Spraying native plants on City property with herbicide; Rossland IS expensive; street light schedule adjustment; arena suggestions
Regular Council Meeting, September 18, 2017
Present: Acting Mayor Lloyd McLellan, and Councillors John Greene, Marten Kruysse, Aaron Cosbey, Andrew Zwicker; Absent: Mayor Kathy Moore, Andy Morel
Public Input Period:
The owner of Seven Summits Coffee, who purchased and has been extensively renovating the former Rotary Health Centre building, spoke about missing the cut-off date for the tax revitalization exemption and asked if the City can allow a late application. He said he will understand if their hands are tied by the requirements in the bylaw, but wanted to check. Chief Administrative Officer Bryan Teasdale explained that the owner must apply by the dates in the bylaw to enable the City to process the request; and they would have to change the bylaw (a time-consuming process) to be able to consider later applications.
Recommendations from Staff:
a. Property Tax Roll Account Reconciliations
A motion to accept the staff recommendations to bring the tax roll up to date CARRIED unanimously.
b. Request from One Tree Adventures to sub-lease the Scout Hall:
Tom Leask of the Rossland Scout troop spoke to explain the purpose of the lease: for One Tree Adventures to use the hall during school hours, when the Scouts aren’t using it, for the 2017 – 2018 school year. The terms of the City’s lease to the Scouts requires the Scouts to obtain the City’s permission before renting or sub-leasing the property. A motion to allow the lease CARRIED.
After the vote, Kruysse raised the issue of whether the sub-lease being made to a for-profit business is legal, given that the City is leasing the property to a not-for-profit group for $1 a year and is not supposed to support for-profit businesses; but he did support giving permission for the lease, which will benefit the not-for-profit Scouts.
c. Streetlight Policy Feedback:
Staff made recommendations to Council for actions that will expedite completion of the street light project, and facilitate decision-making on the various requests from residents about changes to the street lighting. Staff have received a number of requests, some of them conflicting ― some residents want certain lights removed, while others want those same lights to remain in place; staff have explained that they can deal with requests that fall within the policy, but requests that would involve a departure from the policy will come to Council for decision.
Staff explained that they can save the City money by completing Phase Five of the project (at Red Mountain base area) this fall instead of next year as planned; the accelerated timeline is possible because there are no changes in the number or location of street lights, just replacement with LEDs.
A motion to hold a Committee-of-the-whole meeting at 4:00 pm on October 10 to discuss the resolution of requests about street lights CARRIED, as did another motion to approve completing Phase Five of the LED replacement project in 2017.
Kruysse asked whether the lights in pedestrian tunnels will be changed over; Manager of Public Works Darrin Albo said that the pedestrian tunnel lights are now sodium fluoride and they will be replaced with LEDs.
d. Development Variance Permit Application for 2290 Second Avenue.
The owner is requesting a variance to allow the current degree of encroachment on City property to continue for a replacement of the leaky sunroom above the existing garage on the home’s east side. The current sunroom sheds snow onto City property; the new addition replacing it will not. A motion to approve the application CARRIED unanimously.
e. Policy Review: Grant-in-Aid Policy (#03-08)
Cosbey said the City needs to define and clarify what it means to say that organizations can apply for a 3-year rolling agreement, and who is eligible to apply for the 3-year term. It was first requested by Tourism Rossland, which needed the certainty of year-to-year funding for planning purposes. He points out that it makes more sense for some entities to have to apply every year. McLellan pointed out that the policy doesn’t require a 3-year term, but makes it possible for a 3-yer term to be granted if Council approves it.
Teasdale reported that every single applicant went for a three-year term last time around. He agreed that it would be good to clarify to potential applicants that a 3 year term may or may not be granted. He pointed out that the fixed amount from year to year provides certainty for both the City and the applicants.
Motion to confirm the policy CARRIED with Cosbey opposed .
f. Policy Review: Community Event Sign (#01-04)
Cosbey raised the question of why the policy required events to be advertised on Bhubble before it could be featured on the sign, and suggested an amendment to delete that requirement . The amendment CARRIED unanimously, as did the motion to confirm the amended policy.
g. Strategic Plan 2016 – 2018 Annual Review
McLellan said that he thinks Council is loaded with tasks for the last year of its term; Zwicker agreed, and suggested that “a simple review, like we did last year” would be suitable, and a motion to that effect CARRIED.
a. Business Licence Bylaw #2326
A motion to give the bylaw first and second readings CARRIED unanimously. The revised bylaw lowers the cost of business licences in Rossland, and simplifies some of the rest of the bylaw.
b. OCP and Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2634 and #2635
A motion to give first and second reading to bylaws to change the former home of the Seven Summits Centre for Learning from Public Institutional to Multiple Family Residential CARRIED unanimously, as did a motion to schedule a Public Hearing for this matter on October 10.
c. Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw #2636 lists the properties for which revitalization tax exemptions have been approved for five-year terms. A motion to give the bylaw first, second, and third readings CARRIED.
Cosbey proposed a motion to bring the tax revitalization exemption bylaw back to Council for review, to clarify the City’s purposes. Kruysse reminded Council that the revitalization program is, or can be, a tool for encouraging more employment, which would mean not necessarily focusing on one or more particular locations in town. The motion CARRIED unanimously.
Task List: Council reviewed the list, but there were no comments.
Public Works Report: Kruysse asked about the status of the Seniors Hall façade: Teasdale responded that there’s an RFP out now, and that it may be more cost-effective to have the project done in the spring than trying to complete it during the winter.
Water Consumption Report: Water use for August 2017 was higher than it has been for that month for the previous five years. Water has been transferred from Ophir reservoir to Star Gulch, and with cooler weather and some rain in the forecast, the City hopes to avoid going to Stage IV restrictions. Kruysse wondered why water use is so high; Albo attributed it to the hotter, drier summer.
2017 Property Tax Comparison with Other Municipalities: Council considered a comprehensive report by Chief Financial Officer Elma Hamming. Cosbey pointed out that yes, Rossland’s costs are high compared with other municipalities, but that people also have to consider what residents get in return for the taxes, and that Rossland must have a lot to offer because business is doing well and construction is booming. He also pointed out that we must not get complacent about our high taxes “being OK” because we risk becoming a rich person’s playground — driving out employees, ski bums, young families, seniors and so on. Greene commented that he thinks Rossland’s economic demographic has already changed noticeably.
Spokane Street ― LeRoi Avenue Project Report: There were two gas-line breaks during the work. Albo said that one was a problem of wrong mapping, but the other was caused by carelessness on the part of workers.
Greene reported that the Heritage Commission booth at the Fall Fair won first place; and the Oregon grape (a native plant) in the old Cemetery has been sprayed by West Kootenay Noxious Weed Control and may be sprayed again.
Editor’s Note: The spraying of native Oregon grape with herbicide in the City-owned Columbia Cemetery is clearly contrary to City policy and Albo has stated in a telephone conversation that it will not be repeated.
Kruysse was part of the welcome for the Cops for Kids bike tour when it came through Rossland last Sunday. The group stopped at Ferraro’s and received a cheque and some refreshment, and a recipient of their support came to express her gratitude.
Zwicker spoke about attending the EcoSociety conference in Castlegar. He commented that Andrea Reimer, a Vancouver City councillor, was the most interesting speaker. She explained that Vancouver didn’t hold public consultations on setting their environmental targets because “the atmosphere doesn’t care how people feel about it” and the science should determine goals, not public sentiment.
McLellan went to the Legion re-opening after its renovations, and reported on the last RDKB meeting.
The Arena task force is looking for ways to improve arena use, and proposes some changes, including the purchase of a “bumper” to divide the ice into smaller areas for young players. Council members expressed willingness to help, and will seek more information.
The meeting recessed to an in camera session, so your reporter packed up and left the building, just in time to help a brief-case-carrying man in a dark suit and a hurry find his way to the Council chamber, and to make assumptions about his profession (probably a lawyer) and his connection to one of the topics of the in camera session (litigation) and to wonder fruitlessly what it’s about and what the outcome will be for our city.