COUNCIL MATTERS: Rossland City Council Meeting, September 7, 2021
Seniors’ housing arguments; a new Tree Management Bylaw in the works; Councillors talk about reducing Rossland Council size; and, SO many bears – please pick your fruit trees!
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore and Councillors Terry Miller, Dirk Lewis, Janice Nightingale, Stewart Spooner, Chris Bowman and Andy Morel.
Public Input Period: No electronic “hands” were raised to speak.
1. Cezary Ksiasek spoke to address the objections Council members had expressed about his 40-unit proposal for senior’s housing on the former Cook Avenue School property. His presentation was wide-ranging, and queried why 40 units on the old school property in Lower Rossland was considered “too big” when 37 units plus a new City Hall was considered acceptable on the Mid-town Transition Project; and why 95 units for a new development at Red was laudable while his 40-unit proposal was unacceptable. He objected to the statement that parking “on City property” was criticized for his proposal, while the Mid-town Transition Project, with no underground parking, will have all its parking “on City property.” He also hinted at a conflict of interest on the part of a member of Council.
Moore asked Ksiasek to send his notes to Council so that they could provide him with considered responses, and noted that his comparisons were not “apples to apples.”
2. Carol Hobbs DeRosa spoke in favour of restoring the permissive tax exemption for the property occupied by the Saint Andrews Church building. She spoke extensively about her background and community participation, and declared that she is passionate about reconciliation with Indigenous peoples – and that the United Church is as well. She made an argument for the land surrounding the church building fitting into the definition for Statutory Exemption, rather than Permissive Exemption. She noted that the United Church was the first to apologize for its role in the colonizers’ treatment of Indigenous people, and later, specifically for its role in the residential schools, and played an active and co-operative part in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Council discussed a motion to give first, second and third reading to Bylaw # 2763, Permissive Tax Exemptions for 2022 to 2026, as presented. Nightingale appreciated the presentation about the red-roofed church, but stated that she still thinks they need to support the community by paying taxes, and that she thinks they can do that while keeping up the good works they do. Spooner noted that Golden City Manor’s process for determining eligibility for lower-rent status is inadequate; Nightingale said that they are working on it, that their permissive tax exemption is only for one year while they improve their criteria, and they are looking at an “asset threshold” of $100,000, and she will not support “doing anything drastic.” Spooner’s amendment FAILED unanimously, and the original motion CARRIED unanimously.
Motions to give third reading to Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2766 and OCP Amendment Bylaw # 2767 for 1866 Columbia Avenue (Old City Hall) CARRIED unanimously. A further set of motions to adopt the bylaws also CARRIED unanimously.
Council discussed a motion to give Tree Management Bylaw # 2769 first, second and third readings. Nightingale suggested increasing the size of the residential lot exempt from the bylaw’s restrictions to 100’ x 100’. Another amendment was to delete the specific types of replacement trees. The amendment passed with only Moore opposed, and the main motion (as amended) CARRIED.
Staff Reports and Referrals:
A motion to direct Staff to let the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure know that the City of Rossland has no concerns regarding the application to subdivide the property at 4700 Mann Road, in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, was amended by adding a request that the new lot must use Mann Road as its access, and the amendment and the amended motion both CARRIED unanimously.
Council Size Reduction Process: Staff provided Council with requested information on the process of reducing the size of Rossland City Council. If Council decided to go ahead with the process, it would need to begin no later than early in 2022, and would involve engaging residents in the Alternative Approval Process under section 86 of the Community Charter. Spooner noted that a group of seven is generally considered better for decision-making; Nightingale felt that reducing the number of councillors would decrease the diversity and would increase the workload considerably. Miller commented that he likes the number of council members as it is. Morel added that the committee liaison workload is “substantial” already, and that those positions are important. Bowman concurred. Moore thanked everyone for their thoughts, and noted that a number of residents had raised the issue, and it was good to have everyone’s thoughts.
A motion to approve the draft 2021 agreement with the Community Energy Association to develop the Rossland Home Energy Leadership Program CARRIED. Lewis, who has been engaged in home renovations, commented that an estimate of $100,000 for a deep energy retrofit of an old home is not realistic.
A motion to approve a request from the Rossland Museum to use non-leased land for an “Outdoor Artisan Market” event for BC Culture Days, on September 25 and 26, 2021 CARRIED; but Council also passed a motion to not loan the City’s generator for the event.
Council discussed the report on the Mid-Town Transition Project, and the contingency amount being partially used for the additional excavation required for pockets of “unsuitable soil.”
Nightingale presented a draft document in preparation for a meeting the following day – Wednesday, September 8, 2021 – with the B.C Minister of State and Child Care, on Rossland’s need for more child care spaces.
Miller noted that he had been approached by a developer stating that he thought developers were not sufficiently represented in the OCP review. Spooner said that Don Thompson was involved; Lightbourne responded that there was a group of developers on the Task Force.
Miller made a motion that the City waive or refund the $50 fee for “Stop the Harm” using the City signboard for a message about the toxic-drug crisis, and the motion CARRIED unanimously.
Pick your fruit trees, please!
Spooner spoke about the “wildlife situation — I’ve got bears, grizzlies, coyotes running around.” He commented on the number of unpicked fruit trees he has noticed around town. Moore agreed that “we really are having a wildlife problem” and thinks residents could be reminded to pick their own fruit trees. Morel said he counted five bears in his yard over a two-hour period one day.
Morel reported that the federal – provincial governments have come up with a substantial contribution to the new 62-million dollar (so far) sewage treatment plant, which will provide much improved treatment of wastewater before it is released into the Columbia River.
Moore noted that the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) meeting is coming up.
Council did not recess to an in-camera meeting, as they had one immediately before the regular meeting, to discuss “litigation or potential litigation” – it ran a few minutes over, so this meeting started about five minutes late.
The Council meeting adjourned, and your reporter immediately dove into a fluffy new novel to avoid thinking about world affairs, planetary environmental degradation, or all the weeds in the garden that were ignored during the heavy smoke and are now too daunting to tackle, or the overly well-nourished Northern Pocket Gopher who has eaten so many of the carrots and has not been terminated by the cat or anyone else.