Wetlands and Campgrounds, Emergency Preparedness Problems, Post Office Fears, and more
Rossland City Council meeting, June 27, 2016
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Andrew Zwicker, Andy Morel, Marten Kruysse, John Greene, Lloyd McLellan and Aaron Cosbey.
Public Input Period: A resident had been reading the Annual Report, and wondered about its failure to mention the tennis courts. She said the courts are well utilized, and had recreation programs running on them, and felt they deserved to be noted along with Rossland’s other facilities. Moore said the omission was unintentional and would be corrected.
Another resident spoke on behalf of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), to encourage input for the Canada Post review of service. Concerns are that Canada Post could possibly close the Rossland Post Office, forcing Rosslanders to go to Trail for our mail. He stated that the internet has made Canada Post more viable, because of on-line sales with postal delivery, and that postal revenues are growing, not shrinking. He estimated that input from the public will be accepted until late in July. (Your editor was unable to find any deadline dates mentioned on the Canada Post website, but one avenue for submitting input can be accessed here.)
Delegation: Rossland Public Library. Beverly Rintoul explained the library’s Summer Reading Club and its importance for kids’ literacy. She introduced Lindsay Crispin, coordinator of the Summer Reading Club. Over 100 Rossland kids take part in the program each summer, and it makes a noticeable difference to developing their literacy. Rintoul invited Council members to join the program too — to read for at least 20 minutes a day, for 49 days. She emphasized how important it is for children to have adult role models who read. Moore asked whether reading Council packages counts (laughter) — Rintoul said, yes, all reading counts.
Recommendations from Staff for Decisionby Council:
1. Lions Campground Improvements: Three options were considered, and the one recommended would permit fill to extend six meters southward from a section of the existing campground roadway. This requires redistribution of the fill that has already been deposited in the area, to make a narrower but longer addition to the campground area.
Bill Profili spoke on behalf of the Lions, and indicated that reservations are coming in, and said that demand for fully serviced sites (with water, power, and sewer) is rising. More people are “camping with what are really mobile houses.” The Lions would like to have more fill extending further into the wetland. Profili mentioned an article he had read which stated that wetlands are a “bear attractant” as they enhance bear habitat. Moore responded that the Lions Club would not be held responsible for the presence of bears in the area as long as they ensure responsible management of garbage at the campground.
Council voted unanimously to adopt the recommended option, which is a compromise between the best solution for the wetland, and the larger expansion of the campground at the expense of a healthy wetland.
2. Postal Review: following discussion of a letter from CUPW, supporting the existence of post offices in smaller towns, Council unanimously passed a motion to send a letter to the Canada Post Review Task Force, and to make a submission to the parliamentary committee, in support of continuing postal service for Rossland and other smaller centres.
3. Regional Emergency Preparedness Service: The Chief Administrative Officer, Bryan Teasdale, recommended that Council consider “re-entry into the RDBK’s Regional Emergency Preparedness Service in 2016 and pay the total 2016 Service Requisition amount plus the City’s portion of capital investments made in that service since 2008.” McLellan suggested that the City’s letter in response should address the fairness of the assessment. Kruysse pointed out the mitigation efforts that Rossland has made regarding fire threat, and the trained personnel who would assist — “there is an equity contribution” and the funding formula doesn’t recognize that contribution. McLellan pointed out that Rossland is already allocating very nearly the same amount in our own budget for emergency preparedness, that Rossland doesn’t have the resources to handle a major emergency situation, and that “we owe it to the community” to join the service. Cosbey agreed with McLellan, but is unwilling to pay a whole year’s assessment for six months, as he thinks it’s punitive. He wants to defeat the motion. Zwicker agreed with Cosbey and suggested putting it off until January, and added that the assessment should be on a per capita basis rather than the current total-property-assessment basis, which is based on property valuations rather than on actual exposure to cost, or on potential benefit per capita or per household. Teasdale added that joining is definitely an “insurance policy” for the City; he understands the reluctance to pay a whole year’s assessment for part of a year. McLellan agreed that the assessment is unfair, but that one of the items on our agenda is regional cooperation; that it would be worth it for Rossland to “go the extra mile” and to try to address the unfair apportionment later. He also pointed out that if Rossland isn’t part of the regional emergency preparedness, there could be problems with insurance in the event of a major disaster; and that we could handle the expense of joining the service this year, but next year will be a challenge financially.
The motion on the table, to pay the full assessment of a whole year for 2016 plus a share of the capital expenditures for the past eight years, FAILED with only McLellan in favour.
Cosbey moved that Rossland wishes to re-join the emergency preparedness service, will pay Rossland’s full share of the capital costs for the past eight years and pay for the six months remaining of this year. CARRIED unanimously.
McLellan moved that if this offer is rejected, Rossland should enter into the service as of January 2017. CARRIED unanimously.
4. Facilities Rental Fees: CAO Teasdale also recommended that Council adopt a draft policy on waiving or reducing the City’s facilities and equipment rental fees for not-for-profit and community service organizations. The policy sets out eligibility for fee waiver or reduction, and clarifies that each case is dealt with individually on a case by case basis, and that the City’s financial situation is one of the several factors to be considered; it also sets out a process to be followed in applying for a waiver or reduction in fees.
Zwicker suggested amending the policy by favouring organizations who have looked elsewhere for financial assistance before coming to the City. He also suggested that a form be created, based on the policy, for organizations to use when applying.
Kruysse didn’t like the idea of the policy, said it wouldn’t work, and planned to vote against it. McLellan said he thought it did what Council wanted. The motion to accept the policy with Zwicker’s amendment FAILED with only McLellan in favour.
Zwicker expressed a desire to tweak the policy. A motion to refer the policy back CARRIED with only McLellan opposed.
5. Tourism Rossland: Teasdale recommended that Council consider renewing the City’s service agreement with Tourism Rossland (TR); a motion to that effect CARRIED. Cosbey pointed out that it wasn’t logical to have a two-year notice of termination for a one-year agreement; Council agreed to amend that term to “may be terminated by mutual agreement.” There was also a motion to consider a multi-year agreement after submitting any proposed changes to the “relevant stakeholders for review and comment,” which motion CARRIED unanimously. Cosbey noted that the staff report discussed the option of giving TR the City’s revenue from business licences, and objected to the idea as he thinks it’s an unsound practice. “If we want to give TR more money, then we should give them more money” and not base it on revenues from business licences.
6. Youth Action Network: the recommendation is for Council to renew the service agreement for YAN with Mike Kent’s “Ripple Effect Consulting” for $55,000 per year for program delivery and associated expenses for three years (ending in 2019). Taxpayers please note: the funding is provided by Columbia Basin Trust, not by the City of Rossland. Motion CARRIED unanimously.
7. Statement of Financial Information: A motion that the City approves the 2015 Statement of Financial Information package, to be submitted to the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development before June 30, CARRIED unanimously.
Steve Ash stated that this was his last official meeting as Interim Chief Financial Officer, and noted that he had originally signed on for about six weeks, but that somehow stretched to six months. He will continue working with the City’s new Chief Financial Officer for two tasks: to complete the City’s business plans, and to participate in the collection of public input on priorities for the City’s budget, and ensure that the 2017 budget is done more expeditiously than the 2016 budget. Moore thanked him for all his assistance — “You really stepped up, and it’s been just amazing. You’ve helped this council so much, and we really, really appreciate it.”
8. Development Variance Permit for 1005 Redstone Drive: to vary the front setback from 4 meters to 1 meter, because of terrain issues. The motion to approve CARRIED unanimously. Kruysse praised the staff report on it.
Council unanimously and efficiently adopted three bylaws in succession that had already been discussed and had received first, second, and third readings at previous Council meetings: #2610, #2611, and #2612.
Council reviewed its ever-lengthening Task List, received information from Public Works and Finance, and then dealt with Information Items; some selected bits of knowledge follow.
The Washington Street Project Report from ISL listed tasks completed, some unexpected setbacks and how they were handled.
Council reviewed the draft Terms of Reference for the Committee on Illegal Short-term Rentals; the City will publish an ad for volunteers.
The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development sent a letter to all local governments regarding the drought situation. Parts of the province are already very dry, and it is expected that others may become dry rather quickly if rainfall doesn’t continue. Moore suggested that the City should get its water restrictions up on its website. McLellan objects to the term “restrictions;” he thinks there should be “watering schedules” instead, because using the term “restriction” seems to stimulate people to water more than necessary, rather than conserving water.
Council reviewed draft Terms of Reference for a “Regional Co-operation Committee.” Cosbey commented that it’s a Rossland group, that will get together to discuss what areas of co-operation might have the most potential, before trying to address a regional group. Zwicker pointed out that the earlier representatives from other communities can get involved, the better. Council members agreed with that. Zwicker, McLellan, Cosbey and Moore are the committee members.
McLellan: The East End Services Committee of the Regional District of Kootenay-Boundary (RDKB) approved the purchase of an ATV to use in the event that a sick or injured person needed to be taken across the pedestrian bridge on a gurney. As Rossland’s representative, McLellan opposed it because a big-wheeled gurney could just be moved across the bridge by Search and Rescue people, probably more safely and efficiently than by using an ATV. McLellan noted that the flow monitoring for sewage flows is fairly closely confirming the original assessments previously set. He expressed disappointment that so few residents showed up at the public forum held in Rossland on June 23, to give their views on how sewage should be treated and at what cost.
Morel would like to see a delegation from Selkirk College in September, about how the college contributes to and supports all the local communities. He commented that a lot of unlicensed motorcyclists and ATVs (often with under-aged riders) are accessing trails, and using the roads and trails illegally. Moore suggested that Morel draft a letter to the RCMP for her signature.
Greene: Follies opening night is Tuesday, June 28. He answered a query about the piano in the park; it will be there till fall. There was a complaint about young children being left by the piano and just banging on it brutally and unmusically. Please remember, said Greene, the piano is a musical instrument.
Moore suggested amending the “Wildlife Attractant Bylaw” (#2505) to require people to place their garbage bags in cans with lids so that dogs, bears, ravens, and raccoons do not tear the bags apart and spread garbage around. McLellan made a motion to draft an amendment, and it CARRIED. Moore noted that Rossland is more assertively enforcing its existing wildlife bylaw; one ticket has been issued recently, for leaving a garbage bag beside a dumpster for which the culprit had a key.
McLellan also moved to draft an amendment to the Good Neighbour Bylaw by prohibiting the use of bear bangers in town, and the motion CARRIED.
Moore reported that Rossland has obtained a Bike BC grant for $236,000, and thanked City Planner Stacey Lightbourne for doing such an excellent job of writing the grant application.
The replacement for the bin wall on Columbia Avenue will be a plain concrete wall. Work will probably start in August and take about three months. The intention is to have at least one lane open at all times.
LED street lighting will be installed where Redstone Drive joins the highway.
The Miners Hall has provincial heritage designation, but not federal, which made the project ineligible for some funding, so the Heritage Commission is leading the work to apply for federal heritage designation, with help from the Museum and the City.
There have been complaints about people congregating boorishly outside RSS late at night and disturbing the neighbourhood, and Council suggests that residents report this to the RCMP when it happens.
At the end of Moore’s report, Council adjourned the meeting and headed off into the delightfully bright clear evening. Your reporter hastened home for a belated dinner, feeling profoundly grateful for the benign and temperate summer weather — especially considering things like the severe flooding in West Virginia, the recent hailstorms and flooding in Calgary, and the Stage 4 drought situation on south-eastern Vancouver Island.