IDIOTS ON SPOKANE, BEAR BANGERS AND PLASTIC BAGS, AND WE SPEND A LOT ON ENERGY
Regular Rossland City Council Meeting, June 13, 2016, 6:00 pm
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Lloyd McLellan, Andy Morel, Aaron Cosbey, Marten Kruysse, John Greene, and Andrew Zwicker.
Public Input Period: Bear bangers
Dave Watson spoke to Council about “a developing public safety issue — bears, bear bangers and people.” There are bears in town, but he has never heard of a serious incident yet. He described bear bangers: very loud explosive devices to frighten bears, and intended for use in remote locations . He went on to describe how some Rossland residents are misusing the devices in town. Bear bangers have inherent dangers; if the bear gets frightened and runs away in the city, where will the bear go in its frightened state? What if that upset bear runs up against a person out for a walk, or a child playing in her yard? Watson said “We have to be bear aware” and “we have a good organization that speaks to that,” but “it’s completely irresponsible to go shooting things at bears” and scaring them into charging wildly through neighbourhoods in a state of fright or anger.
Moore said she has talked with our CAO and the WildSafe representative, and WildSafe will talk to people known to use bear bangers in town. Council will discuss whether to add a prohibition against using bear bangers in town to our “Good Neighbour” bylaw.
An 11-year-old Rosslander, Matilda, presented a poster listing ten different ways to help prevent the conditions that give rise to unnecessary bear killings.
1. Natasha and Sylvie, students of Seven Summits Centre for Learning’s grade 8/9 class, presented to Council on the topic of plastic bags: “Say ‘NO!’ to plastic bags.” Their proposition has two parts: first, to make Rossland plastic shopping bag free by 2018; second, to make Rossland free of all types of plastic bags by 2020.
They presented a number of facts about plastic garbage, including these: in Canada alone, we use between 5 and 15 billion plastic bags every year; plastic bags can take up to a thousand years to fully break down; animals ingest and choke to death on plastic bags and other plastic garbage; an increasing percentage of fish are found to contain plastic particles.
Cosbey appreciated the fact that they are talking to businesses, and urged them to work to resolving the problems cited by businesses. He suggested that they talk to Al Davies about the matter of collecting non-packaged garbage.
McLellan also praised them for their initiative, and is optimistic about improving our lot.
Moore suggested that they speak with accommodators as well, about the impacts on visitors.
2. We spend HOW MUCH on energy?! Saving Money by reducing energy use: Fortis rebates and low-income program
Trish Dehnel of Community Energy Association and Carol Suhan of Fortis “Power Sense” service gave a presentation on Fortis Energy Efficiency programs, and the Strategic Community Energy and Emissions Plan (SCEEP) for Rossland.
They reported that in 2010 alone, people in Rossland spent 11.6 million dollars on energy for our homes and vehicles. That’s over $3,200 per man, woman and child. Over half of emissions in Rossland (54%) come from transportation: vehicle exhaust. The materials provided to Council include a list of 40 actions to reduce energy use and emissions production, including supporting car-sharing and encouraging a switch to electric vehicles. They have agreed to help Rossland put together a “corporate action plan” to reduce energy use by City Hall.
Morel asked about the effects of an increase in demand for electricity with an increase in electric cars; Moore responded that the increase in electricity production to operate electric cars produces far fewer emissions than the equivalent use of gas or diesel-powered vehicles.
Suhan answered the question of why Fortis is interested in urging people to buy less of their products: it’s less expensive to limit energy use than it is to build facilities to produce more energy. She noted that heating water uses a lot of electricity, and spoke of Fortis’s various efforts to help reduce energy use at all levels, including a low-income assistance program. “Energy poverty is a problem for many low-income households.” Some low-income households could even be eligible to have a new refrigerator or furnace installed at no charge. Moore asked if this program is easy to find on the Fortis website, “because it wasn’t.”
Moore asked if there are rebate programs for municipalities: “Yes, actually, there are.”
Cosbey asked whether replacing the chiller in the arena would be eligible for rebates –“Yes” — and asked how long they expect the rebate programs to continue; “5 years or more.”
Recommendations from Staff for decision:
1. New snow blower attachment: motion to accept staff recommendation CARRIED unanimously. Kruysse noted that standardization often generates cost savings.
2. Information Technology Services Review for City Hall: out of four short-listed consultants, MYRA Systems Corporation of Victoria was recommended and chosen by unanimous resolution. There were no local contenders. Moore asked whether references had been checked; CAO Bryan Teasdale reported that a reference check provided support for the choice.
3. Appointment of liaison between City Hall and the Rossland Golden City Lions Club Campground committee: Moore pointed out that there are advantages to either option — appointment of a staff liaison or a council member. Cosbey said he thinks the liaison’s job is to represent the community’s interests from a Council point of view, and the liaison ought to be a councillor. He moved to appoint Lloyd McLellan; the motion CARRIED unanimously.
Moore noted that it would be good if the committee on illegal rentals could come up with draft suggestions on behalf of the City in time to give them to Peter Fassbender, the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, who has asked for input on the issue. The problem is not limited to Rossland.
There is still no report from the insurance adjuster on the Cedar Avenue water damage claim.
McLeod Avenue water shutoff call-out claim: a resident objected to the high charge for having City staff shut off the water after hours when a leak occurred on the home-owner’s side of the line, and City staff recommended lowering the amount charged for it, and for amending the scale of fees for other such call-outs. Kruysse questioned the practice of sending out two staff for after-hours call-outs. Manager of Public Works Darrin Albo explained that two people are on call, and that most call-outs do require two staff; council members discussed how calls could be better managed to save citizens money, especially when only one staff member is needed.
A motion to accept staff recommendation to reduce the bill from $450 to $309 was defeated.
Kruysse moved that the charge to the homeowner be based on calling out only one employee, which would result in a charge of $190): this motion CARRIED unanimously.
A motion to refer the charge-out policy to staff CARRIED. Albo has heard the discussion, and he will discuss it with his staff and bring back a draft policy, with rationale.
Public Works Update: Cosbey and McLellan both expressed appreciation for the updates. Morel questioned the City practice of fertilizing the grass in parks; Albo explained that keeping the grass healthy helps keep the weeds down, and it is City policy to not use herbicides for weed control .
A request came from the “National Health and Fitness Foundation” for the City to support an application for a Canada 150 grant. Moore acknowledged that if they were going to support the application, they would have to write a completely different letter from the template sent. Cosbey was not comfortable with supporting the letter, since no one on Council had ever heard of the organization ; a motion to not support the application CARRIED.
Your reporter looked up the National Health and Fitness Foundation, and discovered that it was founded in 2007, its address is given as #1250 — 1500 West Georgia Street in Vancouver, its total declared revenue of $15,000 all came from “other registered charities” and that its total expenditure of $14,657 was for “administration,” — more specifically, for “professional and consulting fees.” The organization has filed no contact person, phone number or website of its own; this information was on the “donate2charities.ca” website. However, former Rosslander and current Conservative Senator Nancy Greene Raine is one of the four directors, as is John Weston, who served two terms as a Conservative Member of Parliament from 2008 to 2015.
Council briefly reviewed Moore’s letter supporting inclusion of the Rossland Ladies’ Hockey Club in the BC Sports Hall of Fame, in the Pioneer category. The club was organized in 1900, and played continuously until 1918.
A few selections from Members’ Reports:
Cosbey spoke about Seven Summits Centre for Learning’s new partnership with School District 71, which operates distance learning with 50 of BC’s 60 School Districts. He described SD 71 as “highly ambitious and very efficient” and said that SD 71 has an “in-house recruitment operation for international students” and can include Seven Summits in their recruitment efforts. The school will now be part of the public school system, and the teachers’ salaries will be the same as the public school teachers.
Cosbey also reported that the YAN building at the Emcon lot is going well; there are no major environmental hazard issues. Construction will begin in the fall, and YAN hopes to move in by January. Skatepark planning is well underway, getting quotes and more detailed planning. RSA offers thanks to City staff for their help.
Kruysse recommended that people read the Tourism Rossland reports, and get back to Tourism Rossland with any questions. He noted that the City may get a letter from the former Rossland Chamber of Commerce about outstanding issues arising from its dissolution.
Zwicker has drafted Terms of Reference for the committee on illegal short-term rentals such as Airbnb.
Moore reported on her meeting with new WildSafe coordinator, Desiree Profili. People have been leaving trash in Sourdough Alley, which could result in more bears being shot (not to mention being unsightly and a blight on our fair community). Our MP Richard Cannings will be holding a public panel discussion on climate change action on July 4th in Rossland, with the Ecosociety. Cannings is seeking public input to take back to Parliament.
Moore spoke about safety concerns on the Washington Street project, and commented that there are still “people being idiots, driving the wrong way up Spokane.”
Moore briefly reported on the new hotel at Red, in response to Rossland rumours about why there seems to be a pause in construction. After talking with the owner, she reported that the first phase was built without a loan, but next-stage financing is now being put in place and the owner is hoping to open the hotel in the summer of 2017.
Council recessed to an in camera session regarding the “acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements.” And your reporter emerged into a refreshingly cool evening and walked home, observing the various signs of construction and renovation happening even in that short distance, contemplating how humans are such busy creatures, and hoping that humanity’s next phase of busy-ness can be directed at intensively remediating the damage our business is still doing to our biosphere and preventing further damage. That’s a large enough task to keep seven or eight billion humans busy for quite a while.