Council Matters: Moore absent, Morel at the helm
Rossland moves toward more energy-efficient building requirements; a new sculpture soon; construction to begin on the old Cook Avenue School site; quibbles on climate accountability
Rossland City Council Meeting, February 19, 2019
Present: Councillors Andy Morel (Acting Mayor), Janice Nightingale, Scott Forsyth, Dirk Lewis, Stewart Spooner, and Chris Bowman. Absent: Mayor Kathy Moore.
Public Input Period:
Tracey Saxby offered to answer any questions about the Climate Accountability initiative, which asks municipalities to send letters to the Association of Kootenay-Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) and the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) proposing that hose bodies send a letter to top fossil fuel producers, similar to the one Mayor Moore sent last year.
Andras Lukacs, Executive Director of Tourism Rossland provided an update on the Resort Municipality Initiative, a Provincial program to help small resort destinations attract visitors. It has been extended for another three years, and Rossland has been assigned $100,000 annually (based on current visitor levels) until the program ends. The ski bus subsidy uses up all the allowable amount for programs & services, and the remainder is available for infrastructure to attract and serve visitors to Rossland.
Erik Kalacis, Executive Director of Community Futures, presented a 14-page report describing the organization and what it does. (The report is included in the Council package, and starts on Page 6.) He explained that the Jr. Dragon’s Den program is on hold in this region for the time being, as it was very expensive to run, and had strayed somewhat form its original job-creation purpose. He stated that Community Futures is a “developmental lender” with a “higher risk tolerance” – judging character and capacity as more important than collateral. Among its successes, he listed the Trail Airport upgrades, getting the KBRH heli-port, helping with the MIDAS digital fab-lab, and assisting RED with expansion projects, among many other achievements.
Kalacis said he thought the projects at RED funded by Community Futures gave the Josie Hotel the confidence to invest here.
A motion to approve the Employees – Management Minimum Benefits Policy as amended CARRIED unanimously. The policy had been amended to refer to the maximum amounts allowed by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for meals.
A motion to approve the Council Minimum Benefits Policy, also amended to match the CRA limits,CARRIED unanimously.
A motion to approve the Personal Expense and Travel Policy, also amended to incorporate the limits allowed by the CRA for meals and other expenses, and tightened for accountability by requiring proof of approval of leave for travel or training, and of registration for events, CARRIED unanimously.
A motion to re-confirm the Purchasing, Consulting, and Publicly Tendered Contracts Policy CARRIED unanimously, after some discussion of when documents may be sent electronically, and when hard copy is required.
A motion to re-confirm the Columbia Basin Trust CIP Grant Allocation Policy CARRIED unanimously.
A motion to adopt the NEW Energy Efficient Building Incentive Policy, and further to adopt Step 1 of the BC Energy Step Code by December 15, 2019, and to consult with the local construction industry on further Step Code commitments, CARRIED unanimously . The policy will encourage builders to construct more energy-efficient buildings, by providing incentives including $500 toward an energy assessment before construction, and a rebate of permit fees depending on the level of energy efficiency achieved.
According to the figures suggested by City Planner Stacey Lightbourne, a person who build a home to the highest level of efficiency – Step 5 — could save $3,300 toward the cost of energy assessments and permits. Homes built to higher standards of efficiency will cost less to heat and cool, and will be more comfortable. The communal benefit will be lower Green-House Gas emissions, and less acceleration of climate change.
Kimberley was an early adopter of the Step Code and has achieved good success with it, achieving a 100% participation rate by 2018. In 2017, every project achieved at least Step 3, with the average being Step 4.
Staff Reports and Updates:
A motion to approve a Development Permit Application for a four-plex, planned as the first of six, to be built on the north-eastern corner of the old Cook Avenue School site, CARRIED unanimously.
A motion to NOT consent to the Regional District of Kootenay-Boundary’s proposal to increase the requisition limit for Arts & Culture from $730,830 to a maximum of $912,537 and send a letter as proof of consent to the RDKB, CARRIED with Spooner and Bowman opposed.
Morel, for Rossland, and the City of Trail representative did not vote to support the request at the RDKB table; but the decisions of other municipalities were not yet known at this Council meeting – the RDKB must obtain the consent of five out of seven to increase the requisition.
The January Water Production report showed lower water usage than last year – Manager of Public Works Darrin Albo commented that a couple of big leaks were repaired beforehand. Chief Administrative Officer Bryan Teasdale noted that the sewage flows were also lower than for January 2018.
Bylaw Enforcement Report:
Council and staff discussed potential strategies for discouraging people from parking on streets and impeding the City’s snow-clearing efforts.
RCAC request for approval in principle of war memorial mural, and a letter of support for a grant application, by the cenotaph: a motion in favour CARRIED unanimously.
RCAC request for permission to install sculpture “Equilibrium” — a motion approving the request CARRIED unanimously.
Request from the Rural Development Institute (RDI) of Selkirk College for a letter of support and re-confirmation of a partnership in a climate adaptation project. A motion to re-confirm the partnership with RDI and provide a letter of support CARRIED unanimously, even though it involves about 17 days of staff time, away from regular duties. Teasdale commented that it does provide the City with valuable information.
West Coast Environmental Law request for a motion supporting a letter sent from the AKBLG, and hopefully from the UBCM as well, to the 20 top fossil fuel producers, asking them to accept responsibility for their actions in delaying action on climate change, and for the damage done to municipal infrastructure by extreme events linked to climate change. Bowman asked, “How long before this becomes a lawsuit?” Saxby, in the gallery, responded that it would lay the groundwork for a class-action lawsuit, but that voting for the resolution would not commit the City to participate in any future lawsuit.
Forsyth stated that he “doesn’t get it” and thinks that until we can all do without fossil fuels, it’s hypocritical to complain about the role of the fossil fuel companies. Saxby explained that the fossil fuel companies have, for many decades, been not only suppressing evidence of climate change and their contribution to it, but also actively spreading misinformation denying climate change while expanding production. She expanded on the increased expenses that municipalities are now facing because of events exacerbated by climate change: water shortages, wildfires, floods, droughts, and so on.
Lewis said he thought it would be better coming from the federal government; Morel said that from municipalities, the motion will go to the AKBLG, then to the UBCM, and from there to the province, and eventually to the federal government. He thinks it’s appropriate that the grass-roots should exert pressure on senior levels of government, rather than just sitting around waiting for senior levels of government to act.
Mayor Moore had sent a letter to fossil fuel companies on Rossland’s behalf last year, as did several other BC municipalities.
A motion to send a letter CARRIED, with Spooner and Forsyth opposed.
Nightingale attended the hockey game at the arena on Saturday night —there were estimated 630 people attending, and some were turned away at the door for lack of room. She reported that the Rossland Sr. Hockey team lost to the Selkirk Saints by one point — 7 to 8 — in the last 17 seconds of the game.
Forsyth made a brief statement to the effect that he thinks no one should try to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for its misdeeds while still having to use its products. West Coast Environmental Law had addressed that very issue in their materials, pointing out that during the fight to phase out ozone-layer-destroying hydrofluorocarbons, no one objected that those concerned about the ozone layer still had refrigerators (which then used HFCs as a refrigerant).
The other Councillors reported on their attendance at meetings, and Acting Mayor Morel recessed the meeting to an in camera session. Your reporter clomped home, admiring the full moon’s fuzzy appearance through a light snowfall, and wondering when the lovely snow will be gone from the garden, and from the Seven Summits Trail, and what sort of summer we will have in our region, and in Rossland. Hoping it won't be anything like the summer Australia is having.
Below: "Equilibrium" sculpture, by David Ducharme of Winlaw.