COUNCIL MATTERS: Rossland City Council Meeting, February 7, 2022
A pay boost coming for Rossland’s next Council – not this one; Aqueduct Trail improvements inspire City to replace ancient waterpipe at the same time; Financial Plan and future policing costs and City taxes; Rossland’s share of regional Fire Services up to ~$800,000 (and the rest of the RDKB report, too)
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Stewart Spooner, Andy Morel, Chris Bowman, Terry Miller and Dirk Lewis. Absent: Janice Nightingale. Staff: CAO Bryan Teasdale, Manager of Operations and Infrastructure Scott Lamont, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne, Manger of Recreation and Events Kristi Calder.
Public Input Period:
Cezary Ksiazek spoke about rocks on City property in front of another residence, and parking issues.
A resident spoke about his variance application at 991 Redstone Drive, to explain further the need for a variance because of the topography.
Council Remuneration Bylaw # 2782: This bylaw represents the first change in Council remuneration except for annual adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) since 2018, when Rossland’s council members received an increase designed to bring them closer to their counterparts in communities of similar size. As reported in this publication, Council discussed this topic at the January 10, 2022, Council meeting and had asked staff to continue their work. The draft bylaw suggested an increase in Rossland’s mayor’s annual remuneration – starting on November 1 of this year, after the next Council election this coming October – to $30,000, and an increase in councillors’ annual remuneration to $15,000. Morel said he thought the proposed remuneration would provide more of an incentive for people to stand for election. Lewis suggested that for the annual increases, the amount of the increases should be calculated so as not to increase the gap between the highest and the lowest pay; that the overall increase should be averaged and the average amount applied to all. Moore suggested that he figure out how to express that in a motion for another meeting. A motion to give the proposal, as presented, for increased remuneration first reading CARRIED unanimously.
Development Permit Variance Application – 2275 Third Avenue: The applicant wishes to build a suite above an existing garage, and seeks a variance for height, to permit a structure that will be 7.3 metres high instead of the permitted 6 metres, and for a reduced rear setback, as the existing garage is already non-conforming. Staff recommended approval, subject to removal of a carport that encroaches on the nieighbouring property to the west. Bowman and Miller noted that the proposed structure will be tall, but looks as if it would not cause problems for the neighbours. Lewis asked if would be possible to “lock in” long-term rental rather than short-term rental, Lightbourne explained that is not possible. A motion to grant the variance CARRIED unanimously.
Development Permit Variance Application – 991 Redstone Drive: The applicant seeks to reduce the front setback from four metres to two metres, to reduce the amount of excavation and fill required on the steep slope, and to retain trees at the rear of the shallow lot. A motion to grant the variance CARRIED unanimously.
Covid Community Support Fund applications for February: The Rossland Community Pottery Society asked for $2,900 to help them recover from their losses attributable to the pandemic. A motion to grant the funding requested CARRIED unanimously.
Scholarship Funds: A motion to approve annual Scholarship Fund amounts as follows: the JL Crowe Rossland Health Awareness Award of $500, the JL Crowe Rossland Award $750, the Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre Scholarship of $500, and the Seven Summits Centre for Learning Scholarship of $500, CARRIED unanimously.
Heritage Management Committee Terms of Reference: The City created an ad hoc Heritage Management Committee with no Terms of Reference when the Heritage Management Plan was completed. Differing views within the committee have created challenges, so City Staff and the Council liaison are proposing a new structure and Terms of Reference in hopes of resolving the differences and challenges. Spooner expressed concerns about increasing costs and limiting affordability, but Moore explained that the City still controls “the purse strings.” Teasdale pointed out that the committee will be chaired by a Council member. A motion to approve the proposed Terms of Reference CARRIED unanimously.
Bear Smart Community Advisory Task Force – Terms of Reference: A motion to approve the proposed Terms of Reference for this new Task Force CARRIED unanimously. The purpose of the task force is to help Rossland meet the criteria set for Bear Smart Community designation by the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, thereby reducing human-bear conflict and the resulting deaths of bears. Teasdale spoke of the conversations about future curbside pick-up of organic materials, and how education campaigns will align with the Bear Smart efforts.
Rossland Seniors Association – CBT Grant Application Support Request: A motion that the City “assume responsibility for the Rossland Seniors Association approved grant funding in the amount of $16,484,” for their Tech Space project, CARRIED unanimously. CBT is unable to fund the project unless it goes through another non-profit society or the applicant’s municipality, so the Rossland Seniors Association has requested the City consider stepping in to help support the project to be completed. The City would not contribute money toward the project.
Aqueduct Trail Improvements Project: A motion authorizing Staff to purchase additional water infrastructure materials for the Aqueduct Trail Improvements Project through current Water Development Cost Charge Fund Reserves CARRIED unanimously. The trail improvement work could risk damage to the Aqueduct waterline because it is not deeply buried, and this is “a cost effective opportunity to replace aged infrastructure to current municipal standards.”
Tax Talk and Future Policing costs:
Review of 2022-2026 Five Year Financial Plan Preview #2: Chief Financial Officer Mike Kennedy presented the current iteration of the draft plan, and sought further input from Council. Morel mentioned Council’s earlier decision to contribute funding toward a reserve fund for policing, in anticipation of Rossland’s population exceeding 5,000 and triggering a greater contribution to the costs of RCMP services, and the increase in tax income expected. He suggested that the City try to avoid increasing taxes as much as planned; he referred to budget work being done at the RDKB, and the likely upcoming “sticker shock” from the RDKB tax hit on Rossland homeowners. Miller agreed that “trimming” a bit would be helpful to residents. Teasdale spoke about the increasing costs the City will have to cover, and indicated that a 3.5% increase seems reasonable. Miller moved to reduce the allocation to the police fund from 1% to .5%, in hopes of easing the City’s share of the tax burden on homeowners. Moore pointed out that the increases to the City’s costs over the next year, or few years, are still an unknown quantity. Spooner was concerned to put enough funding into the police reserve. Teasdale pointed out that the City can still make adjustments as needed. The motion to reduce to .5% the police reserve fund allocation CARRIED unanimously.
Communication statistics for the City showed many more meetings and phone calls in 2020 because of COVID; there were far fewer in 2021. Spooner noted that the City’s use of social media to communicate with residents is limited, and Council discussed the issue at some length.
A motion to provide the requested letter of support for the Skills Centre, for their project to renovate an old building in downtown Trail and use it for community programs, CARRIED unanimously.
Bowman: watch for a new speaker series coming up at the Museum, on the state of our snowpack. The new Black Jack trails map is available now.
Moore noted that Rossland’s share of RDKB fire services is now expected to be over $800,000 for 2022. Morel commented that much of the cost of the service is for emergency call-outs; Moore pointed to that as one example of provincial downloading onto municipalities. Morel said he will make the detailed figures available to City staff.
Moore gave a notice of motion as follows: WHEREAS the FireSmart Mitigation Rebate program, funded by the provincial CRI FireSmart Community Funding and Supports Program is a useful and popular component of municipal FireSmart hazard mitigation programs and the current reimbursement maximums were set, and have remained unchanged since program inception, in 2019,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that guidelines restricting reimbursement maximums to 50% of eligible costs, to a maximum of $500 per property, be reviewed with consideration to increasing these financial incentives to motivate more property owners to participate in the Firesmart rebate programs offered by local governments.
The motion CARRIED unanimously.
Moore reported that she is continuing to do the mayors’ round tables with IHA. AKBLG is planning pre-election info session for upcoming municipal elections; she reported on the new federal restrictions on single-use plastics, and suggested that Rossland could synchronize our own bylaw on plastics to harmonize with the federal regulations when they are finalized.
RDKB Board and COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES — Report prepared by Andy Morel, Rossland’s representative on the RDKB board, in full:
Utilities Committee January 12, 2022, by Zoom
· Initial rollout of 2022 workplans and budget figures. Numerous simpler, Utility service workplans and budgets with nil or minimal increases were passed. More complicated workplans and budgets were deferred to future committee budget working meetings. *(As an effort to better understand and dig deeper into both workplans and budgets, specific working meetings have been scheduled). More details in future reports.
RDKB Board Meeting January 12, 2022 by Zoom
· Board hears request to rename King George VI Provincial Park.
Alynn Smith of the Rossland Society for Environmental Education requested the Board support renaming King George VI Provincial Park by giving it an Indigenous name. The park, located in Area B near Paterson, is currently being restored to a wetland. Ms. Smith consulted with First Nations groups and is subsequently proposing the park be named p̓aʔáx Provincial Park, which is a Sinixt word meaning “healing.” The Board will write a letter of support for the initiative, which will go to BC Parks for consideration.
· Staff Report – Mark Stephens, Emergency Services Manager reporting on Interior Health Covid 19 statistics for regional area. Covid infection rates up substantially into 2022 with 166 recorded for the Greater Trail region, test positivity rate of 43%. Actual numbers considered to be notably higher – 4 -5X actuals. Many people not seeking testing.
· Covid staff wage continuation contributions holding steady though anticipating a spike with Omicron infections up substantially throughout region. Contributions continuing to be supporting by Covid Restart funding.
· Directors, Diane Langman and Andy Morel re-appointed to Regional Connectivity Committee for 2022.
· Staff Report – Goran D. Re: the hiring of a construction consultant for the Columbia Pollution Control Centre (CPCC) upgrade was approved by the Board at a cost of $238K over a 3 year period.
· 2022 Workplans and 5 year budget projections discussed for a couple of services – specifically Finance Department is looking for more staffing support for increasing workloads. Proposed increases in budgets discussed at length with concerns for residential tax increases. Many residents being squeezed as well by substantial rising assessment increases in all regions. Decisions on workplans and budgets (most) being deferred for further discussions in future budget meetings.
East End Services Committee Meeting January 18, 2022
· Delegations: Imagine Kootenay, Lower Columbia Eric Burton, CEO – Factor 5 Group Lisa Cannady, Project Manager – Imagine Kootenay – Rebecca Richards, LCIC Re: Presentation Representatives from Imagine Kootenay – Lower Columbia attended the meeting and provided the Committee with a presentation on strategic context on program successes and highlights. Supporting economic strategies in many communities. Anticipating some good economic statistics being available once 2021 census results to be released soon. *Potential support to Rossland Economic Development Committee.*
· Staff Report: Dan Derby, Regional Fire Chief Re: Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue (050) Final 2022 Work Plan and Draft Proposed 2022-2026 Five Year Financials. The purpose of the report was to provide an overview of the KBRFS draft proposed 2022-2026 Five Year Financial Plan and request approval of the 2022 Work Plan. Notable statistics from 2021 report highlight the increase of first responder calls for overdose victims up substantially for 2021. Paid on call, (POC) firefighter numbers down through 2021 to 74 from 90. Looking at POC remuneration. Last increase in 2014. Currently $17./hr. Adjusted Administration Cost Re-allocation fees increased proposed budget from 2.5% to 3.22%. Continual Hydro Dam Revenue contributions of $500K towards fire service budget represents approx. 14% of overall budget. Preliminary budget numbers put Rossland total contribution towards Fire Service near or over $800K for 2022.
· Work plan was approved by Committee to take to Board. Staff will bring back an option to consider a 2 – 2.5% increase to the budget. Discussions for future budget meetings.
· Staff Report: Jenn Penney, Manager Victim Services Re: 2022 Police Based Victims’ Services Budget Summary and Work Plan. Work plan was approved as proposed however Staff will bring back an option to consider a 2 – 2.5% increase to the budget for 2022 for future meeting.
· Staff Report: Mark Daines, Manager of Facilities and Recreation Re: Culture Arts & Recreation for the Lower Columbia. Work Plan and Draft Proposed 2022-2026 Five Year Financial Plan. Committee approved with a 0% increase for 2022.
· Staff Report: James Chandler, General Manager of Operations/Deputy CAO Re: East End Economic Development Service 2022-2026 Draft Proposed Five Year Financial Plan. Discussion ensued regarding providing clarity around the role of the LCIC. The East End Committee passed the work plan and referred the budget to a future meeting for further review.
· Staff Report: James Chandler, General Manager of Operations/Deputy CAO Re: East End Cemeteries Service Draft Proposed 2022-2026 Work Plan and Budget. Approved the work plan and a 0% increase in requisition for 2022.
· Staff Report: James Chandler, General Manager of Operations/Deputy CAO Re: 2022 – 900 East End Transit Services Final 2022 Work Plan and Draft Proposed 2022-2026 Five-Year Financial Plan. Discussion ensued and there was consensus to include the Hydro Grant in Lieu of $150,000 in the budget for 2022. The Committee also discussed hiring a contractor to manage the completion of projects. Healthy reserves will allow investment of planned, new transit shelters in many areas of the East End.
RDKB Directors Governance Workshop, January 26, 2022, by Zoom
· Board of Directors and RDKB CAO, Mark Andison participated in a full morning workshop, “Finishing Strong” theme. Led by Tracey Lorenson, Paragon Strategic Services.
An excellent facilitated workshop, encouraging open discussions between Directors on good governance policies and the importance of finishing strong in the final year of this Board’s term.
RDKB Board Meeting January 26, 2022
· Columbia Basin Trust RDKB Director, Betty-Ann Marino provided her first verbal report to Board and Staff on CBT activities.
· Delegation: Selkirk Innovates – with Sarah-Patricia Breen. Dr. Breen gave the Board of Directors an overview of her role and her work. Her goal is to “inform and support our rural region to thrive under conditions of rapid change.” Her focus is rural regional resilience, which includes economic and community development; technology and innovation; and infrastructure and services. She can provide the RDKB with advisory and support services and will explore future research projects. For example, she is working with the RDKB on its Climate Action Plan. Dr. Breen will also facilitate connections with other academic researchers. For more info on Selkirk Innovates, visit https://selkirk.ca/innovates
· Covid Update – Mark Stephens, January 24 ending – Greater Trail area – recording 104 cases.
· Staff Report: J. Chandler presenting 9-1-1 Emergency Services Communication Work Plan – includes infrastructure study on communication equipment upgrades required in region. Work plan passed.
· New Staff Replacement Hire: Welcome Vivienne Hurley, new Director of Communications.
· RDKB to undertake region-wide Alternative Approval Process. Solid Waste Management Committee. The Board approved staff to proceed with an alternative approval process to determine if eligible electors are opposed to the RDKB entering into long-term borrowing of $4.6M to fund necessary upgrades to the McKelvey Creek Regional Landfill and to purchase organics processing equipment. The loan will be repaid over a period not to exceed 25 (twenty-five) years. Any eligible electors who are opposed to the long-term borrowing will be able to submit an Elector Response Form between February 18 and March 21, 2022.
Anyone interested in learning more about the solid waste management projects and the alternative approval process is invited to attend a virtual open house at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 17, 2022. To attend, please call 250.368.0225 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
· Staff Reports: Numerous 2022 RDKB service plans and budgets 2022-2026 presented to Directors. Most services are referred to future, special budget public meetings being held Feb. 2 and Feb. 24, 2022. Service reports/budgets presented specific to Rossland include: Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue Service, Greater Trail Victim Services, Culture, Arts and Recreation for the Lower Columbia, East End Transit Service and East End Regional Sewer Service.
Policy and Personnel Committee Meeting January 28, 2022 by Zoom
· Staff Report: M. Andison, Chief Administrative Officer Re: Employee Travel and Expense Reimbursement Policy. The Employee Travel and Expense Reimbursement Policy was reviewed by the Policy and Personnel Committee on November 25, 2021, resulting in a Committee resolution to distribute the policy to directors for comment. No changes recommended beyond the review. Referred to Board for final approval.
· Staff Report: M. Andison, Chief Administrative Officer Re: RDKB Responsible Conduct Guiding Principles Policy (Code of Conduct). Presenting information for discussion regarding the RDKB Responsible Conduct Guiding Principles Policy – RDKB Elected and Appointed Officials (Code of Conduct). Code of Conduct Policy Review – Recommendation: That the Policy and Personnel Committee review and discuss the staff report from the CAO regarding the RDKB Responsible Conduct Guiding Principles Policy and further that staff, at a future meeting, provide the Committee with an updated draft of the policy based upon direction provided as an outcome of the Committee’s discussions.
· Staff Report: Maureen Forster, Executive Assistant, regarding the policy review work plan for 2022 as presented. The Policy Development and Review Policy, that guides our actions around policy development and review, called for the policies to be renewed every four years. During the review, the Policy and Personnel Committee has the opportunity to refine, or even delete policies as deemed appropriate. Eighteen policies being brought forward to Board meeting agendas for review for 2022. [END of RDKB Report]
The City Council meeting adjourned and your reporter crunched home in the dark on the ice without earbuds or cellphone to disturb the peace, contemplating life, the universe and everything, and also wishing that when a name such as p̓aʔáx (a Sinixt word that we are told means “healing”) is bestowed, or even discussed, the pronunciation of the name would be publicized along with the name itself so that the name can become known, respected and used without being mangled too badly by our untrained vocal apparatuses and guesswork.