Hockey Talk, Airbnb issues, Washington Street Excavation Schedule, and More.

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
April 27th, 2016

Present:    Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Lloyd McLellan, John Greene, Andy Morel,  Aaron Cosbey, Andrew Zwicker.  Marten Kruysse  arrived at 6:25.

Staff:  new Chief Administrative Officer Brian Teasdale,  Consulting Chief Financial Officer Steve Ash,  City Planner Stacey Lightbourne, Manager of Public works Darrin Albo, Executive Assistant Alison Worsfold

Mayor Moore welcomed Brian Teasdale to his very first day on the job, and his first Council meeting; then invited Rossland poet and published novelist  Jennifer Ellis to read some of her work.  Ellis read an evocative and thought-provoking poem.

Public Input Period:

A resident spoke to the public budget presentation about the City’s finances, and said that the cost of recreation was “misrepresented” at 20% — she has done calculations and said that it comes out at 11.1%.  She characterized  the City’s presentation as divisive and provided  figures about the use of the  arena,  pointing out that most of it is for young people.  Moore thanked her and acknowledged the passion that she and others have for particular facilities and the activities they support.  She explained that the difference between the figures the City had presented and the figures that the resident calculated was that the City’s figures included capital costs, not just annual operating costs.  Cosbey also thanked the resident, but differed with her conclusion that Council was somehow targeting the arena.  The resident emphasized that Rossland arena  users have been paying “below market, for years” and would be happy to pay more to keep it running.   She said that 50% of our ice is rented by Trail Minor Hockey at a discounted rate.

A resident of Happy Valley said that as she was walking in town she was “accosted” by an unpleasant image, which was the poster for the recent  movie make-up workshop put on by the Rossland Youth Action Network.  She wanted to express her discomfort with our cultural acceptance of grotesque images, as well as violence and gore in movies — “a cultural thoughtlessness that should be challenged.”   She mentioned that too many young people now are not very literate, and  connects that with  excessive use of electronic devices.   She stated that studies now link youth desensitization to violence with their  frequent exposure to violent games, movies, and other media.    Cosbey emphasized that the unfortunate poster image was just a small part of one of many excellent and worthwhile programs done by YAN, but agreed with her points about imagery and its effects.

Rossland Search and Rescue people were present for their application later on in the agenda, and McLellan asked if they would be upset by moving their planned building to the NW corner of the arena parking lot instead of the SW corner, and enumerated its advantages: it’s more level, and is closer to the Public Works yard. Zwicker asked whether they had any idea of the appearance of the building yet, and they answered that they hoped it would be “attractive — and inexpensive.”

Delegation:   Rossland Youth Action Network— Mike Kent presented to Council on YAN’s submission to CBT in support of obtaining increased  funding to further YAN activities and development for the next three years.   CBT is now putting its youth funding into the new “Basin Youth Network.”  The City has allocated a building on the Emcon lot  to YAN, and YAN will refurbish it to meet their needs.  The YAN plan being submitted has had input from over 200 youth;  Kent was present to answer any questions from Council.  McLellan suggested that the other building (slightly to the north)  would be a better choice; Moore reminded him that Council had already made the decision.  Greene said he has looked at the building currently allocated and it’s solid.   McLellan asked if Yan was going to pay rent on the building; Kent said no, YAN is a program of the City of Rossland.  The Seniors do not pay any rent for the Seniors’ Centre, either.  A motion to approve YAN’s application CARRIED with McLellan opposed.

McLellan moved that  YAN  work with staff to consider whether or not  the more northerly building, favoured by McLellan, is worth changing  the original building allocation.  The motion failed  3 to 4.

Morel asked whether the building was subject to design review recommendations; Lightbourne said, no.  Kent indicated willingness to consult about the design anyway.

Delegation:  Greater Trail Minor Hockey Association— Murray McConnachie spoke about the Rossland Arena.  He acknowledged that we do pay more taxes than many of our “competing” areas.   He pointed out that the higher taxes here are balanced by lower costs for security and health and many other things in, for example, the US.   He said there are 60 Rossland youth in minor hockey, and 14 Rossland coaches.  “We have an incredibly dynamic group in this community, running hockey.”  He praised the work done by YAN,  as it “really solidifies this community.”  McConnachie acknowledged that he will be doing the hazardous material assessment on YAN’s building pro bono. He said he had it on good authority from a provincial minister that one of the province’s big expenses is mental health costs, including drug addiction in youth, implying that expenditures on physical activity would have a preventative effect.  He stated that a new program will be bringing more youth hockey players to this area for games, and will be needing more ice time.   “We can make that place (the Rossland arena) better. Your staff up there is fantastic.”   He pointed out that if the City considers shutting the arena down, they must consider the shut-down costs which are very large.   Greene said he was thrilled that so many people are supportive of the arena. 

Council Business:

The City responded to the April 11 delegation by the Trail Commercial Hockey League, explaining that though the City is not in a position to give financial help to the League with the additional Trail Recreation Program (TRP) charges at this time,  they will bear in mind the points made by their delegation when planning for the 2017 budget.  Zwicker  acknowledged that this year’s program is a pilot project, but would like a TRP subsidy to be fair for everyone.    Cosbey, Kruysse and Morel agreed that in 2017 Rossland should apply its lessons from this pilot effort. 

A motion to form a new “TRP Committee” was discussed, but failed.  Zwicker suggested that the TRP negotiation committee be “folded in” with the group looking at how to increase revenue from the arena, as those things are connected.  He stated that they need more data —  during the previous attempts to negotiate a settlement, they struggled with not having all the information needed to make the best decision. 

Council discussed a motion that Rossland participates as a pilot community in the Rural Development Institute climate change adaptation pilot program. Kruysse questioned whether  there would be any tangible benefit  from participating, and mentioned another climate change adaptation assessment initiative being funded by insurance agencies through Simon Fraser University, and wondered if the RDI program  might be redundant.  Morel pointed out that data from the RDI  assessment could provide a good basis for grant opportunities in the future.  The motion to participate CARRIED.

To comply with the requirements of the Community Charter, Council formally appointed, by a unanimous motion, Bryan Teasdale as Rossland’s Chief Administrative Officer.

The Rossland  Beer Company applied for a Development Variance Permit to reduce the required number of off-street parking spaces for the business from five to zero.  Council  denied the request.  Zwicker pointed out that although there is enough public parking available now, there may come a time when some of it is no longer available and  parking is still needed.   Businesses are usually required to pay something in lieu of providing on-site parking, and it would be unfair to businesses that have had to pay the required fee of $3000  each for on-site parking spaces required by bylaw but not provided.  Greene and Kruysse agreed.  Lightbourne explained that the problem is that the building takes up the entire lot, and there is no ability to find on-site parking.  Council recognized  and praised the owner for his business approach, but was concerned about setting a bad precedent.  Council  ultimately decided to vary the permit to the extent that the Beer Company would have to pay for only two parking spaces — $6000.

RCAC renewed its request for the “V-Formation” sculpture to be placed in the space just east of Mountain Nugget chocolate shop, on private land.   A motion to consent CARRIED, after discussion  of a potential additional  space, with Zwicker opposed.

Council considered another Development Variance Permit for 939 Redstone Drive, made necessary because a storm drain was “misaligned”, making it impossible to build the planned home without adjustments to the setback.  The owner also requested an increase in the width of his driveway, and offered additional snow storage space to the City in return.  The variance was granted.   

Scaffolding for the Miners Hall:  the price has gone up.   The City received five bids on its tender for the Miners Hall scaffolding, and offered the job to the lowest bidder, Industrial Scaffold Services of Nanaimo.  Industrial had bid $33,850 plus GST, but has now withdrawn their tender.   The second lowest bidder, Chinook, was disqualified for using the wrong form.  DJM Construction of Rossland was the third lowest bidder.  The City has negotiated with DJM, and DJM has offered to do the scaffolding for $50,000 (instead of their original bid of $66,948) and to partner on it with Chinook.   The additional cost will probably  require dipping into the 10% contingency allowance for that shortfall and others, so Council  approved a withdrawal from reserves of the full contingency amount ($38,000) and to return any unused portion to reserves.

A recent announcement by the federal government that additional  grants will be available for Search and Rescue groups has prompted Rossland Search and Rescue to prepare for a grant application.  To that end, they asked the City for a location to build what they most need:  shelter for their vehicles and gear, and a meeting space for planning and training.  Council passed a motion to set aside a portion  of west side of the Arena parking lot for a SAR building, and to provide a letter of support.

The owners of 2026 St. Paul Street applied for a zoning amendment (from R1I to  R2S) to allow construction of a “small lot duplex.”  Council gave first and second reading to the bylaw # 2610.  The public hearing will be on May 30, 2016.

Council gave first and second reading to OCP amendment bylaw #2611, and then  gave first and second reading to  bylaw #2612   to rezone the eastern half of the Emcon Lot from “Light Industrial” to “Park” zoning, which will add certainty to the skatepark  build.  The first and second reading is the first step in a process that will include a public hearing on May 30.

Consulting Chief Financial Officer Steve Ash presented a  Five Year Financial Plan, based on months of calculations and on public input.  Council gave first reading to Bylaw 2613 (the 5 year plan).

Ash also presented a proposed bylaw #2614, to set Rossland’s tax rates for 2016.  The bylaw sets an overall increase of 3.5% in the City’s portion of our tax bills.   Council gave the bylaw first reading.   Cosbey joked that the “rates have gone down, but the taxes are going up.”  Ash explained that property assessments by BC Assessment Authority have gone up in Rossland  by 4.6%, but the taxes payable will go up on average by only 3.5%, which means the rates have gone down. 

Then, having done the heavy lifting, Council examined the updated Task List for further signs of progress.

Ash  gave Council  information on the Washington  Street project and how the funding and cash flow is being approached.

Albo stated that ground will be broken  next week.  The work will be approached in 3 phases;  from 1st Avenue to 3rd Avenue will be Phase 1; from 3rd Avenue to 6th Avenue will be Phase 2; and from 6th Avenue “up to the top” will be Phase 3.   The contractor is hoping to complete each phase in about six weeks.  School, bus, ambulance and services such as garbage  will be updated regularly.   Homeowners will be notified when there are water shut-offs or other major inconveniences.  There will be a link on the front page of the City website.  Albo said that the contractor plans to do the work one block at a time, to minimize the extent of inconvenience at any one time.

Moore encouraged residents to sign up for City’s e-mail list, to receive updates on the construction and other City news.

The Rural Dividend is a grant opportunity for two possible grants, one larger and one under $10,000.  Council discussed what project the City should use as a basis for Rossland’s applications.  Moore suggested that putting together a plan for the mid-town transition area (the Emcon lot and nearby City-owned properties) could be a “winning proposal.”

Cosbey argued in favour of pursuing  improving the Lions Campground, as an economic development project.  Lightbourne noted that it would be the easiest grant to apply for.  A number of other possibilities were assessed.   After discussion, a motion to apply for a grant for the Museum (a big grant) CARRIED.  For the smaller grant , Council passed a motion  to apply for the Mid-Town Transition Area planning project. 

Council agreed to provide a scholarship for the  KC Learning Centre alternative school in Trail.

Tourism Rossland sent a letter to the City about unauthorized Airbnb  short-term rentals, which are in unfair competition with legal short-term accommodation.  Zwicker  proposed a two-step process: for the first step, instead of immediately  imposing penalties, Council would contact unauthorized landlords with  a grace period, plus information on how to comply.  For the second step, the City would set up a group to consult with accommodators on how to manage short-term rentals.   Lightbourne mentioned that there are other possible ways to regulate short-term rentals than by zoning.  Zwicker’s  motion to send non-compliant landlords a letter, and a copy of the bylaw, explaining how to become compliant, and committing to initiate a process to determine how best to manage short-term rentals  CARRIED unanimously.

Council approved their agreement with Rossland Mountain Market for the summer market season.  Your reporter noticed that the agreement did not include the “Garden Festival” Market event planned for May 19, but staff explained that the Market has not approached the City about that date.

Cosbey moved that Council convene a committee on regional co-operation, and the motion    CARRIED unanimously.

Morel  and Moore both attended “Hot & Bothered in the Kootenays” in Nelson.  Morel reported comments by a well-known speaker to the effect that if we’re tired of climate change, we haven’t seen anything yet.

Council then recessed to an in camera  session, and your reporter walked home in the dark, enjoying the cool evening and the fragrance of new leaves.

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