Water Metering back on the Agenda; Trash Talk, Speed Limits, a Discontented Resident, and much more!
Report on Rossland City Council Meeting, June 25, 2018 (Updated)
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore and Councillors Martin Kruysse, John Greene, Andy Morel and Andrew Zwicker. Absent: Lloyd McLellan and Aaron Cosbey.
Public Input Period:
Laura Petit spoke to oppose Council’s decision to do away with water metering; she felt it would lead to waste, and she doesn’t want to pay the same as a neighbour who waters a huge yard constantly, or has six kids, or a vacation rental. Moore noted that Council will be looking again at the issue at a meeting on July 4 – “We’re not done with this issue by any means.”
Miche Warwick urged Council to work at keeping our streets safer, and reduce the speed of traffic. Focusing on the number on the signs won’t help, she said, because too many drivers don’t care about exceeding the speed limit.
Elise Paré spoke on the water meter issue, saying she can’t support getting rid of water metering. She believes water meters are a very effective way to reduce water use; she noted that it’s important for leak detection and other useful data.
Jill spearn had sent Council a letter expressing her opinions about a number of issues: she didn’t like the clean-up material being deposited at Moon Gravity Farm, near her residence, citing the noise, dust and unsightliness; she objected to projected tax increases and said she thinks they’re driving people out of town; she objected to the new street lighting in town, and the new road designs; she said the new speed limit of 30 km/h is unreasonable, citing traffic on Washington on a snow day, and says it should be 40. (For detail-oriented readers, Spearn’s letter and Moore’s written response can be read in their entirety by clicking this link.)
In the meeting, Moore responded that the tax increases are necessary because previous councils – many of them – focused on keeping taxes low at the expense of maintaining infrastructure, and now the work has to be done. She said that people who want to drive faster should not drive up Washington Street to get to the ski hill, because they can go around on the highway and get there at least as quickly while driving faster. She pointed out that some of the work being done that Spearn objected to in her letter, such as the move to LED street lighting and using Moon Gravity Farm to receive spring clean-up materials to build a hugelkultur base for growing trees and shrubs and to sequester their carbon, are intended to save money.
Spearn responded that if she could see the benefit of those things in her tax bill, she’d be happier about them; Moore explained that they have kept property taxes from being even higher. Spearn said she understood, but added, “you know what I’d do? I’d start with a zero-based budget, and I would say, these are all the things we need, basic, you know, municipal economy.”
Moore suggested that if Spearn wanted to run for Council again, she should “go for it.” Spearn declared that she wasn’t being critical, just “giving public input, and if you’re seeing it as criticism, then you’re not reading it right.” Moore said she wasn’t seeing it as criticism but thought Spearn was not “dealing with the reality that we’re dealing with.”
Kruysse wondered what information Spearn was using to conclude that people were leaving Rossland because of high taxes.
Moore moved three items up on the agenda: the Blue Dot decision, the speed limit policy, and the Library project contract.
Revisiting the water metering issue:
Moore announced that she was using her mayoral power to have Council reconsider a decision it has made in the past 30 days, that being the decision to discontinue water metering; she felt that “we made a decision without having all the information,” and there will be a meeting on July 4, 2018, to discuss the issue. The location of the meeting will be announced when Council has found one – the Miners’ Hall will be in use by the Gold Fever Follies on July 4.
Our planet, the Blue Dot:
In response to a delegation at the June 12 meeting, Council unanimously CARRIED a motion to support the Blue Dot movement, by adopting a declaration drafted by staff. The statement can be found starting at Page 189 of the Council package for this meeting.
Trash talk: plastic bags
Moore noted that Victoria won its court case on plastic bags, and cited a long list of cities and countries that have restricted the use of plastic check-out bags. Morel wanted to restrict other single-use disposables such as straws, disposable coffee cups, plastic cutlery and so on, besides bags. Moore noted that there is no model for those items at this time; she pointed out that there is plenty of time yet for discussion with retailers. A motion to direct staff to draw up a draft bylaw restricting check-out bags for further discussion CARRIED unanimously.
Morel moved to ask staff to draw up a bylaw restricting other single-use plastic disposables such as straws. Kruysse noted that without a list of specific items it can become a management challenge. The motion CARRIED with three in favour, and Greene and Kruysse opposed.
Those contentious speed limits:
Moore introduced the review of the speed limit policy. Morel spoke in favour of reconfirming it, and also spoke in favour of reporting speeders and their car descriptions and licence numbers, to the RCMP. Kruysse spoke in favour of traffic calming road design to slow traffic, as more effective than speed limit signs; he also thinks 40 km/h is a “perfectly safe speed in most of the community.”
Resident Bob Reardon spoke from the gallery, saying he has access to figures that he can send to Council, which show that 30 km/h is significantly safer than even 40 km/h. Zwicker said he favours 30 km/h; Moore also spoke in favour of a 30 km/h speed limit – “We’re a small town. How much of a hurry do people have to be in, on our steep, narrow streets?” Morel would like to see more and better signage to let people know that we’re a lower-speed-limit community. Manager of Public Works Darrin Albo disagreed, saying he thinks there are numerous speed limit signs already, and that what we need is more enforcement. Moore noted that traffic calming could be addressed over time for the speeding hotspots.
Council reconfirmed the speed limits policy.
Readers rejoice: the Rossland Public Library renewal Project, Phase II, is moving forward. A motion to award the contract to Hill‐Tech Contracting Ltd. in the amount of $230,525 plus applicable taxes CARRIED unanimously.
Recommendations from Staff for Council Decision:
a) Development Permit Application for the former Block Motel property: after brief discussion, a motion to issue a development permit, subject to various conditions, CARRIED unanimously.
b) Development Variance Permit Application for 912 Blackbear Drive, to reduce the front setback from 5 metres to 1.3 metres: a motion to allow the variance CARRIED unanimously.
c) Rossland Eagles Liquor Licence Application to extend operating hours to 3:00 am, instead of the current closing time of 1:00 am: based on letters from nearby residents, staff have recommended that this application not be approved. Morel stated that 1:00 am is “plenty late enough.” Zwicker agreed, and Kruysse also supported that. Moore quoted a county & western song line that goes “Nothin’ good ever happens after one a.m.” Council voted unanimously to deny the application.
d) 2017 Annual Report: A motion to approve the report CARRIED unanimously. Greene commented on how beautiful the photos illustrating it are.
e) Policy Review: Council unanimously re-confirmed two more policies: Freedom of the City, and Half-Masting of the Canadian Flag.
f) Rossland Mountain Market Queen Street Closure Agreement: a motion to approve the three-year agreement CARRIED unanimously.
g) Rossland Museum Community Cultural Forum Support Request: Staff sought direction from Council; the Museum is seeking waiver of fees for using the Miners Hall but would still have to pay the damage deposit, and the fee to RCAC for chairs. Zwicker thought Council had decided to waive fees only for first-time initiatives, and thought this proposal would be eligible. CAO Bryan Teasdale pointed out that waiving fees becomes a “burden on taxpayers.” Hamming pointed out that ideally there would no fees waived, so that the City can track what it’s contributing – how much revenue it’s forfeiting. A motion to waive the fees for using the Miners Hall for the event CARRIED with no one opposed.
h) Reappointment of officers for 2018 General Elections: A motion to rescind the original appointment of Shirley Rhodes as Chief Election Officer, and Alison Worsfold as the Deputy Chief election Officer, CARRIED unanimously; Shirley Rhodes has resigned from her position as Deputy Corporate Officer effective June 28, 2018. A further motion appointing Alison Worsfold and the Chief Election Officer, and Kristi Caldwell as the Deputy Chief election Officer also CARRIED unanimously.
A motion to adopt the Smoke and Vape Free Outdoor Places Bylaw CARRIED unanimously.
A motion to give first, second and third readings to a revised Animal Control bylaw CARRIED. The revision will permit dog owners to have three dogs on a property rather than the current limit of two, without having kennel zoning, as long as the owners comply with regulations about keeping the dogs on their property or on leash, and have an enclosure for the dogs on their property.
A motion to give first and second reading to the Zoning Amendment Bylaw for Cannabis Regulation, and to set a Public Hearing for July 16, 2018, CARRIED unanimously. The bylaw will define retail outlets for recreational cannabis products as distinct businesses, and require them to be at least 150 metres from the property line of any school or youth centre, and to have an air filtration system to prevent their distinctive odour from escaping their premises to scent the entire area.
A motion to give third reading to the revised Tax Revitalization Bylaw CARRIED, after a discussion of the technologies and objectives that applicants must include.
Requests from Correspondence:
a) Is a mural a “billboard”? Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre requested a Letter of Support for a Public Arts Grant to finance the creation of a large mural by local artists on the side of the Museum building. Morel stated that if the City is allowing “one of its buildings to be made into a billboard,” it should have some say over how it looks. He pointed out that it’s going to be a permanent installation, and highly visible. Moore suggested the City could reserve final approval of the design. Kruysse had concerns also and suggested that RCAC should be involved and that Rossland Council for Arts and Culture (RCAC) and City Council have final approval of the design for the City-owned building.
The motion to provide a letter of support CARRIED unanimously; then Kruysse moved that if the project receives approval, the design will be approved by the City and RCAC. Kruysse noted that heritage is also an element, and suggested that the City should consult with the Heritage Commission; his motion CARRIED.
b) Rossland Council for Arts and Culture Request for Letter of Support for Sculpture Week, to install sculptures along Centennial Trail. Morel wanted to know whether the requests are even feasible for City staff. Albo responded that the work could be time-consuming, and may take a lower priority than other work. A motion to provide support CARRIED, but as Moore noted, the support may be limited by City prioirities.
c) Rossland Council for Arts and Culture Request for Approval for Random Acts of Culture: RainWorks Temporary Public Art Project CARRIED unanimously.
Moore had drafted a response to the letter from resident Jill Spearn, as noted above.
Council members reported briefly on their recent meetings, and Council recessed to an in camera session. Your reporter strolled home, grateful for the new sidewalk, grateful that the earlier thunder and pouring rain had vanished, and thinking about differences in personal tastes in art – including murals. Should a mural for Rossland’s Museum be muted and earth-toned, or should it be bold, colourful and possibly challenging? Should it be utterly representational? Should it attract attention and perhaps fire controversy, or just do its best not to be noticed, and elicit nods and yawns? We could go on . . .