COUNCIL MATTERS: Rossland City Council meeting, June 6, 2022
Youth encouraging more diversity in local politics; ‘natural’ gas and decarbonization; trash and wildlife; and – do you have your EyeOnWater yet? AND the latest RDKB report.
Present: Acting Mayor Andy Morel, and Councillors Chris Bowman, Dirk Lewis, Janice Nightingale, Terry Miller, and Stewart Spooner
Staff: CAO Bryan Teasdale, Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Anonuévo, Chief Financial Officer Mike Kennedy, Manager of Operations Scott Lamont, and Manager of Recreation and Events Kristi Calder
Acting Mayor Morel read out the City’s Territorial Acknowledgement.
Public Input Period:
No one took advantage of the opportunity to express themselves for two minutes.
1. Fortis BC:
In response to a suggestion during the February 22 Council meeting, that Council look into possibly banning new gas installations in new builds and renos, representatives of FortisBC spoke about renewable natural gas and decarbonization. Blair Weston introduced the presentation, and Brooklyn Maligaspe (by Zoom) presented it. They described renewable natural gas as “carbon neutral.” They explained that Fortis is gradually increasing the percentage of renewable natural gas in its supply, and that capturing gas from sewage plants, agricultural operations, landfills and so on, decreases the amount of methane being released into the atmosphere to exacerbate climate change.
Spooner noted that the presentation did not address the question of the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere by burning gas, and the difference between using regular gas and RNG. He commented that under the scenario presented, we would still be using 85% regular natural gas by 2030, and many people are concerned that the change isn’t enough, or soon enough. Lewis commented that it doesn’t seem logical to add to the usage of natural gas when we’re still struggling (and failing) to reduce emissions.
2. Pride and Power Youth Committee:
Lily Holmes, Raya Delaire, Cooper Legler and Kaydance Nowak spoke about diversity in municipal politics, focusing on LGBTQ and female representation. They emphasized the importance of diversity, and the loss to our society of marginalizing people for being women, or gay, or trans or otherwise different. They suggested there is a need for education, and that when a new City Council is elected, it would be helpful for councillors to receive some training. They also suggested that Council members could make presentations to schools in Rossland – explaining what local politics is about, and about the benefits of diversity. They also suggested “bridging the divide” – ensuring that young people know, for example, when Council meetings are, so that youth can more easily attend. They provided information on some resources and left Council with a question: “Has this council’s past actions regarding LGBTQ+ issues and rights been performative or substantive?”
Morel commented that Mayor Moore has been very good about reaching out to youth.
Freedom of Information Bylaw # 2790: a motion to adopt the bylaw CARRIED unanimously without further discussion.
Request for Direction:
Staff requested direction from Council on the issues of solid waste collection, becoming a bear smart community, organics diversion, and wildlife interactions. Council had the benefit of 66 pages of material to study on the topics. Morel thanked Teasdale for the material.
Spooner spoke to suggest that we need, at minimum, to provide bear-resistant bins for those who need them, and perhaps to provide the counter-top composters for people who garden and actually use their compost.
On the question of maintaining, decreasing, or increasing current service levels for garbage collection, a motion to maintain current service levels while working toward other solutions FAILED 3 to 3. Morel noted that the trash pick-up will be going to semi-automated, so the bins will need to be compatible with the pick-up machinery.
Bowman asked what possibilities there might be for people who can’t make the regular garbage collection times; Teasdale reviewed the possibilities – such as having a bin like the one at the Museum which is operated by NCA, at the Arena, but listed the ongoing problems and abuse of that service. Miller suggested a webcam to monitor a community bin.
Miller preferred Option 2, and moved to direct staff to explore expanding current service until a new Regional Program is established by adding a communal bin for centralized solid waste disposal as additional service to that of curbside pickup: the motion CARRIED with Nightingale and Lewis opposed.
Nightingale commented that the community seems more aware of bear issues this year than back in 2019, when a consultant was not given much guidance from residents in a survey.
On the question of organics diversion, Nightingale asked Morel when it was planned to be implemented, and Morel answered, in 2023; and Rossland will receive a certain number of bear-resistant (not “proof”) bins. Morel noted that other communities report that the biggest challenge is not the curbside collection, but with people not managing their waste well.
A motion to go with Option 1 (maintaining the current mix of green bins and critter resistant and bear resistant bins) FAILED 3-3.
A motion to defer the question of organics bins until more information is available CARRIED.
Council perused all the usual reports, including the EyeOnWater app uptake – the City is encouraging residents to register with EyeOnWater, to track their own water usage and detect leaks in their own systems. The City will be moving from monthly billing to quarterly billing for utilities, starting next month, and using EyeOnWater can help residents better understand and modify their own water usage patterns.
Residents can sign up at this page: https://www.eyeonwater.ca/signup and should enter their postal code with no space, and their utility account number as 3 digits, dash, 8 digits, dash, 3 digits. Utility billing account numbers are located on the top left corner of utility bills.
A motion to approve the request from Madhu Wellness Collective to use City park facilities for scheduled outdoor yoga and movement classes through spring, summer and fall of 2022 CARRIED unanimously. The group specified Esling Park, but the City wishes to be able to refer them to other City park areas if needed for other events or for City operations.
A motion to approve the request from In Tuition Animal Training to use Ross Glen / Bike Skills Park for scheduled outdoor dog training classes through spring, summer and fall of 2022 CARRIED with Lewis opposed. The organization covers the insurance and cleans up after each event.
A motion to approve the Museum and Discovery Day event requests for Canada Day as outlined in their event support application CARRIED unanimously. The Museum wants to implement their pre-COVID event format, running a Canada Day event including cupcakes, live music and family events including “touch a truck” – always popular. The City will pay for up to $500 worth of cupcakes, and will provide a piece of City equipment for the “touch a truck” event.
Member Reports (selected highlights only; RDKB report below poster):
Bowman – Saturday June 18 – Cemetery clean-up day, Columbia Cemetery, 10:00 am:
Andy Morel submitted this report on RDKB activities:
RDKB COMMITTEE & BOARD ACTIVITIES
RDKB BOARD AND STAFF – CLIMATE ACTION VISIONING SESSION – MAY 3, 2022 BY ZOOM.
· RDKB staff and Consultant Group – “Pinna Sustainability Inc.” led visioning exercise with Board Members. Staff and Consultant presented risks and challenges of a changing climate with the requirement for preparations for changes with adaptation and flexibility. Workplans and policy will be developed with the requirement of looking through a Climate Change lens.
Public engagement encouraged and started online through RDKB website under “Climate Action Plan” – https://jointheconversation.rdkb.com/climate-action-plan. Project started in Dec. 2021 through until completion and approval of report and plan in Oct. 2022.
LIQUID WASTE MANAGEMENT PLAN MEETING – MAY 5, 2022 INPERSON AND ZOOM
· Staff Report and update on Lower Columbia Wastewater Treatment Project – CCPC Upgrade. Working with consultants to further tendering procedure.
REGIONAL CONNECTIVITY COMMITTEE – MAY 6, 2022 BY ZOOM
· Meeting with CBT staff and Committee Members – update on various Capital Works projects related to Internet Connectivity throughout the Columbia Region.
UTILITIES COMMITTEE – MAY 11, 2022 by Zoom
· Multi monthly reports for wastewater monitoring between Rossland, Warfield and Trail updated to Mar. 2022. Rossland wastewater contributions for Nov. 21 – Mar. 2022 average in between 16-18% of total volume at CPCC, Waneta Plant.
· Questions from Committee members on low volume contributions to CCPC plant compared to Warfield with considerably less population. I&I reductions and improvements with continued focus on water conservation including metering, have reduced the overall water usage within Rossland. Our community continues to be the only metered community within the RDKB East End communities.
· Staff complimented on excellent water usage newsletters for rest of RDKB Regionalized water districts. RDKB has hired a WaterSmart Ambassador to support water conservation among residents for various areas within the Region.
· Logging concerns in watersheds continue to be topic around Board Committee tables. Better communication on cut plans with Forestry Companies and Min. of Forests once again encouraged.
BOARD MEETING – MAY 11, 2022 by ZOOM
· Safe Restart Covid Grant Allocation – Staff provided suggestions for allocation of $30K towards vulnerable population agencies. Directors agreed to provide funds towards 2 housing societies and 9 Foodbanks throughout the RDKB.
· Provincial Alert-Ready System M. Stephens, Manager of Emergency Programs, provided an update on the Provincial AlertReady System. The Province launched the system last week and has expanded it to include floods and wildfires, in addition to tsunamis. It will be used for evacuation orders and imminent risk to life. Some residents will not be able to receive alerts given their hardware (i.e. cell phones). It is another tool to use by our emergency management team; however, the district will continue to use the RDKB’s Voyent Alert mass notification system. The RDKB has asked that the Province hold a table-top exercise so that the district can test the process around the system.
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE – MAY 12, 2022 by ZOOM
· Staff verbal report update – Janine Dougal, Manager, Environmental Services
Numerous project updates throughout Regional District. On the East side, McKelvey Creek Upgrades project moving forward with tender documents advertised on BC Bid System. Bid opportunities close on May 24.
· RFP sent out for Curbside Organics service contractor. Staff have provided a mapping system throughout East End 7, lower Columbia region to establish # of households (approx. 8700) who will be supported with curbside organics service. Some communities will have dual pickup support with the use of a dual packer truck taking both refuse and organics at the same time. Currently, Rossland has an independent contractor picking up garbage weekly and will be looking at the combination of pickup services as an option. May 2023 is the proposed rollout of the expanded curbside organics service.
· Staff have provided numerous samples of potential bin designs for residential organics storage and curbside pickup. Most are critter resistant bins with more robust bear resistant bin designs also being considered. The original grant application plan supported a mix of smaller 80L critter resistant bins to the majority of households in the East End and an allocation of 120L bear resistant bins. Community individual needs and concerns will dictate the final allocations. At this time, Rossland has been allocated 268 bear resistant of the 1790 total household bin allocations. Extra bear bins will be at community/taxpayer expense depending on funding options. Bin purchase orders will be placed soon – in Aug. 2022. Number and style of bins will need to be finalized prior.
EAST END SERVICES COMMITTEE MEETING – MAY 17, 2022 in Person
· Delegation: LCIC/LCCDTS Staff and Directors presenting 2022 Workplan Progress to date. Numerous Economic Development Projects being supported including potential designation of “Western Battery Hub” in recognition of growing recycling and global usage/importance of batteries in electrification of transportation sector. Multiple other projects/opportunities being pursued by Staff and Directors.
· Delegation: BC Transit Staff with verbal updates on Trail Transit Exchange Project – continuing progress forward. Federal funding support being sought. Public washrooms still in discussion with municipal dollars required to fund this portion.
· Staff presentations: Quarterly Workplan Updates for Arts, Culture and Recreation, Fire Service, Transit Services, Victim Services.
· Potential Waneta Bridge Replacement – the invitation to District Manager, Ministry of Transportation and LCIC Directors to attend next East End Services meeting to discuss future plans for Waneta Bridge in relation to potential North- South Highway Corridor expansion.
EAST END CURBSIDE ORGANICS WORKING GROUP MEETING – May 17, 2022 In-person.
· Janine D., Staff – reporting on bin allocations and design options as well as continued update on project rollout – McKelvey Creek project update as part of the organics project. Notes in Solid Waste Committee meeting noted above.
POLICY AND PERSONNELL COMMITTEE MEETING – MAY 25, 2022 In-person/ Zoom for me.
· Board Director – Code of Conduct Policy update – adopted as amended by Committee. Sent to Board for Approval
· Review of Procurement Policy by Finance Staff, Barb Ihlen. Notable changes to outdated policy with streamlining procedures process – raising of spending thresholds from $1k to $5K without formal purchase order requirements, including spending and signing authority changes.
· Development of surplus asset disposal policy by Staff. No policy previously. Approved by committee to take to Board.
RDKB BOARD MEETING – MAY 25, 2022 In-person/ Zoom for me.
· Staff Report by Staff, Finance Manager – 2021 Financial Statement followed by Delegation of Auditor Report by Grant Thornton staff members explaining audit process. RDKB staff received accolades for work well done by Auditor with no concerns around financial recording procedures by our Staff. Congratulations to Staff!
· In-camera meeting released to Public included a substantial report by Fire Chief, Dan Derby explaining to Directors the procurement process and evaluation for the purchase of fire service trucks over the next few years. The board approved the purchase of seven pieces of apparatus at a total cost of $5.6 million. They include an engine and rescue vehicle for Big White; a tender for Beaverdell; an engine and tender for Christina Lake; an engine for Fruitvale; and a ladder truck for Trail. The cost of the trucks will be borne by the individual service areas through a combination of reserves and short-term and long-term borrowing. Locking in the purchases is seen as prudent considering the challenging supply chain issues in most industries these days.
· Columbia Basin Trust – In person report by our new RDKB representative, Betty Ann Marino. Director, Marino brought us up to date with news about CBT programs including new newsletter, workshop offerings, longer term planning efforts and new online podcast series partnered with Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine – check website for links.
· Letter of thanks from Community of Logan Lake for support from RDKB Fire Service support during the 2021 Tremont Creek Wildfire. Directors recognized Fire Service for these efforts of support.
· Staff Report: Chief Derby provided an update on the development of the First Responders Wellness Program. Substantial staff input over the last couple of years has come together to develop a program keying in on Resilient Mind Training, Mental Health and Wellness and a Toolkit development. Program is being well received locally and afar by other jurisdictions.
· Multiple Staff 2022 Workplan updates include: General Administration, Solid Waste, Emergency Services, Emergency Communications.
· Trail Director, Colleen Jones queried staff and Directors about Cooling Centre options in our various communities during a substantial heat wave.
· Staff Report on new BC Election regulation upgrades for upcoming 2022 Elections. Increased option of mail in ballots being allowed with more staffing support likely required.
[End of RDKB Report]
The Council meeting adjourned, and your reporter strolled home in the lovely, cool, clear evening, recalling that mere hours earlier, rain and hail had thundered down — yes, there was also lightning and thunder — SO hard, with such a roaring sound, that the household cat was utterly terrified and could not believe anyone’s assurances that she was safe and that everything was really okay.