COUNCIL MATTERS: Rossland City Council meeting November 21, 2022
Help coming for “deep retrofits” to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; examining our biases and encouraging diversity in our community and in governance; tackling the issue of Short Term Rentals; dog ownership and changes to fees and fines; Rossland’s Curling Club gets proactive; how to best groom Centennial Trail? – and a brief RDKB report, inter alia
Present: Mayor Andy Morel, and Councillors, Eliza Boyce, Lisa Kwiatkowski, Maya Provençal, Stewart Spooner, and Jeff Weaver. Absent: Craig Humpherys.
Staff: CAO Bryan Teasdale, Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Añonuevo, CFO Mike Kennedy, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne, Manager of Operations and Infrastructure Scott Lamont, Deputy Manager of Operations Ryan Niddery, Manager of Recreation and Events Kristi Calder.
Mayor Andy Morel reminded everyone that we occupy the unceded territories of the Indigenous peoples who lived on this land for millennia – and kept its ecosystems healthy for all that time — before colonists arrived, by reading out Rossland’s Territorial Acknowledgement.
PUBLIC INPUT PERIOD:
Kelly St. John spoke as the owner of a short term rental and a long-term rental as well, identifying BC’s inadequate dispute resolution processes for landlord and tenant disputes as a major reason for people’s unwillingness to rent out property long-term, saying there is “zero protection” for landlords who get stuck with non-paying or destructive tenants.
1. Community Energy Association: coming very soon! – the Rossland Retrofit Assist project
Jessica Martin-Thompson introduced the Community Energy Association (CEA), explaining that it is “the only non-profit in BC focused exclusively on supporting local governments and Indigenous communities on climate and energy activities.” The organization has been working with Rossland on other projects for several years.
Starting in early December, the focus will be on the Rossland Retrofit Assist program – designed to boost Rossland’s efforts to cut community emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), which have continued to rise despite the City’s many actions to curb them.
In its first two years, the Retrofit Assist program aims to:
• Engage at least 1000 Rosslanders
• Empower at least 100 homeowners to apply for program, and undertake home energy evaluations and commit to action
• Support 40 homeowners to create retrofit plans and undertake at least one measure to reduce their energy use by the end of 2023
• Support completion and assessment of a minimum of 4 residential deep energy retrofit projects to reduce their energy use by at least 50%.
Interested homeowners should watch for announcements appearing soon, with information on how to apply for advice and assistance from the project.
2. Rossland Curling Society:
Frank Conradie explained the size and operations of the club, and the number of people and groups the club serves in different capacities. He described the history of the club in Rossland, and its benefit to the community. He said the club has rejoined “Curl BC” after 15 years of absence, and is working with the CBT Nonprofit Advisors Program to develop and implement their vision, to improve and modernize their governance and operations, and expand their activities – and to better align with the City’s operations and plans. The club is working toward its goal of a long-term lease agreement with the City.
3. Pride and Power:
Tara Howse summarized her report on the benefits to the entire community of improving acceptance, inclusion and participation of women and non-binary people, generally and in local government.
Grant money from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities funded the report, designed to identify and help overcome barriers to participation by a variety of historically marginalized people. She warned against non-Indigenous people using the term “two spirit,” noting that it does not equate to LBGTQ+.
Howse emphasized the importance of the two main recommendations presented to the previous Council by a group of youth: Diversity training – having it and acting on it; and “bridging the divide and working with youth.”
She explained that flying the gay pride flag should indicate a place of safety and inclusiveness – that flying the flag is easy, but people need to go further. She emphasized that even strong motivation to participate in local government and other organizations can be overwhelmed by barriers – feeling unsafe, facing hostility or rejection. She urged each person to examine their own bias, to listen without judging, to refrain from dismissiveness, to “be the champion.”
Spooner asked how best to begin; Howse explained that she can’t give a stock answer that will fit everyone, but she recommended starting by acknowledging one’s own privilege, and by taking training, and becoming more aware of instances of bias.
Kwiatkowski commented that she sees this as an additional opportunity for councillors to learn and contribute.
2023 Annual Revenue Anticipation Bylaw # 2796:
A motion to adopt the bylaw, discussed at the previous Council meeting, CARRIED unanimously.
2022-2026 Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw # 2799:
During any year, a municipality’s financial plan will need amendment because of grants received, and unforeseen but necessary expenses incurred; by law, the municipality is required to pass a bylaw accounting for all those changes before the end of the fiscal year. A motion to give first reading to this bylaw CARRIED unanimously, as did a further motion to give it second and third readings.
There will be a public hearing on the bylaw on December 12, 2022, before a vote on adopting it.
2022 Animal Control Amendment Bylaw # 2797:
Changes include lowering the licencing fee for dogs to a flat fee of $20 for a sterilized dog, or $50 for a non-sterilized dog, with no “early bird discount” – the new flat fee is the same as the previous “early bird” amount.
Changes to the fees and penalties (Schedule C):
Section 4.1 (b) – dog attack –decrease from $1000 to $500
Section 4.5 – dog at large in a dedicated exclusion zone — increase from $50 to $150
Section 4.6 – dog left unattended, tied up except at authorized dog parking station — increase from $50 to $100
Section 5.8 – failure to advise City of change of address — previously no fine, now $25
Section 6.3 (d) – failure to advise of dangerous dog attack — decrease from $750 to $500
Kwiatkowsi noted that Rossland has a high dog population, and she thinks the privilege of dog ownership should be balanced by responsibilities.
Boyce said she has issues with some of the dog bylaws, such as requiring dogs to be tied only at the “dog parking stations” because some of those stations are not good places to tie pets, and she thinks the high fine for tying one’s dog in a non-approved place is overly punitive. Boyce suggested striking the proposed changes to the fines; Weaver said he liked the proposed changes. Morel explained the history of a prohibition on dogs in the downtown core for several years after a senior was seriously injured after being pushed over by a dog on the main street, and the later reinstatement of permission for dogs downtown.
A motion to give the bylaw first reading CARRIED unanimously, with the understanding that changes could be proposed before second reading.
Boyce then moved to strike all the suggested changes in fines, but the motion FAILED with three in favour and three opposed.
Provençal moved that the proposed bylaw be given second and third reading; the motion CARRIED with only Boyce opposed.
Ethics, Conduct & Conflict of Interest Policy:
A motion to reconfirm the policy CARRIED unanimously. Morel noted that Council had just gone over the policy during their orientation.
Council Committee System Policy:
A motion to reconfirm the policy CARRIED, with only Spooner opposed. The policy guides Council in creating and managing “agencies, boards, commissions and committees (advisory groups) which in the opinion of Council and the Mayor, may assist Council on issues of direct relevance to the good governance of the City and any special project or purpose.”
Spooner objected to having representatives from Council as liaison to different organizations that are not created by Council, to have those organizations’ views brought back to Council; but Provençal said she thinks it’s important for Council members to be involved in the community, and to have the connections. Morel said he thinks these volunteer boards and organizations are “the fabric of the community” and council should recognize their importance; he added that Council benefits from the information each liaison brings. Kwiatkowski suggested that, annually, Council should review the committees and organizations to ensure that representation is appropriate; Teasdale replied that it is done.
The list of appointments of Council members as liaison to the advisory groups can be found on pages 112 and 113 of the Council materials for this meeting.
THE SHORT-TERM RENTAL QUESTION:
A motion that “Council initiate a short-term rental engagement program as outlined in the staff report dated November 21, 2022, starting with a community-wide survey, and report back to the community and Council with results to inform the development and further consultation on regulatory options and a preferred approach,” CARRIED unanimously.
Weaver commented that he had come in prepared to vote a different way; he sees a huge problem about rentals – he said he took Kelly St. John’s input seriously, buts he understands that reaching out to the public is necessary on this topic.
Kwiatkowski wants Council to get the public input and create a Rossland solution to Rossland’s problem, recognizing that it is a problem common to many other communities. Boyce distinguished between “Air B&B” and renting a portion of one’s home — having room-mates. [Note: check this link for a summary of the status of short-term rental in Rossland. “Short term” means less than 30 days.]
Lightbourne expressed a preference for dealing with the question of STRs sooner rather than later, as she has inquiries daily about when the moratorium on STR zoning will be lifted.
TRAIL GROOMING EQUIPMENT:
Council discussed a recommendation to purchase trail grooming equipment to groom Centennial Trail during the snow season. Lamont explained, answering a question from Boyce, that Option 1 would permit the trail to be groomed starting very soon, whereas Option 2—identified as the best long-term solution – would involve delays in getting the trail packed.
Spooner said he didn’t see any assessment of the need for grooming the Centennial Trail for cross-country skiing – he said it’s used mostly by hikers, dog-walkers, snowshoers, fat-bikers, and the occasional cross-country skier. He also commented that the type of machine being proposed is not the best. Morel also commented on the type of machine, based on his years of experience grooming Black Jack trails.
A motion CARRIED to defer the decision pending further information and agreement on the more suitable type of machine to purchase.
CITY REPORTS FOR COUNCIL INFORMATION:
Council perused the usual reports from staff for the previous month: Building Permit Report, Building Permit Inspection by Type Report, Step Code Energy Rebates, Public Works Report, Water Production Report, Eye on Water Report, Rossland Midtown Construction Report (with a targeted substantial completion date of January 27, 2023), and Bylaw Enforcement Report.
REKINDLE THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS – Tourism Rossland Funding request:
A motion to grant the request for $2,500 eventually CARRIED unanimously, with a comment from Kwiatkowski that using “Christmas” in the event’s title is not inclusive. Calder noted that the event is “100% commerce-specific.” Spooner said he wanted to make it clear that he would not be voting to fund it after this year; Morel said he thinks it appropriate to include a caveat that this will be the last year of funding from the City for this event.
ROSSLAND ARENA SOCIETY REQUEST:
The Society asked the City to waive fees for their use of the arena lounge for occasional meetings. Calder commented that their request is comparable to the RCAC usage of the Miners Hall – the Arena Society has contributed to the arena; and if Council approves this request, Calder will put approval into effect on that basis. The motion CARRIED unanimously.
Kwiatkowski noted that Winter Carnival is negotiating insurance coverage, and it will be contingent on a plan for ensuring public safety during the bobsled event.
RDKB Report – by Andy Morel (not edited)
RDKB BOARD ACTIVITIES: Board Meeting – October 26, 2022
• Post October 15, election meeting saw 6 parting Directors presented gifts of thanks for last 4 years’ service.
• Delegation: Ray Maslek, Trail Arts Council and Visac – re: Concerns regarding the use of leased space in new Trail Selkirk College Campus. Recent ownership changes from RDKB of the Greater Trail Community Centre to Selkirk College did require negotiations for historical uses for user groups. Still working through details.
• Board weighing in on BC Electoral Boundary Change suggestions. Board directed Staff to draft a letter opposing the suggestion of inclusion of Community of Christina Lake in riding of West Kootenay. The Community much more aligned with the Boundary Region.
• Verbal Staff Update: Kettle River Basin Drought Level K. Anderson, Watershed Planner Ms. Anderson reported on the current drought level in the Kettle River Basin (5—the highest drought level). She has been educating landowners on how to reduce water usage. Columbia River Basin and tributaries at Stage 3 this Fall.
• Staff report regarding ATCO Wood Products proposed harvest of a variety of trees from nine (9) cut blocks near Rossland on portions of Surveyed Crown Land Sublots 146-148 and the surface of DL 1052 KD known as the “Lily May” Mineral Claim in Electoral Area B, which includes comments from the Electoral Area – Malde Creek FSR area and one block near Doukhobor Draw Trail area.
• Staff report: Janine Dougall, General Manager of Environmental Services, regarding the results of the procurement process for the general construction works and other components associated with the McKelvey Creek Landfill Upgrade Project, was presented.
That the RDKB Board of Directors approve an amendment to the 2022-2026 Five Year Financial Plan for the Regional Solid Waste Service (010) to increase the McKelvey Creek Landfill Upgrade Project budget from $3.1 Million to $3.8 Million with expenditures in 2022 and 2023; Further, that the additional costs of up to $700,000 in 2023 be supported using short-term borrowing over 5 years. CARRIED.
[END of RDKB Report]
The Council meeting RECESSED to in camera, so your reporter went out into the Miners Hall foyer and stuck her feet back into boots equipped with tiny titanium studs before carrying her slippers and laptop home, contemplating the Rossland Retrofit Assist project and the dedicated efforts of so many people to combat climate change, while higher levels of government continue to subsidize the highly profitable fossil fuel industry and authorize new exploration for oil and gas. It brings on an attack of cognitive dissonance, anxiety, and a better understanding of the frequent use of F-bombs in a distressingly accurate short (under four minutes) video, already seen by over a million viewers, that can be found readily by Googling “honest government ad net zero by 2050.”