COUNCIL MATTERS: Rossland City Council Meeting, May 17, 2021
Got invasive species? The high cost of a weekend call-out; RDKB report, with some good news for Black Jack and the Rec Site; bird feeders still up? – it’s bear season
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Dirk Lewis, Chris Bowman, Stewart Spooner, Andy Motel, Janice Nightingale, and Terry Miller. Staff members who spoke included CAO Bryan Teasdale, Manager of Public Works and Infrastructure Scott Lamont, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne, and Manager of Recreation and Event Kristi Calder.
Before Mayor Moore called the meeting to order, Terry Miller spoke to the tragic death of Peter Hillis, and extended condolences to all his family on behalf of City Council.
Public Input Period:
Mike Heximer spoke, asking if his letter had been included in the Council material; Moore explained that it was received too late, but that it had been circulated to Council; his letter addressed the priorities in scheduling ice time, especially for the Lone Stars and the Ice Hawks. Moore thanked him for taking the time to write, and noted that he had made good points.
Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS)
Laurie Carr of CKISS explained what invasive species are, and why they cause harm. She noted that there are four species of particular concern in Rossland – Knotweed, Scentless Chamomile, Scotch Thistle, and Wild Chervil – along with many other invasives. She emphasized the importance of including language about invasive species in the Official Community Plan. “Prevention is the cheapest – treatment is costly.” Education is important.
She mentioned that Squamish has a comprehensive new invasive species bylaw, which prohibits:
· Sowing, planting, cultivating, releasing or allowing accumulation or spread of invasives;
· Sale of invasive plants and animals; and
· Treatment and disposal that do not conform with best management practices, as described in the bylaw.
Carr said, an inventory is a good idea, so municipalities know what invasives they already have. She also recommended using the “white paper” and “toolkit” she included in her materials to Council.
Lewis mentioned that soil transportation is a concern. Miller asked how the Squamish bylaw differs from ours, and Carr explained Rossland’s bylaw focuses only on “noxious” weeds on the Province’s outdated list, and the Squamish bylaw is much more inclusive.
Moore noted that the readiness assessment and the toolkit are wonderful, and thanked Carr for her presentation and her work.
Rossland Curling Club
Zack Nixon, a Rossland resident and curler, explained what the curling club does for Rossland – he went through the number of players in different groups who play. He said that a lot of work is done by volunteers, and they host bonspiels, bringing visitors to the City, and purchase food and beverages from local suppliers. He pointed out that Rossland’s curling rink is an amenity that very few other ski towns have. He listed improvements to the building that the club has accomplished, and the appliances they have bought. He then listed the costs of operating the club and its building, which total approximately $47,000 — $48,000. He said their Youth Curling Club is the largest in the Kootenays. “We have the oldest continuously-played trophy in the province.” They’re asking for an extended lease; instead of just a one or two year lease; they’d like to replace the carpet, do painting, and replace the dehumidier; but would like an extended five-year “amicable” lease.
Nightingale said she would like to see the club’s books, showing their expenses and revenues – audited. Spooner concurred.
Moore asked if the club goes after grants, and asked when their lease is up; Nixon said, they try for grants, but their last effort was unsuccessful; and the lease is up this September.
Council reviewed and reconfirmed the following City policies as presented: Permissive Tax Exemption Policy, the Retaining Elements and Landscaping Features Encroachment Policy, and the Electric Transport Purchasing Plan Policy.
Council then reviewed the amended Tangible Capital Asset Policy, and a motion to approve it CARRIED unanimously. The policy had been amended to update the thresholds for capital assets. Lewis raised the question of natural assets, and CFO Hamming said that would be a separate policy.
Next up was the amended Recreation Facilities User Allocation Policy. The Council materials noted that the policy had been amended by shifting the prioritization in order to preserve reasonable time slots for long-standing adult groups. A motion to approve the amended version of the policy CARRIED unanimously.
The final policy for review was the amended Energy Efficient Building Incentive Policy. The changes ensure that builders of new homes don’t get bigger rebates than builders of smaller homes, as larger homes can be “energy gluttons” simply by being large. A motion to approve the amended policy CARRIED unanimously. The motion included allocating an additional $20,000 to this program in 2021 and $20,000 in 2022, from the Climate Action Reserve Fund.
Council turned next to the third Annual Recreation and Culture Cost Recovery Report. This report “shows the Revenues, expenses, grants to community groups, capital and cost recovery ratios at the various levels of subsidy by facility/cost center.”
The next report was on grant revenues to the City, both conditional and unconditional. The totals cited in the report have been verified by audits. Moore expressed appreciation for this new report.
Reports: Council refrained from asking questions on the various regularly presented staff reports – Moore did comment that, in bear season, “we should pay more attention to garbage violations.” Morel noted that there are still a lot of bird-feeders up. Bowman commented that a neighbour had been awakened in the wee hours by an RCMP officer who informed her that there was a bear in her backyard.
Council reviewed a letter from a couple who had a plumbing disaster that was flooding their basement on a Sunday morning, and called the City to have their City water valve shut off. They hadn’t realized just how expensive it would be, and were shocked when they received the City’s bill for $500 for the weekend call-out. They questioned having to have two City employees to shut of the water at the street, instead of one.
Council discussed the issue, and Morel suggested that a simple hand-out be prepared that could be handed to the people who need call-outs. Bowman suggested a different approach; and Scott Lamont explained why there are two workers sent out. As to cost recovery, Moore commented that the problem seems to be how it’s communicated to the customer.
Another letter asked that Rossglen Park be updated, preferably with new equipment. The writer noted that the “current structure has been there since I was a small child and I have noticed it has really aged poorly with the wood becoming more and more broken down.”
Member’s Reports (highlights only):
Nightingale reported on her meetings, including those about the Mid-Town Transition project.
Moore had attended a number of meetings, and reported that 50% of eligible people in IHA have been vaccinated.
Morel’s report on recent Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) meetings is appended below, unedited. Check it out for some good news about Black Jack, and the Rossland range Recreation Site, managed by Friends of the Rossland Range Society (FORRS).
The meeting recessed to an in camera session, and your reporter recessed to her living room, having grubbed in the soil for a few hours earlier in urgent but so far incomplete attempts to get more of the garden planted, and the giant burgeoning weeds partially controlled.
RDK report, by Andy Morel (published in full, as received):
RDKB COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES:
Board of Directors Meeting April 14, 2021 by Zoom
· Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives Program Allocations C. Gillis, Financial Services Manager. A staff report with recommendation to approve. All allocations approved by Board.
· Interesting Board table topics/ supported programs: RDKB Board has approved an agreement with Boundary Community Ventures Association for the Kootenay Boundary Full-Scale Food Processing and Innovation Hub project for a term from January 1st, 2021 to March 31, 2023. An innovative project to support small business, farm based, local and sustainable food production and processing.
Substantial grant funding – over $1.4M was awarded towards this initiative. RDKB assistance will offer support for 2 year period in which self-sufficiency of Association towards management and operations of Hub expected.
· Substantial and targeted lobbying efforts from Regional Districts around the Province was successful in securing higher levels of Covid Restart funds from the Province. Initial funds were considerably less than municipalities. “Local Governments placed a funding emphasis on municipalities over regional districts, because municipalities were required by the Province to fully remit their 2020 requisitions to regional districts, resulting in the vast majority of the $425 million grant funds being allocated to municipalities.” Motions were being prepared, submitted and then rescinded to AKBLG and UBCM with the successful lobbying and increased contributions of Restart funds to the Regional Districts.
Regional Connectivity Meeting – April 19, 2021 by Zoom
· Columbia Basin Trust staff report – Universal Broadband Fund Application submitted in mid March in support of infrastructure for a number of rural communities throughout the Columbia, East and West Kootenay Regions to access and or upgrade internet service offerings. Anticipate several months before program grant announcements made.
· CBT staff report on useage of new Starlink Platform Systems for internet access. Early stages of Beta testing and development, the low earth satellite system thus far is showing promise of both access and performance for rural properties that currently are not able to access reliable internet services. Will be interesting to see the potential of this ongoingly for rural homes and businesses in our Regional Districts.
East End Services Meeting – April 20, 2021 by Zoom
· Delegation – Re: North – South, Canada – USA Highway Corridor presentation – Tim Grouette/Dino Dorazio/Dan Ashman/Pete Stamper/Thomson Hickey
Re: North – South Corridor & Waneta Bridge, Low Level Crossing – Advocacy Brief, 2005 Highway Corridor Study
LCIC members attended the meeting to request support from the East End Services Committee and the RDKB to bring the issue of replacement of the Waneta Bridge and related infrastructure forward to the Provincial and Federal governments. Discussion ensued on the state of the Waneta Bridge. The East End Services Committee members were in support of this request. Recommend to send letter of support be forwarded to board. This topic has been floating around for a long time. With Covid recovery $ being allocated in many directions, this appears to be a good time for revisiting this issue.
Note: The replacement of the Waneta Bridge and related highway upgrades would greatly reduce the heavy vehicle traffic through Rossland and reduce the GHGs associated with trucks having to ascend/ descend the Trail hill to access amongst other benefits.
· New bus shelter approvals (2 of 3 applied for), through BC Transit Authority for Lower Columbia. Regional Hospital and Walmart locations.
· Concerns expressed by Directors for perceived lack of coordination with economic development/ direction in Lower Columbia Region. Letter to be sent from EES Directors to LCIC, LCCDTS and Trail Chamber of Commerce expressing concerns in this regard and importance in supporting existing and new business development.
Education and Advocacy Committee – April 22, 2021 by Zoom
· Resolution to UBCM: Use of High Efficiency Appliances Incentives F. Phillips, Senior Energy Specialist Ms. Phillips spoke to the resolution that was prepared for last year's UBCM Convention. She clarified that the RDKB is asking the Province to increase carbon-free technology incentives. CAO Andison asked the Committee if it would recommend resubmitting the resolution to UBCM as is or if it should be amended. Moved / Seconded: That the Board of Directors direct staff to re-draft the resolution titled "Use of High Efficiency Electrical Appliances Incentives" to include a request that the Province be lobbied to provide greater incentives for carbon-free technology; and further, that the resolution be brought to a future Board meeting for review and discussion. Carried
· M. Andison, CAO report. The Committee directed staff to schedule the following meetings and prepare briefing notes: 1. 1% Wealth Tax (Ministry of Finance at UBCM) 2. Long-term Care Facilities (Ministry of Health at UBCM) 3. Increased Library Funding (Ministry of Education at UBCM) 4. Invasive Aquatic Plants (Ministry of Environment outside of UBCM)
RDKB Board of Directors Meeting April 29, 2021 by Zoom
· Delegation: Rural Development Institute Re: Rural Market Housing & Disaster Recovery Housing Spokespeople: Tara Howse, Research Assistant Sarah Breen, BC Regional Innovation Chair in Rural Economic Development at Selkirk College Sarah Breen introduced herself as the new BC Regional Innovation Chair. Tara Howse presented a report titled “RDKB Housing Project” which looked at rural marketing housing challenges and opportunities, as well as seniors’, affordable and disaster recovery housing. The information will be posted on the RDI website for the public to read. Approved for public access by Board.
· Financial Statements and Auditor’s Annual Review Report: The Financial Statements of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary for the year ended December 31, 2020 were presented. Carolyn Gillis, Financial Services Manager, presented the following reports: the Statement of Operations; the Statement of Financial Position as at December 31, 2020; Tangible Capital Assets; and Annual Surplus and Accumulated Surplus. The Financial Statements will be published to the RDKB website the first week of May 2021. This report was followed by the Auditor’s report.
· Interior Health's Expanded Substance Use Treatment Program. Director Morrisette spoke about Interior Health’s substance use program, which has four teams that provide community-based supports for people with addictions. However, those teams will not service the West Kootenay or Boundary regions. Formal request be made, that the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary write a letter to the Interior Health Authority and copied to the Regional District of Central Kootenay and the Minister of Health enquiring why the region has been overlooked and request that such a service be provided to RDKB residents.
· Staff Report: Janine Dougal provided an update on the Organics Facility upgrades in Grand Forks with the recommendation – that the RDKB Board of Directors award the Contract associated with the Grand Forks Organics Facility and General Works to Marwest Industries Ltd. at a contract value of $1,861,302.00 (excluding GST); Further, that the RDKB Board of Directors authorize staff to sign and execute a Contract; AND Further, that the RDKB Board of Directors authorize staff to spend up to 10% of the contract value ($186,130) in contingency to manage unforeseen costs encountered during construction.
*Note: substantial cost increases in equipment procurement and concrete costs have added between $600 – 700K increase over 2019 overall project estimates. Reserves will help to support increases but may impact other planned infrastructure projects, namely, McKelvey Creek upgrades and curbside organics program in East Side. Fingers crossed for grant applications success in support of these other project costs.
· Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Rebate Pledge F. Phillips, Senior Energy Specialist Director Morel, Environmental Services Liaison. A staff report dated April 29, 2021 from Freya Phillips, Senior Energy Specialist, regarding the RDKB electric vehicle infrastructure rebate pledge was presented: That the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Board of Directors pledge to commit that at least 10% of all new light duty fleet vehicles procured by 2025 will be zero emissions vehicles (ZEV) and that the District will annually revisit the pledge to consider a higher ZEV procurement goal. Electric pickup truck offerings will be assessed. Passed
· Exciting Trails news: Black Jack Ski Club Trail Upgrade Support: That the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Board of Directors approve the Gas Tax application submitted by the Black Jack Cross Country Ski Club Society and the allocation of $10,000 from Electoral Area B for costs associated with a biathlon XC ski trail upgrades. And, Recreation Grant – Electoral Area B/Lower Columbia-Old Glory Director Worley. That the application for an Electoral Area B/Lower Columbia-Old Glory Recreation Grant in the amount of $30,000 from the Friends of the Rossland Range Society for an accessible trail extension in the Rossland Range Rec Site at Strawberry Pass, and planning for a loop trail through Old Growth forest. Both grants approved for projects.
Submitted by Andy Morel, RDKB Director/ City Councillor – Rossland