COUNCIL MATTERS: Three meetings held on August 9, 2021
CITY OF ROSSLAND COUNCIL MEETINGS, August 9, 2021, by Zoom
THREE meetings! OCP report and discussion; Public Hearing; and Regular Council Meeting – climate change and unprecedented disruption; that development permit application to log four lots; churches to pay some of their property tax, some other exemptions denied; watering vegetables; RDKB report; a new electric vehicle
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore and Councillors Andy Morel, Janice Nightingale, Dirk Lewis, Chris Bowman, Stewart Spooner, and – participating by telephone – Terry Miller. Staff members who spoke included CAO Bryan Teasdale, Manager of Operations and Infrastructure Scott Lamont, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne and CFO Mike Kennedy.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MEETING, 4:00 pm: OCP Progress and discussion
Consultants Nola Kilmartin and Ingrid Liepa from WSP presented a progress report on Rossland’s Official Community Plan Review and update. Their presentation included a “What we Heard Report,” the engagement tools and events to date, public engagement results and numbers, as well as a review of the 2008 vision and consideration of priorities for Rossland’s future. Compared with other communities cited – Squamish, Kelowna, and Ucluelet, Rossland’s citizen participation was robust.
The presenters praised City Planner Stacey Lightbourne for securing a $20,000 grant this year, to help develop active transportation links.
They acknowledged that we may have entered an unprecedented period of accelerating climate change, and can expect unprecedented disruption from that. They referred councillors to a site (www.menti.com) eliciting answers to a few key questions, beginning with “What are the core qualities/attributes that will allow Rossland to be resilient amidst large-scale disruptions?”
When it came to setting priorities for the updated OAC, Spooner commented that all the aspirational goals are good, but that it may not be helpful to “want to be all things to all people.” He questioned how we can get down to making the hard choices between goals that aren’t fully compatible, such as growth to support the town’s economy, and retaining our small-town feel; or between growth and sustainability.
On the topic of managing growth, comments made anonymously on the form on a shared screen included,
“Stop focusing on resort building, and focus on community building.”
“Work on attracting families, long term residents, businesses – and let tourism be a nice side gig.”
Those commenters felt that their suggestions would result in more sustainable community that would be less vulnerable to disruption from extreme events fueled by climate change, or economic crises.
Lewis commented that some municipalities impose size limits on new homes. Nightingale asked if it would help to “define what we mean by affordability.”
On the topic of managing growth, the presenters pointed out that once property is “pre-zoned” it is very difficult and sometimes expensive to “down-zone” them; Lightbourne acknowledged that pre-zoning an area is not the best practice, and noted that all the land at Red is already zoned.
Spooner commented, “We need an OCP that guides us through a process to get where we want to be, instead of just a lot of aspirational statements about how we’d like to be . . . We should have a plan that actually deals with reality.”
The presentation ended at 5:30 pm.
PUBLIC HEARING, starting at 6:00 pm:
On rezoning the former City Hall property at 1866 Columbia Avenue from Public Institutional to Commercial: No one spoke, but one question had been sent to the City, asking for clarification about what was being proposed for re-zoning; the answer was, just the parcel with the old City hall building on it – not the pool.
REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING:
Public Input Period:
No one raised their little electronic “hand.”
Jackie Drysdale addressed Council about seniors’ housing. She noted that she is a Rossland senior citizen, and has been much involved in the community. She spoke in support of a proposal that came before Council in June, for a housing development on the vacant Cook Avenue property, and it was turned down. Her question – why was it rejected? She thought it had everything that seniors would need, who will need to leave their homes for whatever reason. Drysdale went through the demographic figures for Rossland, from the most recent census, and spoke about the importance to seniors of being able to “age in place” – to remain in their community. She asked Council to have another look at the request for the Cook Avenue development proposal; she said it would be s shame for seniors to be driven out of Rossland because there is no place for them to move into here when they must leave their houses. She suggested a Task Force; she wondered if a new zone could be created for the Cook Avenue property.
Spooner responded to her question of “why?” by noting that Council and planning staff are open to a creative solution, but the developer didn’t seem willing to be flexible; “It takes two to tango.”
Moore thanked Drysdale for making valuable points and indicated that Council agrees with much of what she had said.
Council reviewed a letter from “CABIN,” the forestry consultant hired to create a plan for the harvesting of timber on four lots within City boundaries. Lewis thought the letter was inaccurate in that it implied that Council was seeking a legal opinion on “how” it could reject their application, when it was to get an opinion on whether Council could reject it.
Council then moved on to consider the Development Permit Applications seeking permission to harvest the timber on those four lots. This matter was discussed at the previous Council meeting, and a decision deferred to allow the City to seek a legal opinion on its options.
Motions to issue a Development Permit were discussed; Nightingale thinks that the developer has met the required condition, and she doesn’t feel comfortable putting taxpayers dollars at risk attempting to reject the application.
[According to Rossland’s “Tree Retention Bylaw,” properties can be logged as long as a registered professional forester creates a “plan” for the logging; but that conflicts with terms in the Red Mountain Development Permit Area.]
Lewis said that he feels the OCP taken in its entirety does not support the application; Spooner agreed, and pointed out that the legal opinion acknowledges that this application is not for actual development. Morel also indicated opposition to the project.
Bowman agreed with Nightingale; “I don’t want to put my hand up for this, but I will.”
Miller said, “I’m not at all in favour of this … I’m willing to put some of those taxpayer dollars on the line to oppose this. Once those trees are gone, they’re gone.” Lewis thought that the legal opinion was not sufficiently clear; Spooner thought the legal opinion supported the City’s opposition to the type of logging proposed.
Lightbourne said that the application needs to fit the Development Permit Area guidelines.
The motion FAILED 5 to 2, with only Bowman and Nightingale in favour.
(The applications to harvest timber on the applicant’s other three parcels followed the same pattern – Council turned down all the applications 5 to 2, with the same votes for and against.)
Zoning Amendment Bylaws:
Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2760 – 1615 Nevada Street, to change the zoning from R1 Residential to R1-I (infill residential): a motion to give the bylaw third reading CARRIED unanimously, as did a further motion to adopt the bylaw.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2761– 1508 Park Street; to change the zoning from R1 Residential to R1-GS, to allow a guest suite for short-term rental: a motion to give the bylaw third reading CARRIED unanimously, as did a further motion to adopt the bylaw.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2762 – 2276 Second Avenue; to change the zoning from R1 Residential to R1-GS, to allow a guest suite for short-term rental: a motion to give the bylaw third reading CARRIED unanimously, as did a further motion to adopt the bylaw.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2763 – 1312 Victoria Avenue; to change the zoning from R1 Residential to R1-GS, to allow a guest suite for short-term rental: a motion to give the bylaw third reading CARRIED unanimously, as did a further motion to adopt the bylaw.
Policy review: Council approved the following policies:
Community Grant Funding(as amended) – Lewis suggested adding “under-represented and at-risk groups” instead of replacing “people with disabilities.” Moore said she didn’t think the City should require free or nominal admission; Nightingale suggested “reasonable” admission. Council approved the policy with the amendments suggested.
Risk Management – Public Works Inspection & Maintenance Schedule Policy
Risk Management – Public Works Inspection & Maintenance of Roads & Sidewalks
Road, Sidewalk & Stair Snow Removal
Third Party Call Out – (Moore suggested that the form might be more helpful if it provided basic information about the dollar amounts the caller can expect to have to pay for an emergency call-out; and it could be changed when the current supply of forms run out.)
Third Party Charges: Lewis suggested that the costs of emergency after-hours calls could be absorbed by the City, spread out over all taxpayers. Nightingale pointed out that the City has a “user pay” policy, and that the City has to pay a four-hour minimum charge to the workers called out. Miller said he thinks that the policy is good, and we should leave it in place. (Only Lewis opposed the policy “as is.”)
Development Permit Application – Micro Flats, Red Mountain:
The applicant wishes to build a five storey, 97 unit residential project with mixed-use office, guest amenity and restaurant spaces. Council discussed a motion to approve the application, subject to the usual conditions, and the motion CARRIED unanimously.
Staff requested direction from Council on Permissive Tax Exemptions for applications received for future tax year(s). Lewis suggested increasing the length of term for the exemption from one year to two years. Nightingale suggested three years; Bowman agreed. Spooner agreed, as long as there is a process for “checking in” each year to ensure eligibility, and as long as new applications can be submitted. A motion for a three year term (unless otherwise specified) CARRIED.
Council then went through the list of applicants and flagged some for further discussion.
The Roman Catholic Church is an automatic statutory exemption for both the building and the land it sits upon. Miller referred to the historical involvement of the Catholic Church with residential schools, and suggested that the Catholic Churches in this country ought to be made to pay taxes. Spooner did not object to churches paying taxes on the land around the buildings. A motion to not give an exemption on the land around the Catholic Church CARRIED unanimously.
A further motion to not exempt the land around the United Church also CARRIED unanimously.
A motion to withdraw the tax exemption for the Thrift Store; Lewis opposed that withdrawal, but he motion CARRIED, with Lewis and Miller opposed.
Rossland Child Care Society: A motion to withdraw the tax exemption from the child care society CARRIED; they compete with local businesses, and already pay below-market rent.
Golden City Manor: Spooner wants to be satisfied that they are in compliance with the City’s requirements, and wants for information about their eligibility criteria.
Lower Columbia Affordable Housing for the Third Avenue location; Nightingale suggested giving them a 100% exemption for one year; for the year after that, they can re-apply. She’s not comfortable giving them a longer-term exemption, because the City is already contributing significantly to the project in other ways. Teasdale pointed out that if we want to give them one year of “grace” that should be 2022-2023; he also pointed out that LCAH may need some help for more than their first year of operation. Spooner said he hopes we’re operating in good faith with a not-for-profit that is helping to bring affordable rentals to Rossland; were there understandings in place? Moore noted that she will vote against the one-year limitation, because she wants them to succeed. Nightingale said the tax exemption will help them build a rainy-day fund, but won’t affect the rents they charge. Teasdale said there will be other factors to consider. The motion CARRIED unanimously.
The Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre: Bowman suggested providing the Museum with a five-year exemption, or ten years if possible. Nightingale suggested that the exemption be extended to ten years. A motion to give the Museum a ten-year exemption FAILED, with only Bowman in favour; a motion to give the Museum a five-year exemption CARRIED unanimously.
Appointing a Bylaw Officer: a motion to appoint Jared Saxby as Bylaw Enforcement Officer CARRIED unanimously.
That electric vehicle, again: A motion to approve the quote from AM Ford for supply and delayed delivery of a 2021 Ford Mach-E Select AWD in the amount of $63,906.70 (inclusive of applicable taxes) CARRIED this time around – unanimously.
Star Gulch swimming hole? Maybe, but more likely not – based on detailed input from staff. Nonetheless, Spooner moved to form a small committee of Council and Operations Staff to investigate the feasibility of a small swimming facility at Star Gulch reservoir. He explained, “we’re not going to know if it can be done at all until we have all the information. Until that point, it’s all conjecture.” Miller agreed that we need more information, and that it may not be possible, but he wants the information gathered. Lewis said he wasn’t sure why we need a plan, and suggested that the City could ask IHA the questions. Scott Lamont reiterated the information he had already obtained from IHA and included in the Council package for this meeting. Moore said she loves the idea of a local swimming hole, but is really concerned about climate change and our water supply, so she’s no longer in favour of pushing this idea. Morel agreed with her – “Factoring in the fire risks and other issues, it’s a no-brainer. Drinking water is more important.” Bowman agreed, and the motion FAILED with only Miller and Spooner in favour.
Council reviewed the usual collection of reports, which now include a regular report on the Mid-town Transition Project. (list)
Letter to BC Government about the (former) CARIP grants: a motion to submit a letter of concern about the discontinuation of CARIP and strongly support the continuation of a similar program CARRIED unanimously. The letter will explain that the program has been a huge benefit to Rossland and other smaller communities who would otherwise be unable to meet their commitments under the Climate Action Charter, and list our past projects and usage of the CARIP funds.
Members’ Reports (selected highlights only):
Lewis noted that in town, several businesses are mandating masks, given the rising number of COVID-19 cases. He also put a motion forward to exempt Happy Hills Farm from Stage Four water restrictions if and when we need to implement them; he said the matter could be revisited if the water levels went too low. Moore supported the motion, noting that the farm produces a lot of food for the community. Morel reported that community members have questioned why the City is still watering the community playing fields. Manager of Operations and Infrastructure Scott Lamont responded that the City has reduced watering levels in the parks, and that if watering is eliminated altogether, weeds will take over. Nightingale stated that Happy Hills produces food to sell to the community. Lewis asked if we cut off water to Rossland Beer, or the hotels, during Stage 4. Nightingale pointed out that Stage 4 wouldn’t “cut off” watering vegetables – just reduce it to a minimum. The motion to provide an exemption for Happy Hills at Stage 4 FAILED three to three, with only Bowman, Lewis, and Moore in favour. Miller’s phone connection had failed at that point.
Moore reported on her various meetings, and asked Lamont whether the water being used to reduce dust at the Emcon site is treated City water, or not. Lamont stated that it is not potable water – not treated City water.
Morel submitted his report on Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, published in full below:
RDKB BOARD MEETING, JULY 29, 2021
• Delegation: Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association (ILMA) Presentation by Dan Battistella, President, ILMA and Scott Weatherford, Atco Wood Products. Presented ILMA’s perspective on the Province of BC’s Modernizing Forest Policy. The industry has advocated for many of the points in the policy. The three guiding principles are: increased forest sector participation (diversifying tenure); enhancing stewardship and sustainability; and strengthening the social contract. Mr. Battistella outlined ILMA’s priorities: more support for independent facilities; improved fibre access; more diverse tenures; protecting the working forest land base; and focus on getting the right log to the right mill. ILMA is asking the RDKB Board to support these priorities. He advised that the Province of BC’s input portal will be open until September 3, 2021.
That RDKB staff write a letter to the Province of BC regarding its Modernizing Forest Policy, highlighting the need for consultation with watershed users and concerns over old growth forests. To be brought forward for August Meeting for approval as input.
• Provincial letter – Re: Rodenticide Ban in effect for 18mos. Director request to provide information to regional residents to this ban through Board Highlights online newsletter.
• Staff Report – Activation of EOC, Emergency Operations Centre regarding the encroachment of the Nk’Mip Forest Fire into RDKB Western boundary jurisdiction. Many rural homes being threatened by this substantial forest fire with mandatory evacuations on order. Emergency evacuation centres set up in Midway and Grand Forks for residents in need.
• A staff report from Mark Andison, CAO regarding the Columbia Basin Trust’s request for a nomination to its Board of Directors was presented. Discussion amongst Directors as to the continued 2-year extension of RDKB’s representative, M. McConnachie’s term. It was decided to not extend the term and direct staff to advertise for a new CBT representative for January 2022.
• Staff Report Re: Fire Protection Service Levels Reviewed and affirmed. The 4 fire departments under RDKB jurisdiction re-affirmed the service levels as presented.
The Council meeting adjourned and your reporter closed her computer to go see what the household cat was complaining about so loudly and in such detail . . . but failed to figure it out, unless it was just an earnest desire for more attentive cuddling.