Dog problems, a new way to reduce wildfire risk, more short-term rentals and less public smoking; a hostel at Red, and what to do about fireworks? And more!
Rossland City Council Meeting, Tuesday, February 13, 2018
The evening began with a Public Hearing, to accept public input on three Zoning Amendment Bylaws to allow short-term rentals (Guest Suites), and on the West Kootenay Inter-Community Business Licence Bylaw # 2648. The public gallery was packed and overflowing into the hallway, but no one wanted to speak on the issues of the Public Hearing, so Mayor Moore adjourned it and opened the regular Council meeting.
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore and all Councillors: Lloyd McLellan, Marten Kruysse, Andy Morel, John Greene, Andrew Zwicker and Aaron Cosbey.
Public Input Period:
Too many dogs!
A resident objected to a provision of Rossland’s Animal Control Bylaw #2548. Section 5 prohibits keeping more than two dogs per household unless the property is zoned to permit a kennel; a bylaw officer had visited her house and told her she had to get rid of one of her dogs, which she finds impossible. She would like the bylaw amended to allow three dogs per household. Moore explained that Council would discuss her request. See discussion under Member Reports, near the bottom.
Jamie Santano spoke about the recreation policy, asking that her daughter be supported to practice at the Trail Aquatic Centre so that she can take part in the Special Olympics. The change in policy has excluded her daughter from having her fees paid by the City; she is asking for a variation to the policy. Cosbey asked questions to clarify the amount of the subsidy being sought.
Terry Miller addressed Council about a proposal, covered in a letter to Council, about a different approach to reducing fire risk. The proposal involves a new FireSmart approach: composting the forest debris instead of burning it. The advantages include conservation of moisture in the forest floor, as well as enriching the soil in the longer term. It is estimated that the cost would be no higher than for the burning process; they want to make Rossland a pilot project for this new fire prevention treatment. See discussion under Correspondence, below.
Cosbey asked if the debris would be chipped; Miller explained that chipping is not recommended, for a variety of reasons, but the proposal involves carefully arranging the material and “sealing” it with a layer of mulch to encourage moisture retention and rotting. McLellan asked about the cost; Miller said that the cost to the City should not be more than in previous years.
Janice Nightingale spoke about the Smokettes letter, about their annual fundraising tournament. They’re asking for a small donation to support their concession tickets that are given to some players in hopes of driving more business to the concession.
(Council moved some agenda items up, including the Smokettes’ request, but they are covered here in their original order on the agenda.)
Libby Martin and Courtney Jewitt of the Rossland Museum Association presented on the Museum’s Strategic Plan and 2017 Annual Report. A major accomplishment was completion of Phase I of the Renewal Project and its “wow!” factor. Visitor numbers are beginning to return to mine-tour levels. The Museum employed seven summer students in 2017, who worked in “construction zone” conditions. Martin praised the Museum’s Executive Director, Joelle Hodgins, and points out that she sits on the BC Museum Association Council. Fundraising is progressing toward the next phase, which will include the replacement mine tour.
Recommendations from Staff for Decision by Council:
1. A bylaw to regulate fireworks within Rossland: Staff discovered a long-forgotten bylaw from October, 1962, and suggest rescinding it; they seek further direction from Council on a bylaw governing the use and sale of fireworks in Rossland. Discussion: Zwicker suggested banning all fireworks between June 15 and September 15, and to make displays subject to a permit. Kruysse suggested requiring permits for display and special effects fireworks. Cosby suggested talking to the Regional District about regional regulation. Zwicker asked to include a time limit, ie, not after 10:00 pm. A motion incorporating all of these ideas and also referencing the provincial ban on fireworks when Category 2 fires are prohibited CARRIED, with only McLellan opposed.
2. Development Variance Permit Application: 2240 Elmore Avenue. The owner wishes to build a new garage in place of the old one, and applies for reduced front and interior side setbacks. A motion to approve the application CARRIED unanimously.
3. FireSmart 2018: A motion that the City endorses the 2018 FireSmart Planning and Activities Grant Program Application and will provide grant management for the program (which will support residents undertaking FireSmart activities on private land) CARRIED unanimously.
4. Request from Museum to waive Fortis and utility fees, and also the Building Permit costs and Risk Insurance fees for the 2017 construction: a lengthy and occasionally confusing discussion ensued.
According to the City’s agreement with the Museum Association, “The City shall be responsible for 50% of the cost of providing electrical service to and heating of, the Museum buildings, when the Association is in a deficit position.” The Museum has not been paying that share of the costs, and seeks to have them waived. Cosbey stated that he is not in favour of trying to collect retroactive fees, but thinks the Museum should pay its full utilities and power costs in the next contract; if the City supports the Museum, that support should be included in its grant to the Museum; the bookkeeping would be cleaner. McLellan thinks the Museum should pay the full amount when they aren’t in a deficit position, and noted that funds being accumulated for capital projects should not be included in the Operations and Maintenance budget, but also that “O&M, that’s your first obligation.”
Cosbey moved that the City waive the building permit fees, but not the insurance fees; that motion FAILED unanimously. Morel commented that the RCAC pay both insurance and building permit fees; so does YAN, and so does the Library. Zwicker moved that the City split the costs of the insurance 50-50; the motion FAILED. Joelle Hodgins stated that Public Works Manager Darrin Albo had promised that the City would not have to pay the building permit fees, and then the Museum received a bill for the permit fees. Greene moved that the Museum pay both the insurance and the building permit fees. Cosbey explained that it seems unfair to him under the circumstances; the motion FAILED. Kruysse asked if it would be reasonable to charge the costs to the Museum, then give them a grant to cover the expense. Chief Administrative Officer Bryan Teasdale pointed out that the Museum has less capacity to pay at this point; Zwicker moved that the City cover both the insurance and building permit fees, and the motion CARRIED unanimously. Moore noted that in future, the City must ensure that communications are clear and well-understood. “Oh, that was painful, but we did it!” she exclaimed.
Bylaws: More Short-term rentals on the way (again), and less outdoor smoking.
1. A motion to give third reading to Bylaw #2642, to rezone 2670 Columbia Avenue to R1-Guest Suite (R1-GS), CARRIED; a further motion to adopt the bylaw CARRIED.
2. A motion to give third reading to Bylaw #2643, to rezone 1760 Second Avenue to R1-GS CARRIED ; a further motion to adopt the bylaw CARRIED.
3. A motion to give third reading to Bylaw #2547, to rezone 1983 Kirkup Avenue to R1-GS CARRIED; a further motion to adopt the bylaw CARRIED
4. A motion to adopt the West Kootenay Inter‐Community Business Licence Bylaw No. 2648 CARRIED.
5. A motion was proposed that the City of Rossland Smoke and Vape Free Outdoor Places Bylaw #2649 be read a first, second and third time; Morel proposed an amendment to make the outdoor spaces on sidewalks in the downtown core (Columbia Avenue and Washington Street to First Avenue) be included in the restricted areas; the amendment FAILED. McLellan proposed amending the motion by removing “campground” — the amendment CARRIED. Cosbey asked what opportunity there will be for public input; Teasdale said that to change it to giving only first and second readings, the original motion must be defeated, so Council voted unanimously to defeat it. Cosbey moved that the bylaw be read for the first time; the motion CARRIED unanimously.
6. A motion to give first and second readings to Bylaw #2652, to rezone 1615 Victoria Avenue to R1-GS, to allow use of the secondary suite in the home for short-term rental, and to set a Public Hearing for March 12, 2018 CARRIED unanimously.
7. A motion to give first and second readings to Bylaw #2653, to allow a hostel as a permitted use in the Lower Alpine village Core (AVC 2), and to set a Public Hearing for March 12, 2018, CARRIED unanimously after discussion: Morel raised the issue of parking, which is a concern; he wants to make sure that parking will be adequate – cited occasions this winter when parking has not been adequate, and cars have been parked along the back road nearly to the highway. Zwicker asked for clarification about the parking requirements, and Lightbourne explained that the zoning requires one space per four units of “comfortable carrying capacity” and that more parking spots are slated to be made, and referred to the future parking area across the highway. McLellan wants to make this development contingent upon the creation of more parking. Cosbey agreed that parking is a priority, but not necessarily for this development; and asked if we have some guarantee that Red will come up to the 1200 parking spots. McLellan said he thinks the City needs to ensure enough parking because if there is an incident on the back road because of inadequate parking it could be “on the City,” because it’s the City’s road. At Moore’s invitation, Red’s General Manager Don Thompson spoke to the difficulties involved in managing the parking, and indicated willingness to go ahead with building more parking, but also suggested that more incentives to use public transit would be useful instead of having to park a vehicle for nearly every skier.
8. A motion to give first and second readings to Bylaw #2654, to allow for construction of 11 small sleeping cabins near Paradise Lodge on Granite Mountain, one of which would be for a staff caretaker while the others would sleep 6 people each, and to set a Public Hearing for March 12, 2018, CARRIED unanimously after discussion: Zwicker asked about access in the summer; Thompson said that there would be no public motorized access, only vehicles operated by Red staff. Cosbey and McLellan asked about the assessment and capacity of the septic system being proposed. Morel asked about impact on wildlife, and whether adding overnight human presence higher on the mountain would encroach further on grizzly habitat.
Council reviewed Staff Updates and Reports:
· Task List: Lightbourne will bring a report on the Heritage Management grant at the next meeting.
· Water Consumption Report: increased water consumption could be from more visitors in town, more water connections, and/or a significant leak or leaks. Elma Hamming noted that the information provided is not from water meter reports, which are off-line for now; it’s just the amount of water flowing out of the treatment plant.
· Public Works Report: Snow removal work has required twice as much time and fuel as it did during the same period last winter.
· Building Permit Report
· Budget Update (for Q4 2017)
· 55+ games: Council did not support a request for funding.
· Letter from resident seeking a handicapped spot in front of the Legion: Council discussed the spot in front of Better Life Fitness, which lacks an access ramp. Cosbey noted that he wouldn’t support a handicapped spot for the Legion without better cause. A motion asking staff to investigate the potential need for a handicapped parking spot CARRIED.
· Letter from Terry Miller on behalf of an ad hoc “action committee” including Don Mortimer, wildfire suppression specialist, Andrew Bennet, BSC, and Bill Chapman, PhD, soil scientist. The group is seeking support for an innovative ecoforestry approach to interface wildfire risk reduction, utilizing woody debris to retain moisture in the soil and to enrich the soil as it decomposes. A motion to support the project in principle, with amount of contribution by the City to be determined later depending on available resources, CARRIED unanimously. Cosbey clarified that there will be only one project this year, not two concurrent projects. Kruysse asked if there was some guarantee that this method will offer greater safety from wildfires; Miller declined to offer guarantees, but suggested that the group expects longer-term benefits for the forest to be very worthwhile.
· Request from Smokettes 2018 fundraising tournament; a motion to contribute funds CARRIED; Cosbey moved to contribute $117. McLellan suggested that when a group holds a special event in a City facility, the City should share in the proceeds, say 15% or 20%. Cosbey said he would support McLellan’s idea IF the group’s charitable contributions are considered costs, and “proceeds” are considered to be after-costs proceeds. Zwicker pointed out that the City benefits from the tournament, and Moore agreed, but was leery of setting a precedent.
· RCAC 2018 Public Sculpture Program: A motion to approve installation of the “Turtle and Salmon” sculpture by David Sidley at the Skatepark, in memory of his son, River Sidley, CARRIED. A further motion to support commissioning of a sculpture of a “cancan girl on a bike” for the Miners Hall CARRIED, and a motion to remove the “Girls can do Anything” sculpture and replace it with “Practice First” sculpture CARRIED.
McLellan reported on Regional District issues.
Cosbey said that the sessions at Ferraro’s on the Budget Tool were excellent, demonstrating that you have to reach out to people in person.
Zwicker reported that SC meetings will be held quarterly instead of monthly, as “most of the excitement happens in the Task forces.”
Greene confirmed that he is working on a business directory for Rossland.
Morel: good news from Brenda Hooper about the St. Andrews United Church building; they are applying to CBT for a grant for construction/renovation to maintain the integrity of the building, but they may need some assurance from the City about the retaining wall.
Moore asked if Council should discuss Jamie Santano’s request; both Moore and Santano had been surprised that the new policy excludes disabled people from special consideration. Council referred the questions of definition to staff to consider, and to bring back to Council.
The hospice swim-a-thon, to raise money for hospice, is on March 15. Moore and Kruysse volunteered to take part.
How many dogs are too many?
Moore noted the questions raised by the resident during Public Input about dogs. Teasdale explained that there had been complaints of the dog(s) in question running at large, chasing other animals and barking. City staff investigated the complaints and noted that none of the dogs were licenced, and the City’s Animal Control Bylaw allows only two dogs per household – aside from the issue of the dogs running at large, chasing others, and being noisy, all of which are contrary to the bylaw. Kruysse commented that perhaps the City should impose a requirement for a training program for dog owners. Staff noted the comments made by Council members.
Moore noted that the outcome of the plastic bag manufactureres’ legal challenge to Victoria’s plastic bag ban will determine how Rossland proceeds on that issue.
Council’s bobsled finished last in the Sonny Samuelson Bobsled Race at Winter Carnival. They were given the “Most Honest” award, for coming in in 31st place out of 31 sleds that finished the race. Heard on the course by Greene: “Here comes the Mayor and Council, doing an inspection of the Spokane Street Infrastructure Project.”
Council recessed to an in camera session, to discuss issues of litigation or potential litigation affecting the City, and your reporter emerged into a wonderful snow flurry and a few inches of fresh fluff, and put on her urban crampons to navigate the treachery of glare-ice-under-fresh-snow down the Leroi hill sidewalk – hoping not to step in any of the newly-concealed dog poop decorating the walkway. And thinking about bobsled designs.