A New Regional Rec Subsidy for Rosslanders; Skatepark Location Discussed
Council Matters: Rossland City Council, January 25, 2016
Council Members Present: Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Lloyd McLellan, Andy Morel, Andrew Zwicker, and John Greene. Absent: Marten Kruysse and Aaron Cosbey.
Public Input Period: Sean Miller, President of Trail Stingrays, a swimming club with a number of Rossland members, spoke. Miller detailed the efforts they have made to do away with the extra charges for non-resident recreation in Trail (TRP: Rossland residents pay twice as much as Trail residents to use recreational facilities in Trail, such as the Aquatic Centre). Stingrays are no longer threatened with bankruptcy, because of a grant , but Miller said “the TRP really does crush us.”
(Background: the City of Rossland has tried to negotiate with the City of Trail to pay an annual amount that would allow Rossland residents to use Trail’s facilities at the same price as Trail residents, but the two cities could not agree on how much that amount should be. Rossland offered $50,000; Trail wouldn’t settle for that.)
Tourism Rossland: Deanne Steven presented and asked that Council approve the RMI plan, which has already been approved by the province; and a letter of support for the hotel tax renewal application, seeking to increase the rate from 2% to 3% ( 84% of accommodators are in favour, but some are strongly opposed).
Steven requested funding from the City (community funding) tied to business license revenue. In exchange, she offered Tourism Rossland’s assistance with the business license process, and pointed out that last year Tourism Rossland leveraged every “city” dollar 22 times.
A motion to adopt the RMI strategy CARRIED; and a motion to write a letter of support for the hotel tax renewal application also CARRIED.
Morel asked about the “downtown business group” ; Steven stated that they are looking into ways to do more for the downtown businesses.
Moore asked about the fact that Tourism Rossland is putting $50,000 into work for the Region, but no other communities are contributing except by way of CBT funding; Steven responded that much of the work being done to attract people to Rossland is already regional, such as trails and golf, and that Rossland benefits from work done for the region.
Rossland Museum: Coming Right Along
Joelle Hodgins presented financial projections and other information from a 47 page report that was included in the Council materials.
In 2015, the Museum had the highest number of visitors since the mine tour closed in 2009 — a 48% increase over 2014.
McLellan asked about the Museum roof; Hodgins responded that it is a City building, and the City has been tending to it. The main portion of the building needs to have its roof replaced within the next few years. Manager of Public Works Darrin Albo noted that when the weather is suitable, the City will assess the state of the roof.
City Helps with Cost Sharing for Concession: A request from the Smokettes for City assistance to the tune of $58.50 CARRIED.
The City Joins Kootenay CarShare:
Zwicker and Morel expressed support for joining CarShare; “the City can save a bit of money and help a worthy organization.” McLellan was not in favour; he felt that few people would take advantage of it, and that it would not reduce the fleet. Planner Stacey Lightbourne said that reducing the fleet would be a long-term goal; she said that for attending conferences and such events, the four specific individuals signed up would have to use it.
The CarShare motion CARRIED with only McLellan opposed.
A motion that Council approves the $14,290.00 cost (plus taxes) of additional borehole drilling on Washington Street , from the 2016 capital budget, CARRIED unanimously. McLellan wanted to add discussion about moving the skatepark, but that happened later in the meeting.
(Update: Borehole drilling the day after this meeting punctured a water main which was inaccurately mapped. City staff have repaired the damage.)
Eazy Peezy Station at City Hall: A motion to approve the installation of a change station, step stool, and signage in an existing City Hall washroom, to meet the requirement of an “Eazy Peezy” washroom for public use CARRIED unanimously. McLellan spoke in favour of having a public washroom downtown that isn’t subject to limited hours, as are the washrooms at the library and City Hall. Moore agreed that Council needs to have a talk about that.
Financial Assistance for Using Recreational Facilities in Trail:
Council broke the proposal from staff into three separate motions.
First, to set up a $50,000 subsidy program and that Council honours the commitments made to groups in 2015 — a total of $9250; CARRIED unanimously.
Second, that Council set aside $14, 670 for 2016 to subsidize seniors, youth and the disabled; CARRIED unanimously.
Third: That the City use the amount remaining to subsidize other Rossland residents for the purchase of up to two ten-punch passes for the Trail Aquatic Centre. DEFEATED.
Discussion: Interim CFO Steve Ash showed the pass he had purchased that day, as an example of how they look and how they could be used for audit purposes. Morel expressed concerns about administering the funds, and making it fair. Ash pointed out that from an audit point of view, the ten-pass receipt makes it clear who bought it. He suggested that people could buy an annual or 6-month pass, but their rebate would max out at the value of the cost difference on two ten-punch passes.
McLellan was not in favour of limiting it to the Aquatic Centre. He pointed out that single-occasion users may be “people who take their kids down there for a birthday party.” Morel pointed out that Pickleball and badminton can be played in Rossland; we have the facilities for those things. Zwicker said thinks the first year will be a form of data-gathering, and next year’s system could be adjusted accordingly.
A motion to task Steve Ash to collect further information from Trail staff about recreational use of Trail facilities by Rosslanders CARRIED. Zwicker pointed out that there are Rossland residents who don’t go to the Trail facilities because they haven’t been able to access a subsidy, so the historical numbers will not tell the whole story.
Moore hoped that residents will tell the City what their needs are and what would most benefit them.
Community Grant-in-aid spending for the first quarter: a motion to allow Community Support applicants to spend up to 25% of the funds approved in the previous year’s budget in the first quarter of 2016, before the 2016 budget is finalized ; and that staff inform applicants of this, CARRIED unanimously.
Business Licensing Bylaw Update: A motion that Council directs staff to completely re-draft the Business License Bylaw, to simplify the regulatory clauses and replace the fee schedule with a simplified fee schedule, reducing the number of categories and sub-categories in the current bylaw, CARRIED unanimously.
(Editor’s opinionated note: The current licensing bylaw is a 13-page monster (“a dog’s breakfast,” said Moore) dating back to 1997 and containing a great amount of detail, some of it amusing, such as a definition of “Social Escort” and “Social Escort Service” which could be interpreted to apply to persons leading hikes or snowshoe tours. The terms “Social Escort” and “Escort Service”, having been defined, never appear again in the bylaw, even in the 3-page schedule listing 114 categories of business and the applicable fee for each; the annual fees are either $200, or else $100, with only one exception: a vending cart business license is only $50.)
Zwicker noted that the process could be simplified and possibly made accessible on-line; he was happy about Steven’s offer to assist with the process. Moore brought to Interim CAO Lynne Burch’s attention Council’s desire for a reduced fee for farmers, discussed before Burch arrived.
New Water and Sewer Rates: Council gave first and second readings to new bylaws setting new rates for water and sewer, increasing them (by 4.5%) for the first time in several years. Once the bylaws are adopted, the new rates will take effect in the second quarter of this year.
Council adopted the Revenue Anticipation Bylaw unanimously.
Temporary Borrowing Bylaw: Council gave first, second and third readings to this bylaw.
Albo reported that Queen Street will be closed on January 26th to prepare for the Winter Carnival’s Rail Jam event, and the affected homeowner has been notified.
Zwicker appeared on CBC’s Morning Show and will be on EZ Rock tomorrow (Tuesday) about his food security initiative. He asked for a motion that the City recommends that the SC support the food security initiative with a contribution of $5000 to be paid over a period of two years, starting 2017; there was no seconder, so the motion died. Discussion: the money committed by the City at its previous meeting ($20,000 over three years) already included $5000 from the SC.
Zwicker noted that the Sustainability Commission is looking for a new Chair; a motion to put out an ad appealing for volunteer applicants for the position CARRIED.
Zwicker reported on the BC Tech Summit held in Vancouver, and on the prize awarded to “ThoughtExchange,” a Rossland business, for their “Innovation Showcase” pitch. ThoughtExchange won $5000 cash plus about $120,000 worth of IBM cloud services, over a wide range of impressive competition.
Morel attended a Library Board meeting — the current chair has been doing a good job, but is obligated under the Library Act to step down this year, so they need a someone else to step up. They’re also seeking new members. Interested people can contact Morel at email@example.com
McLellan reported on the sewage flow measurements, which will determine how much money Rossland must pay to the Regional District for sewage; our year-to-date percentage of the total sewage flow is 19.32. So far, Trail has contributed 67.28%, and Warfield 13.4%.
KCTS are also seeking a funding boost from the RD in line with Cost of Living, and McLellan hopes they get it because they do such good work.
McLellan says he wants to get the Fire Services Task Force under way; Moore pointed out that McLellan was appointed Chair of that Task Force.
McLellan suggested that there is widespread support for the skatepark, but not for the location; he wanted Council to investigate the Arena parking lot to see if it might be better. Moore asked if there was any consideration of the Arena parking lot as RSA location at the beginning of the site selection process; Albo could not recall, but noted that it used to be “a big gully” and he doesn’t know what was used for fill. The RSA informed Council in an e-mail that the Arena parking lot was dismissed by the City at the beginning, the RSA has already invested about $30,000 into the Emcon site, and moving the location would set them back at least a year.
Zwicker strongly supports sticking with the current location, and so does Morel, who referred briefly to the site selection process report which contained input from 40 communities with skateparks, with strong recommendations for a central and highly visible location.
McLellan made a motion to investigate re-locating the skatepark ; it was DEFEATED.
Moore noted that the members of the Washington Street Project advisory group, Matt Tonner, Don Smith, Dave Watson and Riley Spencer, have been selected and appointed, and will hold their first meeting on January 27th.
Council recessed to an in camera session under Community Charter s. 90 (1) (c). Your reporter paused to get into her spiked footgear before venturing out onto the icy streets, and crunched home feeling thankful for this winter’s snow, and hoping to get organized enough to spend more time out snowshoeing through the forest instead of hunched over a computer feeling blood vessels sludging up and former muscle tissue atrophying.