COUNCIL MATTERS: Rossland City Council meeting, March 13, 2023
Rossland’s “Not So Bad,” right? Moving toward more cooperation with our neighbouring communities; should lot coverage be subject to variance applications? A report on Rossland’s water supply and treatment; an assessment of how our pool facility falls short; and a new RDKB report. And more, of course!
PRESENT: Mayor Andy Morel and Councillors Maya Provençal, Steward Spooner, Jeff Weaver, Lisa Kwiatkowski (by Zoom) and Craig Humpherys (by Zoom); absent: Eliza Boyce. Staff: CAO Bryan Teasdale, Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Añonuevo, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne, CFO Mike Kennedy, Manager of Operations and Infrastructure Scott Lamont, Deputy Operations Manager Ryan Niddery, and Executive Assistant Rachel Newton.
Morel read out the City’s Land Acknowledgement.
PUBLIC INPUT PERIOD:
Morel read a short statement regarding the importance of respectful behaviour, and a request to respect the time limit as well.
Shawn Gresley-Jones spoke about the amount of social media coverage resulting from the Hamm-City lawsuit. He said he thought it was detrimental to the City, and that new Councillors and City staff should ask Morel and Spooner to resign.
Jim Firstbrook of the Sustainability Commission’s Economic Development Task Force (EDTF) presented the EDTF’s four priority areas – broadband, childcare, affordable housing, and a DRAFT proposal for a “Rossland Not So Bad” lifestyle metric campaign, and sought further direction from Council. He noted that the “Not So Bad” tag is provisional and may be changed.
The presentation provided statistics demonstrating that Rossland’s taxes and fees, and their rate of increase in recent years, are very reasonable compared with those of comparable municipalities in BC. Firstbrook noted that housing is an area of high interest, and that the City has now done “most of the easy stuff,” so the SC will welcome additional direction from the City.
Spooner commented that the EDTF is “a bunch of volunteers” doing good work, and welcomed more ideas from the housing Task Force about what more the City could do to improve our housing situation. He would like to see the financial comparisons made with other communities of similar size rather than just resort municipalities.
Kwiatkowski asked who the target audience for the “Not So Bad” campaign would be – Firstbrook responded, mostly Rosslanders. Morel thinks we may be “in a bit of a bubble” with new people moving into town, and new builds. Humpherys thought the growth in Rossland may be driven by the housing market. He is not keen on the “not so bad” phrase. Provençal said she really liked the “not so bad” tag.
Morel noted that the unemployment rate in the Kootenays is less than 3% right now.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2800 – 990 Black Bear Drive: a motion to adopt the bylaw, which amends the zoning bylaw to include the “tourist cabin” provision and changes the property’s zoning from R1 Residential to CD9 – CTC (Commercial Tourist Cabins) and wasdiscussed at previous Council meetings, CARRIED with only Humpherys opposed.
Council Procedure Bylaw # 2798: A motion to give this bylaw third reading CARRIED unanimously.
New Policy – Electronic Meeting Policy: Staff presented an administrative policy on electronic participation in Council meetings, for councillors, staff, and the public. After a brief discussion, Council voted unanimously to approve the policy.
Policy Review – Cost Sharing, Materials, Equipment and Employee Loan Policy: Amendments to the policy suggested by staff would formalize equipment and cost sharing with other municipalities when such arrangements are mutually beneficial. A motion to accept the policy as amended CARRIED unanimously.
Council then reviewed and unanimously re-confirmed each of the following policies:
· Bylaw and Policy Enforcement Policy
· Screening Officer Policy
· Street Light Policy
· Employee Training and Professional Development Policy
Development Variance Permit – 2144 Leroi Avenue:
Council discussed a motion to approve the Development Variance Permit application to replace a carport with a double garage with suite above with the following variances; a rear setback variance from 2.0 metres to 0.3 metres – a 1.7 metre variance; a driveway width variance from 4.0 metres to 10.3 metres – a 6.3 metre variance; and an interior side setback variance from 1.2 metres to 0 metres – a 1.2 metre variance.
Spooner expressed opposition; he could not see any reason why the owner here could not build within the setbacks, and he is not in favour of granting unnecessary variances. Lightbourne explained why the variance is needed to build the desired structure on the lot. A motion to approve the variance CARRIED with only Spooner opposed.
Development Variance Permit – 2607 Maple Crescent:
Council discussed a motion to approve a Development Variance Permit application to build a double garage adjacent to an existing garage with the following variances; a front setback variance from 4.0 metres to 0.6 metres – a 3.4 metre variance, and a driveway width variance from 4.0 metre to 9.7 metres – a 5.7 metre variance. Spooner expressed opposition on the basis that it is un necessary; Morel also expressed opposition to having so much garage fronting on the street. Morel asked if there was any rationale; Lightbourne said, the property is steep, and would require a lot of fill to build further back. The application FAILED with Spooner, Morel and Humpherys opposed, and Weaver, Provençal and Kwiatkowski in favour.
Zoning Amendment Proposal:
Staff asked Council to consider asking for a draft amendment to the zoning bylaw, for Council discussion and a public input process, that would enable the percentage of a lot allowed to be covered by buildings to be subject to an application for a variance.
Spooner said he appreciates the several advantages of the proposal, but is concerned about incrementally allowing more and more coverage of lots. Part of his concern is water management and part esthetics and having less available land for gardens and other vegetation. He would like strict requirements for allowing such variances, and a sustainability checklist. Morel indicated that he has similar concern about allowing larger buildings and leaving less ground for water absorption. He noted that for “aging in place,” people don’t need large buildings, just well-designed ones with a reasonably small footprint. Lightbourne noted that it has the potential to affect all of Rossland, and that the proposal is not to change the lot coverage, just to make it possible to seek a variance to alter it.
Kwiatkowski is in favour of putting the question to the community – a public input process.
2023 Corporate Management Work Plan:
Kwiatkowski asked about KPIs (key progress indicators), and Teasdale responded with information on how the City measures progress. Spooner asked about a watershed management plan.
A motion to approve the plan as presented CARRIED unanimously. The 21-page document is available for public viewing in the materials for this meeting.
Invoices Paid: Council examined and approved the invoices paid by the City for the preceding month.
Water Operations 2022 Annual Report (for information only):
This detailed 13-page report is prepared for the City and the Interior Health Authority, and provides an informative overview of Rossland’s water supply, storage and treatment, and includes detailed results of water testing. Bottom line: We enjoy very good tap water.
Rossland Pool Facility Condition Assessment (for information only):
Residents who wonder how our pool fails to measure up, and how much it would cost the City to bring the facility into line with current accessibility, health and safety standards, will find this comprehensive document interesting; there are 79 pages of information to peruse.
Spooner felt that the report did not answer his question about whether the pool itself is structurally sound; Lamont indicated that any re-tiling could reveal more about the state of the underlying concrete. Kwiatkowski asked if there is an annual health & safety assessment of the pool before it opens; Lamont said, yes.
Staff Reports: Council examined the usual collection of reports –
1. Building Permit Report
2. Building Permit Inspections by Type
3. Step Code Energy Rebates
4. Public Works Report
5. Water Production Report
6. Eye on Water Report
7. Bylaw Compliance Monthly Activity Report (most common violations: parking obstructing snow removal, and dumping snow on roadways.)
8. Rossland Midtown Status Report (estimate for occupancy – May 2023 at the earliest)
9. Updated Task List
Spooner attended latest midtown meeting – LCAH is working to bring down the rates for one-bedroom units. BC Housing characterized the project as the most financially sound project of its kind.
Below: Andy Morel’s Report on meetings of the Regional District of Kootenay-Boundary
RDKB BOARD ACTIVITIES:
Board of Directors – Special Budget Meeting by Zoom – February 1, 2023
• Staff Video – FireSmart Program. An education/promotional video for RDKB residents to encourage reduction of flammable materials and foliage around homes and outbuildings. Produced by Emergency Preparedness and Regional Fire Service.
• Staff Report – Barb Ihlen, CFO with Financial Report Information – Five-year Financial Plan Report with Budget 2023 Requisition Comparisons from 2022 for RDKB Municipalities and Regional Areas. Budgets on some smaller services still being worked through thus not a final report. Financial pressures for 2023 include a 6.6% BC CPI increase – currently declining, low unemployment in Kootenay Region – 2.9% Total budget figure for 2023 thus far is $67.7M for Capital and Operational. Substantial Capital projects include Curbside Organics Program rollout with related upgrades to McKelvey Creek Landfill as well as anticipated start of Columbia Pollution Control Centre upgrade project for 2023/24.
• Emergency Preparedness Budget includes a new, permanent full-time position. Previous, short term contract position. Workload/workplan requirements continue to increase requiring permanent position. Financial plan approved by Board.
• Regional Solid Waste Budget – Staff Report – Janine Dougal, Manager, Environmental Services. Substantial increase in 2023 budget – 24%, required to support cost increases and Capital projects, mostly on East End of District supporting McKelvey Creek Landfill upgrades and Curbside Organics rollout for Fall 2023. Final numbers still being calculated thus this budget was deferred for future meeting.
• General Government Budget Report – Mark Andison, CAO reporting. Substantial increase for 2023 – 98%, pertaining to staffing increase in IT and custodial staff support related to terms of sale Union negotiations for the sale of Greater Trail Community Centre to Selkirk College. As well, the reduction of using dam revenues to support this budget come to an end this year contributed substantially to overall increase. Workplan and 5-year budget passed.
• Notification from Environmental Services Manager, Janine Dougal re: collection and management of major appliance requirements through RDKB. Specifically, refrigerators and freezers with ozone depleting substances. Secure Metal, Waneta no longer accepting these appliances thus RDKB will be taking over this management requiring an amended bylaw to be introduced later in a February meeting.
Liquid Waste Planning and Steering Management Committee Meeting – February 2, 2023 – Trail, BC
• Closed meeting called to discuss the Columbia Pollution Control Centre upgrade project.
East End Services Committee – February 13, 2023, Trail, BC
• Delegation – Gina Ironmonger – Incredible Farmers Market – Trail. Looking for financial support contribution – $30K/year, for two years to hire a market manager. Substantial market growth has impacted volunteer support – burnout and lack of recruitment. Supporting Fruitvale market and potentially Rossland market to be considered as well.
• East End Transit – bus shelter designs. Consultants hired earlier to locate and design locally made/supported shelters. Directors chose 2 preferred designs, 1 wood and 1 metal for placement throughout the East End Communities and Areas A&B. Designs to be refined and local suppliers/contractors to be contacted for pricing and eventual tendering. Five year budget summary for Transit Service passed by East End Committee.
• Economic Development Services and budgets discussed by Directors. Support of LCIC to provide local services. Increase to budget approved to support rising staffing costs within LCIC. Discussion of Directors regarding Trail’s separate agreement with LCIC – financial and reporting. Reconsideration hoped for by Committee for Trail to rejoin other East End members in regional support of this service.
East End Curbside Working Committee – February 13, 2023, Trail, BC
• Staff update on McKelvey Creek Landfill Project. Janine D. and Staff updated Committee members to the status of the construction schedule and re-configuration of the site during the construction period along with communication plan to public and contract site users. “Join the Conversation” on the RDKB website provides good information on the changes to access site. Note: Construction is underway with major changes already impacting site. Planning on June 30, 2023 project completion with new upgrades.
• Upgrades to McKelvey Landfill will support new curbside organics composting program diverting approximately 1200 metric tons of organic waste from site – 10% reduction of overall landfill tonnage and a major reduction of GHG source. Utilities Meeting – February. 16, 2023, Trail, BC
• Staff reports finalizing 2023 workplans and Service budgets throughout the Regional District. For East End Services specifically the sewage capture and treatment budget is looking at a 7% increase for 2023. Many increased cost pressures contributing to this increase. The required purchase replacement of a major pump at the Murray Park Pump Station is required to support required redundancy at a cost of $500K.
Board of Directors – February 16, 2023, Trail, BC
• From Education and Advocacy: two proposed resolutions to be sent to AKBLG Spring Conference and hopefully to UBCM in September in support of better management and maintenance of BC Recreation Sites throughout the Province. The second resolution in support of soliciting the Provincial government for top up financing in support of approved projects that have substantial cost increases since Covid and project approvals over the past two plus years.
• A number of service workplan and five year budget approvals supported by Board towards finalizing overall budget plan for 2023 requisition amounts.
Policy and Personnel Committee Meeting – February 22, 2023 by Zoom
• Staff Report on new Email policy for alignment of Freedom of Information requirements. Using positional addresses vs. Personal addresses supporting both staff and political position succession.
• Staff Reporting on Procedural Bylaw Updates. Outdated policies aligning with new Provincial requirements and Board changes and recommendations. A number of small changes requiring substantial staff time and effort. Board thankful for Staff efforts, specifically our Corporate Officer, Anita Winje.
• Staff reporting on new Provincial requirements under Accessibility BC Act. The Province requiring policy development to support inclusion in employment for many marginalized groups. Potential to support municipalities needing similar requirements with committee member development and regional cooperation/collaboration on this initiative.
Board of Directors Meeting – February 22, 2023 – Trail
• Substantial discussion by Staff and Directors regarding MP Cannings request to address concerns around proposed Electoral boundary changes to our Federal Riding specifically to Eastern boundaries taking the Beaver Valley communities out of current Riding and adding to East Kootenay Riding. Lots of local opposition mounting and a strategy and letter/email writing campaign to oppose changes to Federal Electoral Commission. City of Rossland Council supported this opposition with a letter sent to MP Cannings to pass along to Commission.
• Delegation: CP Rail Presentation – Community Safety Representative provided the Board an update on efforts to communicate Community Safety Policies and Procedures.
• Regional Solid Waste Workplan and Budget 2023 Update provided by Staff. Final financial numbers now in and Staff looking for Board approval of a 22.58% increase for 2023. A substantial increase to support both increased operational costs and significant capital projects being undertaken for 2023. McKelvey Creek Project costs have climbed significantly with now expected increase of $700k over original budget numbers supporting the new curbside organics service for rollout in September 2023.
• CFO, Barb Ihlen provided Draft 2023 Financial Plan including individual Community and Area anticipated Financial Requisitions. Rossland’s preliminary requisition for 2023 is currently $2,264,529. This is a $229,652. increase over 2022. Individual Community Financial Officers will start plugging these requisition #s into overall budgets to determine tax requisition requirements for 2023.
END of RDKB Report
The Council meeting adjourned, and your reporter walked home though puddles of water and slithery slush, contemplating the Water Operations Report in the Council materials, and thinking it would be a good thing if more residents of Rossland knew more about our water supply and system – and about how the effects of climate change are likely to affect them.