Report on the high and rising cost of fire services; scrap or keep the covered stair at Spokane Street? And, NO BURNING allowed now. None.

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
August 1st, 2017

Rossland City Council held a special meeting on Monday, July 31, at 9:00 a.m.  They just had quorum, with Mayor Kathy Moore and Councillors Lloyd McLellan, John Greene, and Andy Morel attending.  The agenda dealt with only four items of business:

1.   Declassification of the Fire and Emergency Services Review Task Force Final

Report;  the motion to declassify CARRIED unanimously with no discussion.  The report had already been shared with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, and has  been released to the public.  The full report can be found on the City's website, at this link.  

The report considers increasing costs overall and the drivers of those increases, the number of incidents related to fire suppression and "first responder" calls for non-emergency medical calls, the areas served and the different cost per dwelling in different parts of the region, and much more.  It lists options to consider going forward, without making any firm recommendations.

2.   Official Community Plan Amendment:  Bylaw 2644:  A motion to give the bylaw first and second readings, and to set a Public Hearing for the amendment for August 14, 2017, CARRIED unanimously with no discussion.

The effects of the bylaw are:

a)      to allow Council greater flexibility in responding to rezoning applications for short-term rentals, and sets out five criteria to be considered;

b)      to set out four criteria for granting Temporary Use Permits, which are valid for up to three years;

c)      to allow development variance permits such as Red Mountain's application for permission to install a septic system for Paradise Lodge (the next item discussed) to be considered on a case by case basis.  The septic system application would have been barred by the OCP otherwise.

3.  Development  Variance Permit Application re Paradise Lodge Septic System

 A motion to allow the application CARRIED, but only after vigorous discussion about the amount of monitoring to be carried out for the new system and for how long, and whether it could be overwhelmed by flows from rainstorms or peak usage.  Red Mountain's Don Thompson answered questions, explained that the system is designed for peak flows during the winter months, the topography will keep storm-water from inundating the septic field,  and the system will be  intensively monitored during its first season.  Thompson pointed out that it is in Red's best interests to ensure effective water conservation measures.  The system is  not within Rossland's community watershed, but would drain toward Little Sheep Creek.

4.  Update on Spokane Street ― LeRoi Avenue Project:  Scrap the covered stairway?

Project manager Darrin Albo discussed with Council the question of whether the covered stairway from Spokane and LeRoi down to Kootenay A should be removed, as a staff recommendation suggests.  He stated that replacing it at an approximate cost of $100,000 is in the City's Five-Year Plan, and that if the City could instead just improve and widen the current informal path that winds up through the woods and comes out just behind the Prestige, it would save the replacement cost of the covered stair. 

Discussion was vigorous.  Morel pointed out that Rossland's SSP calls for the City to become more pedestrian-friendly, not less; that removing the covered stairway would make pedestrian access to the downtown area more difficult, especially in winter months, for many people, and might encourage driving instead of walking, and he didn't want to see that.  McLellan thought it would involve only "another 400 feet" of walking along Kootenay A to the new sidewalk that will be installed along LeRoi, but others argued that the increased distance is more like two city blocks.  When asked about the effects of snow-clearing operations on the access to footpaths such as the one that emerges behind the Prestige, and the one that comes up behind Ferraro's, Albo acknowledged that plowed or blown snow often does form a barrier to using such pathways. 

A motion to eliminate the covered stairway immediately FAILED.

A motion to delay the decision on whether or not to retain the stairway, and to consult the community CARRIED.  Albo explained that the decision needs to be made by September 1.  Greene asked that the topic be included on the August 14 Council agenda.

Greene clarified that there is NO BURNING ALLOWED at this time, even within City limits.  CAO Bryan Teasdale pointed out that there is a Provincial directive prohibiting burning.  Some citizens in other communities have already been fined $1,150 for having fires during the ban. Other offenses also incur fines:  more than one motorist has now been fined $575 for flicking a burning cigarette butt from a car.

For readers who want to know exactly what is covered by the ban, Global News published the information that all of the following are prohibited throughout the province and subject to fines:

  • Campfires
  • Category 2 open fires
  • Category 3 open fires
  • The burning of any waste, slash or other materials
  • Stubble or grass fires of any size over any area
  • The use of stoves and other portable campfire apparatuses that are not CSA-approved or ULC-approved
  • Fires burning woody debris in outdoor stoves
  • The use of tiki torches, fireworks, firecrackers, sky lanterns, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description
  • The use of binary exploding targets (e.g. for rifle target practice)

After absorbing that information, your reporter strolled over to the Senior's Hall on First Avenue to view its newly-exposed original old brick façade, so much more attractive than what had been used to cover up the crumbling brickwork. Historically accurate replacement is in the works, funded by a grant.  

The newly-exposed, old face of the Seniors' Hall, on July 31, 2017.  Photo by Sara Golling

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