Illegal Airbnb Rentals, Bylaw Enforcement (Sometimes), and Some Prayers at City Hall, for Council

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
June 1st, 2016

Rossland City Council — 3  Meetings on May 30, 2016:

1.        The CoW:  Council  met as a Committee-of-the-Whole  at 2:00 pm at the Seniors’ Hall, to refine the DRAFT materials created by Terry Miller for a public process gathering residents’  thoughts, priorities and ideas about how Council should allocate the tax dollars that it has any choice about allocating.  There is a lot of information to be presented so that people can make well-informed choices and suggestions, and Council members discussed how best to present that information. 

Council emphasized the importance of making it clear that no area is being targeted in advance for reductions.  They walked through one of the suggested exercises to see what the results would be, and found that although individual responses varied, some patterns did emerge.  Council is planning to obtain input from randomly selected residents in order to reduce bias in responses.  A suggestion that it would be interesting to compare the results of the “random selection” process with results from another group of interested people who  actively wanted to participate brought a wry comment about “scope creep.”   

Miller will make some adjustments to the materials;  and your reporter rushed off to Ferraro’s to find something really fast to prepare for dinner in order to get to the 6:00 pm  Public Hearing and Council meeting on time.     

2.         6:00 pm:  Public Hearing  on Bylaw #2610 to rezone 2026 St. Paul Street from  R-1 (Infill Residential)  to R-2S (Two Family Detached Residential Small Lot):

The neighbour immediately to the south, and downhill, of the property slated for rezoning spoke in favour of  increased density and this application in principle, but has particular concerns about storm-water management, snow storage, set-backs, and parking.  City Planner Stacey Lightbourne spoke to each concern, and Moore suggested that Public Works Manager Darrin Albo visit the site in person.

No one expressed any concerns about Bylaws # 2611 and #2612 to amend the  OCP and rezone  the eastern half of the Emcon lot to Parks, Trails, and Open Space.

3.         Regular Meeting of Rossland City Council, May 30, 2016

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

Staff:  CAO Bryan Teasdale, Executive Assistant Alison Worsfold,  Consulting Manager of Finance Steve Ash, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne,  and Public Works Manager Darrin Albo. 

(The corner of the Council chamber occupied by City staff seemed uncomfortably  crowded, so Council agreed to experiment with a different arrangement of seating to make more room.  Moore lost a bit of excess elbow room in the process.)


1.         Peter Holton of the Selkirk College Integrated Environmental Planning Program, and three of his students,  presented an update on three Rossland Life and Environment Action Plans.   The college provided the City with a binder containing hard copies of all the plans (there are 13 altogether),  and digital PDF versions.

Chelsea Mathieson presented the “Complete Streets Action Plan”  intended to increase safety, accessibility, sustainability, and community resiliency.  To familiarize herself with Rossland’s streets, she  spent time walking Rossland’s streets in the winter, with special attention to  priority areas identified by the City:  Thompson Avenue, St. Paul Street, and McLeod Avenue.  She recommends using a portable traffic camera to gather data first,  then to develop a strategy to address issues identified; then   implementation, review and  re-evaluation, and monitoring. 

Suzz Bergler spoke about the proposed  conversion to LED street lights.  She mapped and  examined the locations of current lights, then the power consumption of our current lights compared with replacement by LEDs, and  estimated a seven-year payback period for the cost of total replacement in Rossland, from the savings in electricity usage.  Kruysse asked about the colour spectrum of the lights;  Bergler replied that most manufacturers started out with blue light because it uses less power, but are responding to public complaints about blue light by making lights toward  the warmer side of the spectrum. 

Jessica Swain spoke about the different factors to be considered in an “Urban Forestry Plan”  and listed  advantages of having more tree-canopy coverage in the city, with a plan for achieving and managing  it.   

Recommendations from the City’s Financial Audit:

2.         Andrea Kramer from Berg Lehmann Chartered Accountants  gave a presentation on the  City of Rossland’s 2015 Financial Statements, received by Council on May 16.  She spoke to the three  suggestions  in her letter to the City:  the first was to keep an updated record of the City’s “tangible capital assets.”   The second was to perform monthly  balance sheet account reconciliations.  The third was to do a more formal review of potential City liability for City-owned contaminated sites, and  to  keep the applicable documentation.    Moore mentioned that the standards are not very clear.  Kruysse pointed out that if any City-owned land is offered for sale, the land would have to be assessed.  Kramar recommended that the City begin accruing funds for future clean-up requirements.

Red Resort Association — what it is and is not:

3.         Deanne Steven of  Tourism Rossland  gave a presentation on  Red Resort Association, apparently to clear up some misconceptions being aired in the community.   She answered the question “what is a resort association?”  There are only three in the province, and one is here; the others are at Whistler and Sun Peaks .   They are governed by provincial legislation:  the  Resort Associations Act.   Red Resort Association is a registered non-profit society founded in 2007.  Its board of directors consists ofNancy Trotman,  Christine Andison and Spencer Clements.   Originally created by Red Mountain Ventures  “as part of the development of the resort,”  the Red Resort Association is administered by Tourism Rossland.  112 members of the association pay annual fees to help support it.  Its website is here.

Cosbey queried — what is the mandate of Red Resort Association?  Steven responded that the association is for marketing  Rossland as a whole; it is not a strata management organization, it does not rent or manage properties, it does not promote any properties, and is purely a flow-through funding organization.

Have your say:  the Free-Ride Shuttle and BC Transit

BC Transit is having an input session this week,  and Steven urges everyone to respond.  She would like to see if there is a way to partner with BC Transit or have them take over the Free-Ride  Shuttle Bus.    Cosbey asked whether Transit has been open to communicating about it;  Steven said no, Transit would communicate with the City, not with Tourism Rossland.  Cosbey pointed out that Transit is considering cutting out the route that goes to Red, because of low ridership;  the low ridership is because of the free shuttle, and that the free shuttle is because the Transit run did not go often enough to be useful.    McLellan expressed concern about the amount that Rossland pays for Transit.  Kruysse thinks there’s a way to  make the system better.    Steven said that for the previous 2 years,  60% of Free-Ride Shuttle users were visitors and 40% were local.

Kruysse moved   that council consider a motion, in co-operation  with Tourism Rossland,  to suggest discussions with BC Transit  on how to enhance bus service between  Rossland and Red Mountain.    McLellan said he thinks it’s very important that people go to the BC Transit input session at the Rossland Public Library on Wednesday, to give input to Transit about the need for better service to Red.   Zwicker wants the final motion to be strongly  and persuasively worded.  Kruysse’s motion CARRIED unanimously.


Council gave third reading to three bylaws:   Bylaw #2610; and  Bylaw #2611, to amend the Official Community Plan by changing the zoning for the eastern half of the property known as “the Emcon Lot,” and Bylaw#2612, to rezone the Emcon Lot  from  “Mixed Use” to “Parks, Trails and Open Space.”

Progress on Projects:

Albo gave a brief  verbal update on the Washington Street project — it’s on budget and on schedule.  Next week there will be a crew coming in to begin “road prep.”

The Miners Hall work is going well; Trail Roofing has begun removing the old tin roofing, and the City should have final drawings for the interior by next week.  

Kruysse asked about the LED street light pilot project in Pinewood.  Albo said the work  will probably start in about two weeks, and should  take about a week to install the lights.  The City’s electrician has now been certified by Fortis.  

Bylaw Enforcement coming up:

Albo explained that,  for any  workers recovering from an injury,  the City has no regular “light duties” — so Albo suggested  that bylaw enforcement would be a good  light-duty  task , with some training.  Council discussed the best way to initiate such enforcement,  with a variety of opinions.   Moore mentioned that  several  scoff-law  drivers are still going the wrong way up Spokane Street.   Apropos of another common traffic issue,  Albo reported that the speed board will be arriving shortly.   


Council received a letter from a couple living on Cedar Avenue, claiming compensation for damage by flooding to their home that they  blame on work done to restructure  a trail above their home.   Council has not yet received any information  from the Municipal Insurance Association adjustor who has been working on the claim, so cannot respond yet.

Members ReportsHeritage talk, and the Piano in the Park

Greene reported that  Jackie Drysdale will be  doing  a presentation at the Legion on June 9th, and thinks it would be beneficial for employees of downtown businesses to attend so they can pass on interesting historical knowledge to others.  He noted that the “piano in the park” should be in place by the end of next week.

After a discussion with staff and engineers about liquid waste management,  Zwicker moved to rescind his motion (to pursue the concept of a stand-alone plant for Rossland) from the previous meeting; CARRIED unanimously.  Then he made a motion to suggest that the RDBK  investigate solar aquatics and its incorporation into regional plans; McLellan thought that motion was too specific; he didn’t want to limit the technologies to be investigated to solar aquatics alone, and said he thinks Rossland has  very strong and capable representation on the committee.   Zwicker agreed to add “and other new technology,” and the motion CARRIED unanimously.  

Take note, illegal  Airbnb rentals:

 Zwicker then spoke about the Airbnb  issue.  The City will be sending notices to the 61 or so (at this time)  non-compliant Airbnb rentals in town.  This is part of the strategy created earlier for dealing with the issue;  other parts include explaining the current  legal requirements (zoning for the use),  and creating a committee to discuss the matter and come up with recommendations for resolving it.  The City’s intention is to invite non-compliant Airbnb renters to participate on the committee.

Kruysse reported on his role as liaison between council and Tourism Rossland, and answering questions posed by members of the community, doing what he can to clear up misconceptions. 

Seven Summits Centre for Learning:

Cosbey  reported that  Seven Summits Centre for Learning  is still working on its decision on how to operate next year, since they are no longer allowed to work with SelfDesign.  He pointed out that  Seven Summits Centre for Learning is “an extremely valuable asset” to Rossland,  in part because without it,  Rossland cannot have the Ski Academy

McLellan asked if School District 20 could partner with (sponsor)  Seven Summits;  Cosbey explained that SD 20 has done everything  in its power to quash Seven Summits, including forbidding the use of any SD 20 property by Seven Summits ;  and refusing to sell any SD 20 property without a provision prohibiting the property from being used after the sale  for any independent school (such as Seven Summits); and he thinks there is no possibility of any partnership or co-operation.   He noted that SD 20 is facing a huge budget shortfall this year, so they are instituting a busing fee of roughly $200 per year, which selectively penalizes only the families of kids who have to take the bus. 

Morel  attended the Lower Columbia Community Development Team meeting.  He spoke  about the controversial blood monitoring program — the controversy is because it is so public, and Trail residents aren’t comfortable with having their community associated with lead levels and monitoring. 

McLellan moved  that the motion from the previous Council meeting to appoint Martin Kruysse to the Lower Columbia Initiatives Committee  be rescinded  (“it’s too late in the evening for Marten”) , and that Aaron Cosbey be appointed instead;  the motion CARRIED unanimously, though  Cosbey had suggested he might  vote in opposition.  

McLellan also attended the liquid waste management technical advisory committee meeting,  and  met with Albo  about  the drainage problem at the Seniors Hall.  He attended  the Regional District of Kootenay boundary meeting at Westbridge.  That gathering  included a tour of a woodlot, and McLellan found it  fascinating to see how much better  tree growth can be obtained with good forest management.    Finally, he again urged everyone to go to the Library on Wednesday between noon and 2:00 pm  to give input to Transit.

Council members mulled over the potential for a community forest, and Moore noted that she thinks it’s a great idea but Council’s workload is already quite heavy;  “There are more great ideas than we have the time or money to pursue.”

Moore reported on touring  Rossland’s  wetlands, both Jubilee and Centennial,  with a group including expert Tom Biebighauser, who gave her a copy of his book for the City.  To view his website on wetland restoration, click here.    

Praying for Council:

Moore  had a request from someone to come into Council chambers when no one is using the room,  to pray for the City,  “for Council’s wise decisions.”   Kruysse said he thought it was an inappropriate use of the City chamber, and that if the person  believed spirituality is everywhere, she could pray  on the bench outside City Hall.  Cosbey said he liked the idea because  “we need all the help we can get.”   None of the other councillors had a problem with letting her come in, so Moore said they would give it a try.  The person who wishes to pray will check with staff first.  

Surviving City Hall— the book.

Having attended the book launch and reading in Nelson, Moore has read and highly recommends the book by retired Nelson Councillor Donna Macdonald,  Surviving City Hall,  especially for anyone considering running for a Council position.

Council recessed to an in camera  session, and your reporter walked home under a blue sky wisped with a few clouds, marvelling at how wonderfully light and bright it was at that hour.

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