LIVELY GATHERING AT THE OLD FIREHALL
The event was well-attended. Mayor Moore and our Member of Parliament Richard Cannings were there, and Council members John Greene and Andrew Zwicker, and a good crowd of Rossland’s other famously engaged citizens attended to view and discuss the displays created by Selkirk College students. The students were there too, to answer questions, discuss, and collect opinions and information.
Each display showed an aspect of Rossland, with an analysis of the current situation, and ideas for improvement. One such area was energy, with ideas for wind power and solar power. There was an illustration of a new solar “panel” that looks very sculptural and space-age, with an orb that intensifies the sun’s rays and produces as much power as three larger standard flat panels. Another illustration showed parking areas shaded by solar panel “trees” busy producing power as well as cooling shade.
Another booth promoted “complete streets,” with ideas to make Rossland’s streets more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, and to discourage speeding — a big issue in Rossland neighbourhoods, where children, pets, and seniors walk and socialize on streets that have no sidewalks, or in many cases, even shoulders where pedestrians can feel safe. Especially in winter, when plowed snow-banks narrow the streets.
One booth promoted food security and showed how much potentially arable land exists within Rossland, both in private yards and on public land, that could be used for food production; the enthusiastic student with that booth talked about alternate cropping methods and the most reliable types of vegetables to grow in Rossland.
Another student dealt with habitat for wildlife, such as frogs and the rubber boa (a vulnerable species of “special concern”), among many others. Rossland’s planned skatepark was mentioned at two different booths, both urging its construction at the Emcon site.
Affordable housing and historic mine sites had booths, and so did heritage buildings and parks and a plan for urban trees.
The air quality booth attracted a lot of attention; people complained about neighbours’ smoky wood-stoves and their habit of burning trash or yard waste (illegally), drivers idling their vehicles, and the dusty streets in springtime.
One student was encouraging people to support the idea of edible perennials in public spaces, to increase food security, provide educational opportunities, and enhance habitat for pollinators and songbirds. The plants suggested were chosen because they do not tend to attract bears. One was “Apios Americana,” also known as “groundnut” (not to be confused with peanuts) or “Indian Potato.” (Your reporter looked it up at home after the event, and promptly ordered a few tubers to try growing here.) Asparagus and the Sunchoke, or Jerusalem artichoke, were suggested, along with many other edibles.
There was a booth dedicated to non-timber forest products, such as mushrooms and huckleberries. It acknowledged the problems associated with exploiting such crops, including habitat degradation from excessive trampling, unsustainable over-harvesting, especially comercial; reducing forage for wildlife, and interference with traditional First Nations’ usage. How many of us think of those things when we go out to gather?
Some of the students’ ideas and suggestions may appear in the next versions of Rossland’s Strategic Sustainability Plan and Official Community Plan.