Regional Emergency Planning; Boxing Day Classic; Short-term Rentals; Food Charter, and Much More.
Rossland City Council Meeting, November 14, 2016
Six of our seven Council members were present (Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Lloyd McLellan, Aaron Cosbey, John Greene, Andy Morel, and Andrew Zwicker); only Marten Kruysse was absent.
Allan Davies honoured:
First up, Moore called on Allan Davies who was present in the public gallery, to thank him for his 61 years of service to Rosslanders and to give him a card congratulating him on his retirement, and a gift of locally made chocolates. She noted that he had pulled her car out of a ditch when she was a new resident here, and listed several instances of his kindness to various people. “We’ll miss you!” she declared. “Oh, I’ll still be around,” Davies responded.
Red is ready
Christine Andison (wearing her Red Mountain Racers [RMR] hat) spoke briefly during Public Input Period, to let Council know that RMR has three major races slated for early 2017: on January 22, the first Nancy Greene Ski League race of the year is expected to have about 200 racers speeding down the slopes; from January 31 – February 5, the TECK BC Open Race series for U16/U18 athletes will see about 200 competitors; and in mid-March, the BC FIS Cup Series should have another 200 racers taking part. Each race will bring to Rossland not only the out-of-town racers but also family members, coaches, and race officials.
Angus Graeme, President of Selkirk College and also a member of the Lower Columbia Development Team (LCDDT), gave Council an overview of Selkirk and its presence in the region. He noted that the key concepts in Selkirk College’s vision and mission statements are inspiration, transformation, and service, and that the statements are the result of input from about 3500 people. Selkirk College is celebrating its 50th anniversary; it is BC’s oldest community college outside of Vancouver, and now has eight sites in six different communities; this year it has budget of approximately 45 million dollars; in the 2014 – 2015 college year, Selkirk served a total of 11,780 students, including 485 international students. This year, the number of international students has risen to 629.
Graeme noted that in this region, post-secondary students are a “net import.” The number of students graduating from high school regionally has been declining for several years, and Selkirk has had to take steps to keep its enrollment up. Graeme also stated that he expects that trend to reverse in a few years, as elementary school registrations are on the increase. He spoke about the outlook for the labour market: he expects job openings to increase as more people retire — a relatively large segment of our working population is now at or nearing retirement age. Graeme hopes that bringing in and training international students can help fill the anticipated labour shortage in the next five to ten years.
Speaking of the excellence of Selkirk College instructors, Graeme showed a picture of Rossland resident and author Almeda Glenn Miller, who teaches there.
He stressed that Selkirk College offers many pathways to get people where they want to go; it is one of 30 institutions that offer baccalaureates, but also offers diplomas, certificates, apprenticeships, or “pathways to degrees.” He spoke of Selkirk College making post-secondary education more accessible to people who “might not envision themselves as being a college student,” and gave as examples people living below the poverty line, disadvantaged, single mothers, former youth in care “who start with nothing at age 18,” people whose parents or grandparents didn’t go to college, new Canadians, and a large group of people referred to as “NEETs” — “not employed or in education or training.”
He spoke of the rural pre-med program, now further supported by the Rural Family Medical Residency Program which this publication reported on in July of 2015, and referred to the pre-med program’s endorsement by the University of Calgary Medical School, reported on here in August of this year.
Deanne Steven explained to Council how and why Tourism Rossland could better serve the community if it could count on multi-year funding; as it is, planning beyond the end of a fiscal year is both needed — and impossible. Some assurance of funding beyond the end of a current fiscal year would also increase Tourism Rossland’s ability to access matching grants. She described a system that one local non-profit was working on: it would assure the organization of core funding for three years ahead, and each year the organization would seek approval for its fourth year of funding.
Agreement with the Rossland Museum
Council briefly discussed the proposed Memorandum of Understanding with the Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre, regarding the costs of Phase I of the Museums’ Renewal Project. All costs to the City are included in current budget; Zwicker asked, and both Manager of Public Works Darrin Albo and Museum Director Joelle Hodgins confirmed, that tipping fees for disposal of waste from the project are being waived. Moore explained that both the City and the public want to be able to see the full costs accounted for upon completion of the project. The motion to approve the MOU CARRIED unanimously.
Temporary Buildings at Red
Red Mountain Resort applied for an extension of a Development Variance Permit to allow six temporary buildings, housing resort operations personnel, daycare and first aid facilities, to remain in place. Council discussed the application and a motion allowing an extension until November, 2018, but stating that no further extensions would be granted, CARRIED, with Greene opposed.
Greene voted against the motion because he thinks imposing a time limit is telling Red how to run their business, and that Council shouldn’t do that. McLellan said that these temporary buildings have come before Council a number of times, and that the City has been looking for a permanent building to replace them for a long time, and he hopes that the time limit is a reasonable one. Moore acknowledged that in an emergency, the City would not be bound by the time limit in the motion, but that the City wanted to send a clear message.
A Generous Donor
Mr. Dale Unruh wants to donate $150,000 to the City, in return for naming the community space being developed on the fourth floor of the Miners Union Hall “The Unruh Keep” in honour of the Unruh family, and two commemorative plaques to be installed in the Miners Hall. Unruh will pay the donation in three yearly instalments of $50,000 each, starting in 2016. A motion to sign the agreement with the donor (referred to rather quaintly in the agreement as the “donator”) CARRIED.
Another motion, to re-tender Phase II of the Miners Hall renovation Project, CARRIED unanimously with no discussion.
That Pipe Bridge in Trail
A motion to endorse an agreement for the division of costs for the operation and maintenance of the Pipe Bridge in Trail CARRIED unanimously.
Another set-back reduced to very little
Council unanimously approved a motion to approve a Development Variance Permit for 2489 Cook Avenue, to reduce the front set-back to .8 meter.
A Zoning Amendment and the Short-Term Rentals Issue
Council moved this item forward on the agenda to spare interested parties in the gallery a potentially lengthy wait. The application was to re-zone the property at 2253 Washington Street from R-3, Multiple Family Residential, to C-3, Commercial Resort Accommodation. The motion under consideration was to give first and second reading to Bylaw #2626 to rezone the property, and to schedule a public hearing on the issue for December 12, 2016, with the condition that the applicant post the required signage within one week of this meeting.
Greene said he’d like it to go to public input. Cosbey commented that it seemed odd to be going ahead with this while awaiting a report on the issue of short-term rentals and the loss of longer-term rental space in town; Morel concurred. McLellan also registered some discomfort for the same reason, but said that getting public input on it at the December 12 hearing would be valuable. Greene agreed: “We’re not making any decisions yet.” Moore commented that the building in question is a good candidate for short-term rentals because of its location. The motion CARRIED with Cosbey and Morel opposed.
Bringing the City’s ancient IT into the modern age:
Council discussed a motion directing staff to implement an Information Technology strategy to improve City services, and to consult with CBBC, Shaw and Telus on their offerings. Cosbey commented that he has used a Shaw 150 service which is supposed to deliver a download speed of 150 Mbps, but that it “has never been more than 35. 35 download, and 15 up.” He also mentioned that he has been advised that “Cloud PBX” should be considered. He thought it would be good to understand not only what the costs of a new system are, but also what current costs will be replaced — what the net difference will be.
Moore expressed satisfaction that Council is finally “modernizing the Corporation.” The motion CARRIED unanimously. Council thanked CFO Elma Hamming for her report and complimented her on its high quality.
Acting Mayors and the Schedule of Meetings:
Moore clarified for the public that the schedule of “Acting Mayors” is only for times when she is unavoidably unable to be present at a meeting — it does not mean that she will be absent for all that time, or at any time. The motion to accept the rota CARRIED unanimously, as did the motion to accept the schedule of regular Council meetings for 2017 — after a lengthy but unsuccessful attempt at adjusting the schedule to accommodate Greene’s meetings with the Rossland Light Opera.
Getting back into the Regional Emergency Planning Service
Council bit the bullet and voted unanimously to pay the price of returning to the fold, having withdrawn from the service in 2008. All participating municipalities must vote in favour of the bylaw re-admitting Rossland to the service, before the bylaw is sent to the Inspector of Municipalities, then returned to the RDBK for final approval from the board.
The Boxing Day Hockey Classic
The Boxing Day Classic (BDC) is a Rossland tradition — a game that raises money for charity and uses the arena on a day when it would otherwise go empty. In the past, the City has allowed a lower rate for using the arena for this game, and the BDC committee asked for a reduced rate this year as well. Cash-strapped Council struggled with the request. Part of the factual background is that the Smokettes had traditionally played a game in the arena in February to raise money for charity, and have always paid the full rate.
Morel said he felt the City needs to earn more revenue from the arena, and should charge the full rate for BDC; Zwicker wanted to charge full price but then donate the difference to a charity of BDC’s choice; Cosbey liked that idea, and Zwicker proposed it as an amendment. McLellan opposed the amendment, wanting the City to be consistent: “We’re setting a precedent here,” he explained. Morel agreed with McLellan, and said this was a policy decision; he wants the arena to become a viable facility. Moore also agreed. Greene pointed out that it is not the City’s role to give out taxpayers’ money to charity. Cosbey wanted the history of giving a reduced rate on Boxing Day to count in making a decision.
Zwicker’s amendment FAILED, and the motion to charge BDC the full rate CARRIED unanimously.
“Oh this is so exciting!” — Moore
Council discussed a motion for staff to develop and submit a proposal for a grant for the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, for the Spokane Street Infrastructure Improvement project. This project will include works on Spokane from Second Avenue to LeRoi Avenue, and down LeRoi Avenue to Davis Street; and on First Avenue from Washington Street to Spokane Street. Moore balked at naming a specific figure in the motion, as the numbers might change; the motion ended up with the qualifier “up to” preceding a more rounded figure of $4,400,000, with the City committing to contribute 17% of the project total from internal sources. Discussing the figures, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne explained that funders need to see a City resolution with a commitment to provide a specified share of the project funding. The motion CARRIED unanimously.
The next motion Council CARRIED unanimously was to have ISL Engineering “complete activities related to finalizing the Spokane Street Infrastructure Project tender documents in the amount of $122,700.”
Council then unanimously CARRIED the motion that excited Moore: to “direct staff to develop and submit a proposal for the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund for the completion of a comprehensive Sanitary Sewer Inflow and Infiltration (I&I) Strategy in the amount of a maximum of $500,000 with the City contribution coming from internal sources.” Moore explained that she’s been wanting an I&I strategy for about six years now.
The rest of the bylaws: zip zip
Council then zipped through five bylaws, voting unanimously and without further discussion to: adopt the bylaw allowing for a larger craft brewery in the downtown core (#2619); to adopt both the Water Rate bylaw (#2622) and the Sewer Rate bylaw (#2623); to give first, second, and third readings to the Inter-Community Business License bylaw (#2624); and to give third reading to the Climate Action Reserve Fund bylaw (#2625). Readers may recall that Council had already discussed all of these items comprehensively in previous meetings.
Council looked at the Task List, Building permit reports, and received an update on the Washington Street project. Albo commented that the Rossland citizens affected by the projects responded very well to the inconvenience; Greene commented that he thought that was partly because the CopCan people were so pleasant.
Zwicker listed benefits of developing a Food Charter and the several ways that it fits and supports a number of aspects of our Strategic Sustainability Plan, and pointed out the potential economic benefits of making more of our food production local. Greene queried, “Why re-invent the horse? When I was a kid, Lui Joe used to come around with his vegetables, and everybody had a garden, everybody canned — everybody did this.” Cosby pointed out that Food Charters are guiding documents, they are principles, and that they don’t commit councils to spending any money. It would, if eventually adopted, guide some of the City’s decisions. McLellan and Moore both commended the Food Charter people for the work they’re doing. The motion to approve the Food Charter Working plan as presented CARRIED unanimously.
And there was more
But this report is already over-long. Council did hear from McLellan that the new sewer pipe, of Pipe Bridge fame, broke after three days of operation and there was a spill directly into the Columbia River for a short while.
Council adjourned the meeting, with no in camera session following. Your reporter packed up and walked home in the dark, disappointed that the enormous “super-moon” visible earlier had been obscured by clouds, which produced surprisingly heavy rain shortly thereafter.