Public Hearing at the Miners Hall draws a crowd
Zoning amendment for cabins near Paradise Lodge attracts a crowd
Rossland City Council’s Public Hearing, held at the Miners Union Hall, attracted quite a crowd on Monday, March 12, 2018. Many chairs had been set out for the public gallery, but as people kept coming in, they got more chairs for themselves from the stacks along the walls.
There were three applications for zoning amendments up for discussion at the Public Hearing. The first, to permit short-term rental space at a residence on Victoria Avenue, drew no discussion at all.
The Red Mountain Resort (RMR) application for zoning to permit a hostel at the base area drew questions about set-backs and parking, fears about noise and booze and drugs, and suggestions that the hostel should be built on the other (east) side of the highway to leave more room for parking on the west side.
RMR’s President and General Manager, Don Thompson, fielded questions. He explained that RMR owns the land being re-zoned to allow a hostel, and it’s serviced; that there will be a caretaker; that RMR has been in discussions with Hostelling International and will uphold HI hosteling standards ; and that RMR will build more parking this year – the 150 spaces that were planned for last year but not completed, plus 150 more spaces. He promised that there would be a ten-metre set-back for parking area and snow storage, and that a row of trees shielding an adjacent property on Telemark Road will remain.
Asked about the height of the proposed hostel, Thompson responded that it will be a two-story building, and will accommodate 88 “pillows.” The current zoning would allow a Multiple Family Dwelling unit up to 13 metres high.
Most of the crowd was there to question the need for overnight-stay cabins near Paradise Lodge, and their effects on other skiers, wildlife and wildfire hazard.
Thompson indicated that RMR would be able to build up to ten cabins, plus caretaker accommodation / clubhouse, but would begin with six cabins; each cabin would sleep up to six people, and would have a small two-piece bathroom (no showers) plus a coffee-maker, microwave oven and small fridge. They will be low-water-use and low-power-use. There will be trails connecting the group of cabins to the Seven Summits trail and other routes.
The original application promised that RMR will apply FireSmart and Bear Aware guidelines and install a large holding tank and pump, to reduce fire risk. Thompson also stated that the exterior of the cabins will be non-combustible materials, and that the cabins will be clustered together rather than sprawled out.
A resident commented, “I think it’s a terrible idea!” and went on to explain that bear expert Wayne McCrory had said that if there are grizzlies in the area, the cabin development should not go ahead. “And we know there are grizzlies in the area!” she exclaimed. Other residents wanted to know whether dogs would be permitted to accompany cabin occupants, and strongly suggested that they should not be allowed, “because they’ll be off-leash and harassing wildlife.” Some noted that this already happens, both around town and from all the trails in the area.
Skiers were concerned that cabin occupants would be able to ski up too much fresh powder before the lifts began and other skiers could access the heights. Cabin occupants (up to 36 of them from six cabins, or up to 60 from 10 cabins) could ski down the mountain and then be first in line for the lifts.
Others commented on fire risk during the summer season, and wanted smoking prohibited at or near the cabins.
One resident wondered what would happen if someone had a heart attack or other medical emergency at the cabins. Thompson said the caretaker will be qualified in First Aid, and will be able to call in a helicopter in an emergency.
Another resident asked how Council could justify allowing the cabins, given some of the provisions of the OCP, but Moore responded that she thinks, on the whole, the OCP supports the cabin project.
At the end of the Public Hearing, most residents left the hall. Council voted on the proposal during its regular meeting, which followed immediately after the Public Hearing; please see separate coverage under “Council Matters”.
Editor’s Note: after the meeting, the resident who had raised the issue explained which specific sections of the OCP he thinks should prevent development such as the overnight cabins on Granite; here they are, as he presented them, for readers to contemplate.
Rossland Official Community Plan
11. Land Use Designations
Resort recreation: Resort Recreation lands are intended to provide areas to support resort recreational activities such as golfing or skiing. Development should be limited to facilities required for use and maintenance of recreation areas.
12. Growth Management
1. To ensure the built environment is designed to make efficient use of land resources and limit sprawling development
4. To encourage integration of resort areas with the traditional townsite
13. Consider defining medium and long-term growth boundaries that concentrate growth in clearly defined areas that include the traditional town of Rossland, Red Mountain Resort and Redstone Golf Resort.
14. Establish a sustainability checklist including a high level screening test and incorporate it into all development applications.
14. Natural Environment
14.2 General Policies
2. Focus development in areas where it will pose the least interference with the natural environment.
6. Preserve, wherever possible, all forest stands age class 7 or older, while continuing to review the sue of these lands in the broader context of community land use requirements.
16. Identify environmentally sensitive areas. Such a study would likely focus on the alpine, sub-alpine, riparian zones and wetlands, steep slopes and any areas of special value to wildlife habitat or movement.
14.6 Bear Management Policies
2. Bear habitat mapping and travel corridor data will be considered as part of the environmentally sensitive areas mapping.
20. Commercial Lands
2. to ensure that commercial developments, including resort-related enterprises and new industry, are located and operated in ways that are compatible with the community’s social fabric, high quality of life and environment.
7. Commercial development shall be encouraged to locate in nodes that promote pedestrian/cycling accessibility. Those land designated as Downtown Core, Mixed Use, Gateway Commercial and Resort Commercial are areas where commercial development is appropriate with the Downtown as the primary commercial, cultural and social node of the community.
26. Resource Management
1. To ensure the existing natural areas that make up a large portion of the municipality are protected and enhanced to encourage and maintain stewardship of the lands.
4. To limit expansion of the relatively compact settlement footprint, avoiding satellite developments, in order to preserve the peripheral greenbelt Rossland now enjoys.
26.3 Resort Recreation
3. Protect backcountry areas from overuse and degradation.
4. Design and manage development to protect as much of the natural environment as possible.
It’s good for us all to review the Official Community Plan periodically anyway; these provisions, pointed out by one resident, are only a sampling of what it contains. Interested readers can find the OCP document at: