Rossland City Council meetings, February 3, 2020
Re-zoning for the Mid-town Transition Project (and a few others); Graffiti wall; the high cost of fire services – still rising; fall clean-up; and more
Council members present: Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Dirk Lewis, Chris Bowman, Stewart Spooner, Andy Morel, and Janice Nightingale.
Public Hearing– Re-zoning 1920 Third Avenue, to allow a project providing affordable housing and a new City Hall:
The gallery was well-attended. Mayor Moore introduced the topic and invited input from the public. The City had received three written submissions. The architects, of the firm Boni Maddison, were invited to speak first, about the project plan, context, and timeline.
They explained that project is for 37 units of workforce housing – to which BC Housing and CBT are contributing a total of $5.6 million. They said the design will use sustainable materials and systems and will meet the requirements of Step Code 3. Housing will include storage units for Rossland’s recreational opportunities – bikes, skis, skateboards and so on. The City Hall space will have adequate office and meeting space, and storage to meet the legislative requirement for document storage and accessibility.
To that last point, the City is required by legislation to store thousands of paper documents, but currently lacks proper space for them, and stores them in ten different locations – not an ideal situation.
Jan Morton of the Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society spoke next, providing figures demonstrating the need in this region for affordable housing. Many of the people “in housing need” work in the hospitality sector that is so vital to Rossland’s economy. Morton said that combining City Hall and the housing project is “of critical importance” to the success of the initiative.
She said that although the site – contaminated first by being built with mine waste, and then by being used as a rail-yard — has been remediated, there would be further expensive remediation required if residences were placed on the ground floor as well, and that would place the costs beyond anything affordable. “The project will better ensure that people who work in Rossland can live in Rossland.” It will also help employers recruit workers, she pointed out. Speaking as a resident and taxpayer, she said she sees value in having a “purpose-built” place for City staff and council members to work.
Public questions and comments:
A resident wanted to know if there was a “comparable study” on other communities of similar size, and what their City hall requirements are. The architect explained that, yes, they have studied other community’s needs and have designed a number of other City Halls for other communities. She also asked if there was a traffic study; Moore said, yes, they have done a traffic study.
Another resident spoke in support of the project, calling it “a novel solution” and said she’s looking forward to the development.
Another resident wanted to know when the project would begin paying taxes; Moore explained that the City would not determine that until after the project has been built. He also asked about the estimated cost per square foot; the architect estimated less than $365 per square foot all-inclusive, with construction costs at about $265 per square foot.
Another resident spoke about the number of short-term rentals in town now, and said he’d rather “get rid of the B&Bs and just have (long-term) rentals.”
Another resident spoke against the whole idea that Rossland needs a new and larger City Hall. He’d like a newer, bigger house too, and to have his nieghbours pay for it; he can’t understand why staff need any more space to work. (The hand-out for the meeting mentioned that 18 staff members are now sharing ten office spaces.) He asked, “What guidelines are you using to measure the success or failure of this mixed-use project?” Moore explained that if the housing is full, it will be a success. He asked what would happen if it were a failure. The architect explained that he has never seen one of these projects fail; and Moore explained that if he’s worried about his tax dollars, none of them are going toward the housing portion of the project.
Another resident spoke, arguing that the income requirements need to accommodate people with lower incomes. Morton explained they won’t have firm figures for rents and income levels until after the project is done.
Another resident asked if the City would consider doing a referendum on the project, and Moore said no; the City isn’t borrowing money to do it, so no referendum is needed, and the project has been underway for some time, with several opportunities for public input.
Another resident asked whether the “investigation” of the old City Hall is complete. Moore said, yes, but the City hasn’t received the full report yet. He wanted to discuss details about the cave-in of the old City Hall roof, and also wanted a referendum. Moore explained that the purpose of the public hearing was to discuss the re-zoning of the property on Third Avenue, not the failure of the beam in the old City Hall.
Another resident spoke in support of the project, explaining that he and his wife moved here because they could afford to live here; he asked how many would be able to move here now.
Another resident spoke in favour of low-cost housing, but “is not confident that you have all the answers,” and is sad to see that a quarter of the property will become a parking lot.
Others wanted to know why the City hasn’t already fixed up the old City Hall. Moore explained that the City won’t make decisions about that building until they receive the full report from the insurance company. She also explained that if the City sells the old building, it’s no use spending money to repair the damage if a buyer just wants to demolish it and build something completely new.
When no further residents stood to speak, Moore adjourned the Public Hearing and most of the attendees began to leave. When the noise had subsided, Moore opened the regular Council meeting.
Ryan Kuhn spoke about the management plan for King George Park. He sought City support for a proposal to seek permission from BC Parks to incorporate a process that could lead to developing additional trails that will not adversely impact the environment. Kuhn stated that a number of illegal and damaging activities are taking place in the park, and suggested that limited and well-planned trails could discourage that, and increase public awareness and appreciation of the sensitive habitats in the park.
1. Seven Summits Centre for Learning (7S) – Ann Quarterman, Valerie Legler and Vivienne Hurley presented to Council on why Rossland needs to retain K-12 education, as outlined in our Official Community Plan. Quarterman explained the origin of the Visions for Small Schools Society, which operates 7S.
She explained that the school has gone to a four-day week which makes it more flexible for athletes, dancers, and others. They are currently extending their lease of the building for another two years, with a three-year extension.
Valerie Legler’s son Cooper is a Nordic ski racer. The family searched for a school that could accommodate his athletic and academic needs – and found 7S; the family moved here and bought a house.
Quarterman and Hurley wanted to ensure that Council is aware of the history of education in Rossland, and how 7S benefits students as well as bringing economic benefits to the City, before reviewing the OCP.
2. St. Andrew’s Church – Brenda Hooper and Vivienne Hurley presented a request for an application to the Columbia Basin Trust arts Program, and for permission to hang a removeable mural on the concrete retaining wall at First Avenue and Queen Street, and to maintain it for ten years. They think it would serve several purposes for Rossland — beautifying a concrete wall, celebrating local artists, and “fostering postive commumity spirit.”
Moore said that it’s a wonderful idea, but explained that the timing is not good, because that retaining wall needs to be replaced – and should be replaced before the mural is installed. Darrin Albo, Manager of Public Works, agreed and explained that the retaining wall has been on the City’s to-do list for some time and is at the top of the list for retaining wall work.
Council approved the minutes of the previous meetings, including the Committee of the Whole meeting on January 21, and the recommendations made at that meeting.
Decision arising from Previous Meeting:
Council discussed the request from Keegan Taylor and the Youth Action Network for permission to use the wall(s) of the City’s storage building near the Youth space and skatepark as a “graffiti and mural wall,” and for a donation of $250 for supplies. The motion to grant the request CARRIED unanimously.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2717 — Midtown Mixed-Use Project: A motion to give the bylaw changing the zoning of the property third reading CARRIED unanimously.
Nightingale pointed out that whether the housing will be at market or below market, “we need it.” Morel noted that there is obviously a need for further communication about the project, as many people at the public hearing didn’t seem to understand all the “due diligence” the City has done beforehand, and are all too willing to second-guess the professionals. He noted that people had asked questions about the operating costs of the proposed new City hall, without seeming concerned about the operating costs of the old hall, or what the current temporary premises are costing.
A further motion to adopt the re-zoning bylaw, subject to a list of seven conditions, CARRIED unanimously.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2718 – 1827A LeRoi Avenue: A motion to give first and second readings to the bylaw to change the property’s zoning to allow for short-term rental of two rooms, and to schedule a Public Hearing for March 9, 2020, CARRIED unanimously.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2715 – 105 Granite Road: A motion to adopt the bylaw converting the property to Rural Resort Residential zoning CARRIED unanimously.
City of Rossland Building Bylaw # 2716: A motion to adopt this lengthy and comprehensive bylaw, which incorporates the Step Code to improve energy efficiency, CARRIED unanimously.
Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw #2720: This bylaw amends the OCP to include a specific supporting policy for the proposed South Kootenay Green Link Trail, a bicycle and e-bike commuter trail linking Rossland, Warfield and Trail. A motion to give it first and second readings, and to schedule a public hearing for March 9, 2020, CARRIED unanimously. Councillors expressed enthusiasm for the project.
City of Rossland Energy Efficient Building Incentive Policy: A motion to confirm the policy with six new amendments – designed to update the policy and align it with the new Building Bylaw, and to ensure that it also applies to renovations — CARRIED unanimously.
Staff Reports and Updates:
a) BC Parks Referral — King George Park Provincial Park Management Plan: A motion to recommend that the plan include a process for interested parties to recommend new trails within the park that would not adversely impact environmental values, FAILED with only Spooner in favour. Concerns were that further trails expansion (there are two trails, primarily mountain biking trails, that already cross the park) would threaten sensitive environments in the park and enable further transfer of invasive weeds. The park is well outside Rossland’s City boundaries.
b) Council 2019 – 2022 Strategic Plan Review: A motion to approve the updated Strategic Plan CARRIED. The plan was updated with the approval, earlier in this meeting, of the minutes of the January 21 Committee-of-the-Whole meeting, in which Council did some wordsmithing to refine the plan, and also with a few other wordsmithing changes suggested and agreed to at this meeting.
c) City of Rossland – Future Solid Waste Collection and Disposal Services: A motion to seek updated pricing based on current services CARRIED unanimously. There will be a trial fall clean-up this year.
Requests arising from Correspondence:
1. A motion to approve the request from Rossland Mountain Market to hold an outdoor market on February 29, 2020, at Harry LeFevre Square, CARRIED unanimously.
2. J.L. Crowe requests: the annual request that Rossland continue its traditional awards for students was enhanced by a motion to increase them from $250 to $500 for the Health Award and from $350 to $750 for the Rossland Award for students at J.L. Crowe, which CARRIED unanimously. Moore had pointed out that Rossland’s offerings for its students’ futures were comparatively low.
Selected highlights from Member Reports:
Nightingale reported on a presentation from Interior Health and BC Transit called “Health Connections,” a transit service to support people who need to travel to non-emergency medical appointments within the areas served. Where those areas are is not clear at this point.
Morel submitted a report on the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB). The cost of fire services has been rising, and continues to rise, with the majority of the RDKB board (but not Morel or Cacchioni) voting in favour of adding a new Deputy Fire Chief position, plus a new pick-up truck to support that position, and a new staff gym in the Trail firehall. A ladder firetruck replacement is anticipated in 2024. Rossland’s contribution to fire services in 2020 will be approximately $710,000, and this is expected to rise during the next five years to over $876,000 by 2024.
Bowman reported on the Museum board meeting, and that on Saturday February 15 there will be a“campfire and family-friendly evening in the snow” – all by donation, and thanks to a grant from the Province of BC. The Museums’ mine experience development has been delayed for a year. The Museum is having a membership drive – take note: $250 will get you a lifetime membership.
Moore suggested a motion to allocate $1000 to joining an initiative promoting the benefits of electric vehicles (EVs) and the motion CARRIED unanimously. She will be participating in the March 5 “Swim-a-thon” to raise funds for the Greater Trail Hospice Society.
She reported that RCAC is applying for an arts grant to fund for five untreated wooden sculptures to be sited on Centennial trail, and was seeking a letter of support and a commitment that City staff would install concrete pads for the sculptures, and keep them clear of debris during trail maintenance. A motion to that effect FAILED. A query to Albo revealed that the concrete pads would cost the City about $500 each, for a total of about $2,500. One councillor pointed out that the concrete pads would last longer than the sculptures.
The meeting adjourned, and your reporter removed her fuzzy bedroom slippers, put on her cramponed boots and puffy coat, and perambulated home, contemplating the very high cost of our regional fire services and the very high value of inter-community sharing and co-operation, and wondering whether there is some point at which the cost of the former exceeds the value of the latter – and if so, where that point might be.