COUNCIL MATTERS: Scoff-laws beware! A preview of the Miners Hall reno; Street-light changes; and more.
Council began with a Committee-of-the-Whole (CoW) meeting at 5:00 pm on Monday, June 12, 2017, for presentation and discussion of the basic principles guiding Council in building its asset management plan and related policies. John Weninger, Financial Sustainability Strategist partner in Urban Systems, presented information, answered questions and discussed options with Council members and staff. All Council members were present.
Weninger said, “The financial policy is really meant to create a blueprint for the decisions you make on how you invest your capital spending, and other spending, with the goal of making sure that there are good decisions being made, so your community is sustainable over the long term.”
The guiding principles were introduced as:
Resilience: The City shall operate in a manner that will allow it to successfully adapt to future challenges or events and ensure we remain a sustainable, smart and fun City
Flexible: Financial decisions shall ensure future flexibility to adapt to opportunities and changing circumstances
Fairness: The City shall operate in a manner that takes into account the financial effects on future generations as well as on the distributional impact on the current population
Value: The City shall provide cost-efficient and effective services and ensure that public resources are put to the best possible use
Prioritize: The City shall look to prioritize investments in accordance with the current and future needs of the community
Transparent: Financial strategies, plans and processes are accessible and visible.
Councillor Lloyd McLellan commented that the thought it as “silly” to use the words “smart and fun” in the first principle. Mayor Kathy Moore stated that those words are used in Rossland’s Strategic Plan, “so you’re outvoted.” McLellan responded with a grin, “This is not rare.”
Council went on to discuss the different policy areas, starting with property taxes, then moving on through utility fees, public facility user fees, reserve and surplus funds, debt, grants, development financing, and asset renewal, and ending with new capital investment. Councillors provided a few suggestions, and Chief Administrative Officer Bryan Teasdale noted that their input will be incorporated into an amended version to come forward at a future meeting.
There was a strong smell of pizza in the building, and those present fortified themselves for the next meeting, which started at 6:00, with a slice or two.
6:00: Regular Council Meeting: All Councillors were still present.
Public Input Period:
A resident spoke about a number of concerns, including her wish for a certain street lamp near her house to remain (some street lights deemed redundant are slated to be removed); and about the safety of the Eddie J trail where it pops out onto, and crosses, the highway.
Cosbey commented that the City needs a process for accepting and weighing residents’ requests regarding street lights. City staff will, over the next few months, cover lights being considered for removal with black garbage bags. Residents may wish to consider whether or not having a particular light removed will be problematic for them. Whether or not a given light stays, or is removed, will likely depend on the preponderance of neighbourhood wishes, if any, and the decision will be final.
Caley Mulholland spoke on behalf of the Sustainability Commission’s Food Security Task Force to encourage Council to adopt the Food Charter.
Ann Damude, speaking for the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture (RCAC) Miners Hall renovation, announced that there will be an opportunity for residents to view the interior renovations between 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm this Sunday, June 18. She stressed that this is not an “opening” — just a preview.
The “Salmo Dinner Jacket” award: Moore took advantage of Damude’s presence to give her a red-and-black checked wool jacket as a token of Council’s appreciation for Damude’s highly successful management of the conference of the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments, held in Rossland this spring.
The Rossland Food Charter:
Cosbey expressed appreciation for the thorough process and community input that gave rise to the Food Charter. Councillor Marten Kruysse sought clarification about whether or not the Charter would mean that it took priority over all other community directions, such as infill; Planner Stacey Lightbourne explained that no policy document at this level overrides all others. The motion to adopt the Rossland Food Charter CARRIED unanimously.
Development Variance Permit Application: 2460 Fourth Avenue
The application was for a height variance of 1.1 metre, to build a secondary suite over a new garage on the property. Moore noted that it’s very difficult to make a comfortable living space above a garage within the current height restriction, and suggested changing the bylaw so that approval would be automatic as long as the design fell within a new, higher height limit. Lightbourne noted that Council had declined to do that in the past; and Cosbey commented that he likes the fact that each application must be considered on a case-by-case basis, because there may be proposals that should not be approved because of an adverse impact on a neighbour’s view or sunlight.
Rossland will be enjoying a degree of bylaw enforcement starting this summer. A motion to award a contract for bylaw enforcement services to Selkirk Security Services Limited CARRIED unanimously.
Cosby commented that the success of bylaw enforcement is likely to depend heavily on the personality and attitude of those providing the service.
Review of the Good Neighbour Bylaw:
Council thanked Teasdale for the improved clarity of the amended draft bylaw, and discussed a number of its provisions. There was new language restricting the use of bear bangers to scare off bears in town, but Cosbey suggested that their use should simply be prohibited within the City limits as it is too difficult to prove intent. The prohibition is based on safety considerations: a startled bear charging into a neighbouring yard could be hazardous to anyone it might encounter there, and bear bangers pose a fire hazard in dry conditions. Bear bangers are potentially dangerous and can ricochet; they can cause serious injury if improperly used.
Teasdale noted that staff will work with Council’s suggestions for the next draft.
Zoning Amendment Application:
The owner of Lot A, Roll 3016.000 on Olaus Way has applied to reduce the number of units permitted to be built on the property, which is still mostly undeveloped. He points out that the steep terrain makes the currently designated density of 75 units unrealistic and seeks to have the density reduced to 38 units. Council unanimously CARRIED a motion to give Bylaw 2632 for the zoning amendment first and second readings, and scheduled a Public Hearing on the matter for July 17, 2017.
Highlights from Updates & Reports:
Garbage and Bears: Cosbey had done research about the measures taken in other communities to reduce bear problems brought on by garbage, and concluded that there is no easy, inexpensive answer. He reviewed various measures for Council, along with the costs and unintended consequences. Kruysse commented that bears avoid the scent of ammonia.
Street Lights: Council engaged in more discussion of how to respond to community reactions to reducing the number of excessive street lights. Pedestrian safety, Municipal Insurance Association requirements and the wishes of residents will be heavily weighted in final decisions.
Excavation for our SkatePark has begun, and has hit bedrock.
Relocating “V-Formation” — Council approved a motion to authorize City staff to assist RCAC in moving the “V-Formation” sculpture from its current location in the courtyard beside Mountain Nugget to a yet-to-be-decided new location, but they did not approve placing it in Harry LeFevre Square.
Council members reported on their recent meeting attendance and other events, then Moore recessed the meeting to an in camera session pursuant section 90(1)(e) of the Community Charter, to discuss the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements.
And your reporter strolled homeward, reveling in the strong scent of lilacs, apple blossoms and other sweet-smelling blooms.