Water metering debate; more townhouses; more smoking restrictions; some gain short term rental zoning and some will lose it; and more.
Rossland City Council meetings, June 12, 2018
Re: A bylaw to re-zone 2194 Park Street from R-1 Residential to R-1 GS (allowing for short-term rental of a guest suite.)
One resident had written and expressed comfort with the application, as long as the off-street parking would be used, instead of the owner and guests parking on Park Street – as the owner has done in the past during the winter, according to the writer.
Planner Stacey Lighbourne assured Council that the city can check on parking practices and require compliance.
REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Lloyd McLellan, Aaron Cosbey, Andrew Zwicker, John Greene, Marten Kruysse, and Andy Morel.
No one had any issues to bring up in Public Input Period, so Council moved on to the one delegation slated for the evening:
A group of Rossland Summit School Grade 7 students — Cassidy LaFond, Kendra Lightburn, Josie Dunham and Logan Taylor – made a presentation about the David Suzuki Blue Dot Tour municipal toolkit.
The four children explained how they had enquired into the changes humans have made to life on earth, and showed pictures of art work representing those changes. Their teacher, Jess Foster, then showed a David Suzuki Foundation video, showing the adverse health effects of human industrial activity: air pollution, water pollution, loss of habitat for wildlife and flora, soil erosion and degradation, toxins killing pollinators and birds, contributing to human illness . . . the video concluded by arguing that people should have a constitutional right to a healthy environment.
The students declared that they hope to make a difference. For Rossland, they urge eliminating unnecessary plastic bags, straws, and packaging, and asked everyone to do what they can to make a positive difference.
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM STAFF:
1. A new townhouse development on Third: Council unanimously approved a Development Permit application for a 10-unit townhouse development on Third Avenue, between Queen Street and St. Paul Street — immediately behind (on the north side of) Golden City Manor. Conceptual drawings and floor plans are included in the Council package, and Planner Stacey Lightbourne has listed a set of requirements on snow clearing, landscaping, and design.
2. Council was also unanimous in awarding the Recreation Review Public Input Process to MODUS Planning, Design & Engagement Inc. at a cost of $12.936.00. The price is higher than budgeted, and is the highest of the four bids received, but Staff and Council agreed that the “clear understanding of and experience with highly political community planning” shown in the MODUS bid is worth going slightly over-budget.
3. Council unanimously resolved to approve the Municipal Insurance Association of BC Associate Member Program between the City of Rossland and the Rossland Recreation Instructors Group, using language specified, so that recreation program instructors working as contractors will be covered by the insurance without each having to incur separate, personal insurance expense.
4. Water: to keep metering, or try other methods for conservation?
Council discussed at length the issue of Rossland’s faulty water-meter reading system, and whether or not to accept the bid from Corix Water Products Limited Partnership in the amount of $421,701 to complete the City’s 2018 Water Mer MXU Upgrade, and accept a $25,920 annual subscription for ongoing cloud based analytics, monitoring, and customer interface portal, and amend the budget to include that annual expense.
Rossland’s water meters have not been read for the past year – estimates have been used instead – because the meters use an all-too-common bandwidth, and signals were being confused with those from other devices, particularly SmartMeters installed by Fortis. The proposed new signaling mechanism would use different bandwidth.
The City had received four bids, but the two lowest bids would repeat the current faulty technology, and the third proposed a technology that Staff considered to be less suited to Rossland’s topography, leaving the Corix bid as the most promising.
Greene argued that the City could save money by returning to manual readings, and would also employ another person. Moore noted that the new system would provide more information; Morel agreed in principle with Greene, but recognized the value of the additional info; Zwicker was also in agreement with Greene’s concerns, but CAO Bryan Teasdale explained that it’s valuable to have the information at their fingertips.
Cosbey moved, and argued, that the City should dispense with water metering, because our variable block rates according to usage aren’t actually a significant incentive to conserve water. He argued for a flat rate that is high enough to cover the cost of the service, and engage in other forms of water conservation: education, water barrels, water-saving appliances, and so on.
McLellan agreed with much of what Cosbey said, but thought that having water metering makes a big difference for funding applications.
Kruysse felt that, in terms of value for money, an investment in I&I reduction might be more important to the City.
Teasdale commented that water metering is an important part of all Water Smart programs, though there are other components of water conservation too.
Morel asked whether water meters could be read quarterly and still produce adequate info. Manager of Finance Elma Hamming explained that monthly readings enable prompt identification of water leaks or other such problems.
Cosbey commented that “we’d be ahead on water conservation” if we dropped the metering and concentrated on more effective incentives.
Zwicker suggested going with flat rates for a year, then check the output from the treatment plant to see whether there was a change. Hamming argued that without metering, people will have less motivation to fix leaky fixtures, and will become less educated on water conservation. She commented that she has been amazed a “how much water a dripping faucet can burn through.”
The motion to accept the Corix bid FAILED without a single vote in favour.
Cosbey moved that Rossland move to a flat rate for water, to seek advice from staff about the basis for the charge. The motion CARRIED.
Cosbey moved that Rossland revitalize a Water Smart program to educate for water conservation, and the motion CARRIED unanimously.
5. Council unanimously agreed to support applying under the BC Rural Dividend Program (Partnership Application) to assist in completing the City’s proposed mixed-use development of the Midtown Transition Area – commonly referred to as the Emcon Lot.
Smokers (and vapers) take note:
Council gave second and third readings to the City’s “Smoke and Vape Free Outdoor Places” Bylaw # 2645. The draft bylaw was amended to clarity that the additional restrictions applied not only to Columbia Avenue but also to Washington Street.
Just so you know: when (if) adopted, the bylaw will prohibit smoking (which includes all types of smoking and vaping) by anyone, of any age,
· In any park, picnic area or public square;
· At any playground or playing field;
· At any skateboard or bike park;
· At any public tennis court or swimming pool;
· At any community garden;
· On any public sidewalks;
· Any place within the C1 zone of Columbia Avenue and Washington Street (but not including the alleys);
· Inside or within 6 meters of any public building or space in which the City owns an interest;
· Within 6 meters of any building, transit stop or shelter where people wait to board public transit;
· Inside any vehicle or equipment owned, leased or used by the City.
Council gave third reading to, and unanimously adopted, Bylaw # 2667, to re-zone 2194 Park Street and allow for short-term rental of its guest suite.
Civic elections are coming up this fall, so Council adopted Local Government election Procedures Bylaw #2669, 2018, in preparation.
Next up was a motion to give first and second readings to a zoning amendment bylaw for a part of the property at 1810 Planer Crescent, and to schedule a Public Hearing for July 16, 2018. The owner wants to subdivide the property and sell a narrow lot to the west of the home; the new lot would be zoned R1-Infill. The motion CARRIED unanimously.
Council gave first and second readings to a zoning amendment bylaw for 2234 Fifth Avenue to allow short-term rental. A Public Hearing is scheduled for July 16, 2018.
Several properties losing Short-Term Rental zoning:
Council gave first and second readings to a bylaw that will rezone properties currently zoned to permit short-term rental back to their original zoning, because their owners have not obtained business licences as required to maintain short-term rental zoning, in spite of reminder notices. The nine properties listed will revert to R-1, R-1 Infill, or R-1 Rural Residential, depending on their location. A Public Hearing is scheduled for July 16.
Council gave first and second readings to the amended Tax Revitalization Bylaw, which reduces the length of the “tax holiday” from ten years to five years, and specifies the percentage of tax payable in each of the five years.
Kruysse had not been present for the discussion that produced the amendments, and he argued that diminishing the length of the “tax holiday” makes Rossland “uncompetitive.”
McLellan said he likes reducing the length of it from ten years to five.
Discussion continued on whether or not applicants should be required, rather than merely encouraged, to meet a certain number of the City’s objectives, and Cosbey moved that the bylaw be amended to require that the applicant achieve some of the objectives; his motion CARRIED.
Council reviewed Staff Reports – the never-ending Task List, the Water Consumption report, Building Permit report, and Public Works report.
Cosbey asked how we’re doing with knotweed control; Lightbourne outlined the plan.
Huck’en Berries: a motion to provide the assistance requested CARRIED.
Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre Scholarship request – a motion to provide the bursary of $200 CARRIED.
Council agreed to the Seven Summits Centre for Learning request for a letter of support for their rural dividend application.
A motion to give the requested support to the Museum’s Canada Day event CARRIED unanimously, with praise for how the Museum has managed the celebrations.
Greene said the piano in the park is going out tomorrow (Wednesday, June 13).
Cosbey described the RSS BioBlitz, and the Skatepark fundraiser — he reported that they raised enough money to make “substantial progress toward getting it done.” Council members noted that the skatepark is busy all the time.
Moore reported that some grade 6 students had thanked her for supporting the skatepark.
Council recessed to an in camera session to discuss labour relations, and your reporter (suffering hunger pangs) wandered home by way of Ferraro’s, enjoying the fresh fragrance of a spring evening.