Council Matters: Getting down to business
Rossland City Council Meeting, January 7, 2019
Council members present: Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Scott Forsythe, Janice Nightingale, Stewart Spooner, Chris Bowman, Andy Morel, and Dirk Lewis.
Staff members present: Chief Administrative Officer Bryan Teasdale, Chief Financial Officer Elma Hamming, Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Añonuevo, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne, Manager of Public works Darrin Albo and Recreation Manager Kristi Calder.
Public Input Period: none of the few gallery members spoke up.
Board President Libby Martin and Museum Director Joelle Hodgins of the Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre presented a comprehensive and impressive 21-page report on the Museum’s past year, and an update on Phase II of the Renewal Project. Highlights included improvements to date of the Museum and its facilities, the dramatic increase in attendance, especially attendance by locals, and the work progressing toward the replacement “mine experience” feature.
Martin requested a letter of support from the City for a grant application to the BC Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, applying for $500,000 toward both the planning and the capital costs of Phase II of the Renewal Project. A motion to provide the letter of support CARRIED unanimously.
Staff introduced a draft policy for paying recreation instructors fairly based on qualifications and experience, which will relieve financial pressures on the City’s recreation budget. A motion to approve the draft policy CARRIED unanimously.
Staff also introduced a draft policy for a revised Recreation Bursary Allocation Policy, based on the “Market Basket Measure” to determine income status and the need for assistance. (The fund from which recreation bursaries are granted is not paid for by taxpayers, but by doors.) The “Market Basket Measure” currently allows assistance for individuals with annual income of $18,794 or less; for members of a two-person family with a family income of $26,579 or less; and so on. Bursaries are limited to $100 per applicant. Interested readers can direct inquiries to email@example.com
Lewis asked if there is a plan to publicize the need for donations to build the bursary fund; Calder explained some of the options currently available. Moore wondered whether it is premature to expand the program to other age groups until more funding is obtained, and whether the means testing is adequate. Calder explained that the means testing will soon be done by Jan Morton’s organization (the Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society). Forsythe suggested amending the motion to remove the added demographic until the fund reaches $1000.
A motion to approve the amended draft recreation bursary allocation policy CARRIED with Spooner opposed because he supported the original staff recommendation.
Motions to adopt the following three bylaws, which had already been discussed at first, second and third readings, each CARRIED unanimously: Water Rate Bylaw #2685; Sewer Rate Bylaw #2686; and Business Licence Amendment Bylaw #2688.
Development Permit / Variance Applications:
1. Lot 9, Esling Drive (between Cooke Avenue and Thompson Avenue): the owner is applying to reduce the front set-back requirement, to facilitate building a duplex on the steep, narrow lot. There is a generous distance from the lot line to the pavement, allowing room for snow storage in the winter; one letter expressed concern that the occupants of the proposed duplex might park on the narrow roadway and create unsafe conditions. Nightingale recused herself because her home is near the property in question. Forsythe expressed concerns about the possibility of cars being parked inappropriately along the road causing problems for traffic and pedestrians.
After discussion of the parking issue, a motion to approve the application CARRIED unanimously.
2. 685 Redstone Drive also seeks a reduced front setback, to better enable a home to better fit into the topography and the other houses nearby. A motion to approve CARRIED unanimously.
3. Environmental Development Permit Application: Lot B, Crest Road (Red Mountain Development Permit Area): a roughly triangular area will be subdivided to create two strata lots and one fee simple lot. Lewis queried the problem of spreading invasive weeds, and Lightbourne pointed out the measures to address that in the requirements; Lewis proposed an amendment to tighten up the requirements about invasive weeds. A motion to approve the application with the amended requirements CARRIED unanimously.
Council reviewed the 2018 Corporate Management Plan Q4 Progress Report, tracking the City’s accomplishments toward its work plan, which were many. The issue of a parking plan came up, and Moore declared that it will be addressed.
Next up was the Rossland Recreation 2018 Update/Report on improvements in delivering recreation programming.
Chief Financial Officer Elma Hamming presented a comprehensive report on Rossland’s property tax levels as compared with other communities. The short answer: we’re toward the high end on the scale of property taxation for communities of similar size, even compared with others whose tax base is mainly residential. For a November 2016 discussion on the topic of Rossland’s taxes and what we get in return, review this article – though it will be slightly out of date just over two years later.
Forsythe commented that he thinks the simple tax-per-$1000-of-assessed-value is a misleading metric; he pointed out that the other communities’ total charges are fairly similar, and people are still buying houses and settling here, and that Rossland offers an amazing lifestyle.
Nightingale pointed out that in a community with more expensive houses but a lower tax rate, residents are paying roughly the same in taxes but have to pay more to acquire a home.
Spooner pointed out that the Council discussion had not addressed one point in the report, which was about whether tax adjustment measures can attract more businesses to Rossland.
Council reviewed the December 2018 Bylaw Enforcement Report. (The Rossland Telegraph sought the reported figures for all of 2018, and your reporter was impressed at the amount of enforcement activity – the number of warnings, and even some tickets, issued during the year.)
Council went on to review the Public Works Report, the Water Consumption Report, the Updated Task List – andMorel suggested that the City move forward with creating parking spaces for motorcycles in triangles where cars cannot park.
Then Council looked over the Building Permit Report, which shows an increase in the number of building permits issued over the previous year, and approved the list of Invoices Paid for Municipal Services for December, 2018, before examining draft Terms of Reference for the Rossland Recreation Task Force.
Forsythe moved that Council defer discussion on the Terms of Reference for the Rossland Recreation Task Force to the next Council meeting. The motion CARRIED unanimously.
Council discussed a request to have a water bill, or a portion of it, refunded because the charges began when the connection was made, for water use during construction, before their occupancy permit. A motion to leave the charges in place CARRIED unanimously.
Nightingale moved that the Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw be reviewed and amended, to accommodate businesses in different zones. Spooner suggested that it is premature to decide that Council wants to amend the bylaw; and an amended motion to consider reviewing the bylaw CARRIED.
Morel attended East End Services Committee – topics included replacement of the Charles Bailey Theatre roof, and increased service level of Victim Services. Rossland’s request for revised Transit scheduling was supported but it’s a 30-week process to effect a change.
Lewis attended Sustainability Commission, and meetings with the Lions Club re the campground, and the Library. Laughter ensued as he reported the food involved with his meetings: “The library’s fundraising event didn’t attract as many people as expected, so they had alot of cookies left … I went to dinner with the Lions and got introduced, we had Yorkshire puddings with gravy, that was nice … ” Other councillors felt they were attending the wrong meetings.
Forsythe moved to revisit the short-term rental policy, specifically the measure of density, and his motion CARRIED.
Forsythe also moved that the Council agenda be delivered sooner. Teasdale noted that the timing of the agendas is in the Procedure Bylaw, and explained why it would be difficult for staff to get the agenda out earlier. The motion to review the Procedure Bylaw CARRIED, with Spooner and Moore opposed.
The meeting adjourned at 7:40 pm, and your reporter donned her spiked boots again and crunched home on the snow and ice, contemplating the summertime problem of motorcycle parking spaces; at an earlier meeting, someone had expressed concern about summertime heat softening pavement so that motorcycle kick-stands could sink in enough to allow large motorcycles to topple over – leading your reporter to conclude that the motorcycle parking spaces should be painted white, which would keep them much cooler and firmer. With skid-resistant paint, of course. There – one problem solved.