional traffic pressure such a closure would place on the downtown area.  Cosbey said he also doesn’t want to close it  and that it would  not be “appropriate for us to approve that tonight because it was never put out for public discussion.”

The motion to re-design the two intersections as proposed CARRIED.

On a motion to seek public input on closing the access to the highway  via  Kirkup  Avenue  in the winter,   McLellan queried whether it should be seasonal;  he  suggested it could be one-way going out to the highway.    Kruysse was opposed because he said there always needs to be two means of access.  Greene is opposed.  Zwicker is also opposed  because he thinks the issue is speed, more than the volume of traffic.    Lightbourne commented that it would require a change in the OCP, as the OCP identifies it as a collector road.   Kruysse noted that a number of people use McLeod to access the rest of Rossland  instead of Plewman,  to avoid the hill on Plewman.    Cosbey noted that staff time is limited, and the City needs to get the design decisions quickly .  The motion to seek public input on closing access to the highway via Kirkup was DEFEATED.

8.  Bump-outs to improve intersection safety on 2nd and 3rd Avenues:  

Moore noted that another bump-out had been suggested up on Kirkup near Spokane — Lightbourne said she likes that idea, and the bump-out was added to the motion.  Lightbourne also stated that these bump-outs will  leave a wider  roadway than the ones at First Avenue.    The amended motion CARRIED.

9.  Boulevard and intersection landscaping with drought-resistant,  low-growing shrubs:   

Kruysse commented that the City needs to consider maintenance costs of any landscaping, and asked how high they would be; Albo said maintenance costs would be “modest.”  McLellan said paving the boulevards looks awful.   Greene suggested  “the Rossland solution” of covering boulevard  plantings  with material in the fall and removing it in the spring, to avoid gravel build-up on plantings.   The  motion for plantings CARRIED unanimously. 

Council adjourned the Committee-of-the-Whole meeting at 6:20 pm, and Mayor Moore called the regular  meeting  to order immediately. 

 Regular Council Meeting:

Public Input Period

Fletcher Quince appeared to speak to the old Firehall operation,  and hours of opening/closing.  He was seeking guidance;  Lightbourne commented that the  Good Neighbour Bylaw deals with  noise and that hours of operation are ruled by the terms of the liquor licence.   Moore suggested that  the strata bylaws might contain information.   Añonuevo suggested that he send his  question to her so that she can look into it.    Quince  also talked about changing the model of the Sustainability Commission.   Moore noted that Public Input period is not designed for this large a discussion, and suggested that a future delegation would be more appropriate.

Delegation:  RCMP  Sergeant Oelke came to discuss Rossland’s 2014 crime statistics, and apologized for how late they  are;  the 2014 crime statistics  have not arrived until now.  He said that the 2014 homicide in Rossland is still being actively investigated.  There was a decrease in B&Es but an increase in theft,  possession of stolen property and  mischief;  he noted that the person  responsible for much of it is now in jail in another community for the same offences.   He stated that there has been a province-wide increase in “minor property” crimes.   He observed  that,  generally,  Rossland is a very safe community, with very low crime rates.    We have about 37 offences  per 1000 population;  Trail and Castlegar have 53;  Saltspring Island  has 41.    He commented that even in a relatively  “safe” community, people still need to lock their doors and  their cars.    Kruysse  asked how much Rossland pays for policing; Moore commented that  since our population is under  5000, we don’t pay directly, but we do have a budget line for policing an about  $175,000 of our taxes are paid for that.

Oelke noted that the most complaints he receives from Rossland are about speeding.   Oelke and Council members discussed speed boards and their availability and effectiveness.   Moore put in a request to borrow the RCMP speed board.  

A  motion to move discussion of strategy  into the public portion of the meeting CARRIED.   It  had initially been included in the  in camera   session, under Community Charter  section  90(1)(l), which is intended for  ” discussion with municipal officers and employees regarding  municipal objectives  , measures and progress reports for the purposes of preparing an annual report under section 98 [annual municipal report].”

Strategy  Discussion:

Council discussed items in their  “Action Steps Worksheet Results”  from an earlier strategic planning session.  The worksheet originally contained  112 items.  Council went through the worksheet  with an eye to consolidating items,  to come up with a more concise collection of actions.  They discussed items to ensure that they belong in a strategic  plan, rather than being simply operational,  and engaged in  quite a lot of wordsmithing.   It was a long session.  The following items are just random tid-bits from it.

Kruysse  expressed reservations about an item to consider the impacts of climate change on infrastructure;  Cosbey pointed out that although the planning process  doesn’t change, the numbers  to be considered in the planning  are very different  with climate change. 

On an item about reviewing staffing levels, which is  identified as a CAO  responsibility,  Cosbey commented that  the City  has had a lot of staff changes recently, and at no time has there been a review to ensure that there are enough staff for the work,  but perhaps Council needs to specifically delegate the task to the CAO.   The item was left in the  list of strategic actions.

Zwicker argued for an item supporting  food sustainability.  Greene wanted to rely on California, and said growing food locally is “inefficient.”  Kruysse  said local food  is not a strategic item;  Cosbey pushed back,  pointing  out that CBT is working with communities to figure out how they can support local food sustainability.   He pointed out that food security and local food production  is also  an adaptive strategy  (to climate change),  to protect local residents.    Kruysse noted that local governments can do many things to encourage local food production but does not consider them “strategic,”  as he is  “not  convinced”  that food shortages  from climate change are that likely to affect us greatly.   Zwicker pointed out that he regards local  food  production  as a potential  economic driver as well as a security issue.  The food item stayed in.

A motion that Council will send their  results from this lengthy discussion back to facilitator Jen Ellis, and she will create a revised version,  CARRIED unanimously.

Notice of Changes to Regular Council Meeting Schedule:  The meeting scheduled for November 9 is moved to November 10, and the meeting scheduled for November 23 is moved to November 24.  These changes are to enable  CAO/CFO  Cecile Arnott to be present for those meetings, as she had informed Council that she would  not be available to attend Monday Council meetings  for six weeks.

The Rossland Golden City  Quilters  Guild requested   to receive a 50% discount on the fees they have already paid for this year’s use of the Miners Hall, so they can donate the savings to the Rossland Museum for their renovation project.  Their  request for the same discount  was granted in 2013;  their shows take place every two years.   Council members spoke of the hazards of setting a precedent  giving up  City revenues  (perhaps forgetting that such a precedent had already been set in 2013), and pointed out that  the Miners Hall is already rented to not-for-profit groups such as the Quilters Guild at a special reduced rate.   The motion to grant the request was   DEFEATED unanimously.

Public works report:  Kruysse asked about the issue of  the City stopping  snowplowing  of  city  rights-of-way that are being used only as “private driveways.”    He wondered  whether each decision is actually fair, and  commented that Council should ensure that residents have an appeal process.   Moore commented that they can come to Council.   Cosbey suggested that an independent  person could come in and adjudicate any objections,  and   Añonuevo said she thinks there is further information coming from staff. 

Members Reports:  

Greene reported that the public  piano from Harry Lefevre Square  has found a new home in Trail, and that a new piano for Rossland  will appear in the spring. 

Zwicker  went to public skating and was surprised by how many people were present.   He reported that the Sustainability  Commission (SC)  meetings have moved to  4:30 pm, and that a number of new people want to join the SC.    Terry Miller has resigned  from the SC;  Alex Loeb will fill in as chair until the end of the year.   There is a desire to move the funding for the  SC  out of community groups funding and have it put into the City budget, and this will be suggested in a motion at the next Council meeting.  Zwicker also mentioned that the SC had decided not to deal with food issues.     

Zwicker reported that  anti-idling signs will be going up downtown.    Morel clarified that the anti-idling  bylaw applies to the whole City, not just the downtown area.  (Note:  the “anti-idling” bylaw is section 4.3 of the “Good Neighbour Bylaw” #2430.  It prohibits idling of vehicles for more than three minutes in the same location, with a few specified exceptions. The intention is to reduce the City’s carbon emissions and to improve air quality for residents.)  

Cosbey  reported that  broadband fibre is being laid, and said it should be  in and connected to various businesses by mid-November,  with service being provided by the ISPs  sometime in January.   Rossland Skatepark Association   will be coming to Council as a delegation on Nov 10.   They are planning to break ground in the spring of 2016, with  a revised  design for a smaller and less costly skatepark. 

McLellan reported that  Rossland’s percentage share  of regional  sewer flows was much reduced for a recent period. 

Moore reminded Council members of the Remembrance Day celebrations on November 11.   She reported that the Business Walk was very successful.    She  appointed  Morel to the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture sub-committee for the  Miners Hall renovation.   She had attended  the sod turning ceremony  for the sewer  pipe / pedestrian bridge in Trail, and an  RSS PAC meeting; she reported that  the parents  are concerned about dog feces in Jubilee Park (on the playing field, inside the fence),  and they have asked  for new  “No Dogs Allowed” signs.   

At approximately  10:10 pm,  Council recessed  to in camera  pursuant to Community Charter  ss. 90(1)(e) —  “the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality;”   and 90(1)(k) — “negotiations and related discussions respecting the proposed provision of a municipal service that are at their preliminary stages and that, in the view of the council, could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality if they were held in public.”

Your reporter packed up and wandered home in the black and gleaming-wet  night, feeling a bit weary  after over five hours of meeting,  and sympathetic  for the staff and councillors who still had to carry on for yet more meeting time.

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