Permissive Tax Exemptions being reduced; water for farming? Rossland gets a Forest Park; Oregon grape to be sprayed again; and more.
Rossland City Council Meetings, August 13, 2018
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore, and Council members John Greene, Lloyd McLellan, Andy Morel, and Marten Kruysse. Absent: Aaron Cosbey and Andrew Zwicker.
Public Hearing on the OCP amendment and the bylaw to enable the creation of the Rossland Forest Park:
A property owner who lives in Victoria and owns the parcel of land immediately to the east of part of the Forest Park land, seemed concerned that the City’s future plans might adversely affect the speculative value of his lot. He is disturbed by the fact that the park is being left “open-ended” to allow for the addition of further parcels of land. He appeared to want a guarantee that the City-owned Lot 24 adjacent to his land would be dedicated to development rather than park, even though nearby park land would enhance the value of his property, because he was worried about retaining road access to his parcel. There are dedicated road rights-of-way to serve his lot marked on the map, but he didn’t seem reassured by that fact. Moore thanked him and assured him that his input would be taken into consideration.
No one else spoke to the matter, and the Public Hearing adjourned.
Regular Council Meeting:
Public Input Period:
Miche Warwick spoke about water restrictions and how they affect the family farm’s food production capacity. She suggested that they need to be able to access water at different times of day, and some crops need to be watered every day; some delicate salad crops need to be watered for a short time in the middle of the day during hot weather. She spoke about methods used to conserve water, including mulching, building organic matter in soil, capturing water, and growing crops that are less prone to bolting. She pointed out that the City’s restrictions are designed for urban lawns, rather than for food production. Moore asked if she wanted the City to waive the time-of-day restrictions for their use for the remainder of this summer, and then work with them to make water restrictions more suitable for other purposes than lawn maintenance.
Morel clarified that the current restrictions are designed to avoid wasting water through evaporation when sprinkling. Manager of Public Works agreed, and noted that the current restrictions don’t work particularly well with the City’s peak demand periods. He agreed that re-working the rules could be beneficial.
CAO Bryan Teasdale agreed that the restrictions aren’t designed for food production, and thought that a temporary exemption might work.
Morel moved that a temporary be granted for this summer for the commercial farm. Albo asked whether the exemption would apply during other levels of water restriction; Moore suggested that staff be asked to “work out the details.”
The motion for a temporary exemption from the water restrictions, enabling the farm to use water for the same number of hours as other people during the restriction period, but at times of their choosing, CARRIED unanimously.
The property owner from Victoria who had spoken at the Public Hearing asked why the mineral claims all over Rossland have not “been expunged.” Moore explained that it’s beyond the powers of the City to do that, but the City can look into it.
Recommendations from Staff for Decision:
Permissive Tax Exemptions: Council considered the list of properties for a three-year permissive exemption. The exemptions add up to about $50,000. McLellan thinks that some of the exemptions should not be continued; he named the Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store, the Legion, and the Rossland Light Opera as examples. Moore suggested that Council go through the list and discuss each one separately. All applicants except those listed below were approved for the three-year permissive tax exemption.
Health Care Auxiliary: McLellan moved that the City give exemption for 2019, but give them notice that the exemption will not extend into subsequent years. The motion CARRIED.
Rossland Legion (which has paid taxes on the upstairs portion, but has had an exemption for the community-use basement area): Kruysse stated that the Legion is “just a bar” like the Eagles. A motion to continue their partial tax exemption for one more year, with notice that it will end after that, CARRIED, with only Greene opposed.
Golden Bear Child Care: Moore noted that Golden Bear doesn’t give discounts on the basis of need, and queried their $3000 expenditure on advertising; she moved that they get one more year of exemption, with notice that it will end after that. McLellan commented that daycare is becoming “a necessity” and that he’s inclined to think that daycare is one of the core services the City should provide, but the motion CARRIED with Kruysse and McLellan opposed.
McLellan moved that Rossland Light Opera Players get one more year of exemption, plus notice that the exemption will end after that, and noted that they don’t maintain the sidewalk in the winter. Greene said he is aware that paying taxes would be a hardship for RLOP, and commented that they add a lot to the town; but the motion CARRIED with Greene opposed.
Policy Review: Council reviewed and passed motions to re-confirm four policies: The Employee – Step Discipline Program; the Employee Rules and Regulations Policy; the Risk Management Public Works Inspection and Maintenance Schedule; and the Risk Management Inspection of Roadways and Sidewalks Policy. Morel clarified that disciplinary action would result from traffic violations such as texting while driving, running stop signs, etc. McLellan received confirmation that inappropriate use of computers on the job is covered as well.
Development Variance Permit Application: 1668 Second Avenue applied for permission to use concrete lock-blocks to replace a crumbling retaining wall, with the approval of the affected neighbour. A motion to allow the use of the blocks CARRIED unanimously.
Development Permit Application: to build a single-residence home and outbuildings at 3970 Red Mountain Road, with a septic field (if approved.) A motion to approve the application CARRIED unanimously.
OCP Amendment Bylaw # 2661 – Rossland Forest Park: a motion to give the bylaw third reading CARRIED unanimously, as did the motion to adopt it.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2675 – Rossland Forest Park: motion to give the bylaw third reading CARRIED unanimously, as did the motion to adopt it.
Now it’s official: Rossland has a bit of “Forest Park.”
Zoning Amendment bylaw #2676; a motion to give first and second readings to a bylaw changing the zoning of 1633 Second Avenue to enable Short Term Rental of one room, and to schedule a Public Hearing for September 24, 2018, CARRIED unanimously.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2677; a motion to give first and second reading to a bylaw changing the zoning of 1866 Monita Street to enable short-term rental of a small suite, and to schedule a Public Hearing for September 24, 2018, CARRIED unanimously.
City of Rossland Tax Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw #2678: A motion to give the bylaw first, second and third readings CARRIED unanimously.
Staff Reports and Updates:
Task List: There will be a consultation scheduled about Rossland’s LED street lights, possibly in September; watch for an announcement of the date.
Building Permits: Lots of new activity!
Water Consumption Report for July: Rossland used significantly less water in July this year (90,620 cubic meters) than in July of 2017 (111,829 m³).
The Public Works Report detailed work done during July.
Arena Safety Improvements Update: The necessary work and continued testing is being done so that the arena will be ready to open in the fall; Albo noted in his report that there will be budget items for 2019 and 2020 for replacing the chiller and the condenser, as both are past their life expectancy.
West Coast Environmental Law requested a letter of support on climate accountability, seeking to hold fossil fuel corporations accountable for their role in causing climate change and for suppressing information on its causes. Copies of such letters from four other municipalities were provided. As a result of a motion by Council, Rossland will send a letter, explaining the financial impacts on our city of climate change and the measures Rossland has already had to take in response – such as increasing the size of storm drain pipes, to accommodate increased flows from intense rain events, and upgrading our water metering to better manage our limited water supply, and investing in FireSmart clearing of ladder fuel from some surrounding forest areas.
The City of Williams Lake has sent a letter to the Minister of Finance, supporting a resolution by Langley asking that municipalities, school districts and regional districts be exempt from paying the Employee Health Tax. Hamming noted that it’s about $8,000 extra for the City to pay annually. Kruysse characterized it as a regressive tax on having employees, and a motion to send a letter from Rossland as well CARRIED.
Moore enthusiastically noted the free workshop in Castlegar on local government (see separate article).
McLellan reported on the RDKB board meeting on July 26. He had voted against a motion to increase RDKB directors’ stipends to compensate for the fact that one-third of their stipends, which was formerly tax-exempt to allow for necessary expenses, is no longer tax exempt. The motion carried anyway, with only two votes opposed.
Kruysse reported on the Heritage Committee – it’s going to reprint the Rossland Heritage Homes publication; the First History of Rossland will also be available soon. The new Esling Park signs should be installed by Golden City Days. The Columbia Cemetery mapping project seems to be stalled, and the Heritage Commission really wants it to be done. Asked about the Oregon grape problem in the Columbia Cemetery, Albo reported that West Kootenay Pest Control will be dealing with it.
Moore noted that it’s very important to direct people to the RDKB site for updates on the local fire situation. She announced that nomination packages for running for Council are now available. She met with the ED of the Eco-society, who will help the City put its SCEEP into effect. RED and the Josie are applying to CBT re employee transportation and would appreciate a letter of support.
Council recessed to an in camera session, and your reporter strolled home, noting a parade of passing vehicles all coated with a thick layer of brown dirt. “From Shambala,” explained a passer-by. “It’s a real dust bowl!”