COUNCIL MATTERS: Rossland City Council meeting, June 19, 2023
Rossland’s library — well-loved and well-used; Residents rising against an open-pit mine proposal; Short-term rental zoning questions; a resolution on child care; the latest RDKB report; and more . . .
PRESENT: Mayor Andy Morel and Councillors Jeff Weaver, Stewart Spooner, Lisa Kwiatkowski, Eliza Boyce, and Craig Humpherys. Absent: Maya Provençal.Staff: CAO Bryan Teasdale, Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Añonuevo, Executive Assistant Rachel Newton, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne, Manager of Recreation and Events Kristi Calder, Chief Financial Officer Mike Kennedy, Manager of Operations and Infrastructure Scott Lamont, Deputy Operations Manager Ryan Niddery.
PUBLIC INPUT PERIOD:
Russell Vinegar spoke about short-term rentals. He noted that if short-term regulations are relaxed, they will be very difficult to tighten up again in future. He asked Council to consider how rules will be enforced and he was concerned about the rules limiting short-term rentals in the “old town” area of Rossland.
A. Rossland Public Library Association
Stacey Boden, Executive Director and Richard Kemick, Board Chair, spoke about our library’s services and programs, and how the City can continue to support the library in future. Per capita, Rossland’s library is among the most heavily used in BC, with nearly half of Rosslanders active library users, and it is one of the most heavily used indoor facilities in Rossland. Challenges: The Province has kept library funding frozen since 2009, making it difficult to find and retain qualified staff. Space is another limitation.
B. Save Record RidgeAction Committee (SRRAC)
Melanie Mercier, Volunteer Committee Member, spoke about the proposed West High Yield’s (WHY) proposal for an open-pit mine on Record Ridge. She showed slides of the site and explained the goals and activities of the committee – essentially, to ensure to the best of their ability that citizens are informed and participate in the public consultation to oppose the project. She outlined adverse impacts on Rossland, and what she identified as inconsistencies and misrepresentations in WHY’s materials. Among other things, she noted that TriMac Transportation, where WHY said they would be delivering the crushed ore for loading on train cars, have told her that they have not heard from WHY and have no arrangement with WHY.
She asked the City and all concerned people to send letters with their reasons for opposing the WHY application to Kathie Wagar, the Mine Permitting Officer for this application; Josie Osborne, BC’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation; George Heyman, BC’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy; and to Steven Guilbeault, our federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
(Below: a tiny portion of the claim area, showing road cut through the grassland to access WHY's exploratory drilling — photo by Sara Golling)
Council reviewed and reconfirmed the following existing City policies: Half Masting of Canadian Flag (opposed only by Spooner, who regards flags as a hold-over from the days of semaphores); Communicable Disease; Freedom of the City; Proclamations; and, Advertising and Promotions.
REVIEW OF ANNUAL COMMITTEE & LIAISON APPOINTMENTS:
Council members expressed opinions about their participation on so many groups; many felt that it was too demanding of their time and tends to dilute their efforts on the actual work of Council. A motion to hold a CoW meeting, date to be determined, to discuss which positions are necessary and which can be eliminated CARRIED unanimously.
2022 CITY OF ROSSLAND ANNUAL REPORT:
A motion to approve the annual report, with minor corrections, CARRIED unanimously. Boyce congratulated staff on making it so interesting and readable.
RESORT AREA SHORT TERM RENTALS:
Council discussed the complexities of zoning – and of contemplating changing zoning – at the Red Mountain base area, while staying true to the Official Community Plan. Information from City Planner Stacey Lightbourne explained, “Marketing for these newly subdivided parcels indicates that non resident short-term rentals are permitted, and many property owners have bought properties with the understanding that they would be permitted to rent them out short term.” The staff recommendation was not to change the rules for short-term rentals in the Red Mountain Base area, but to use “the newly defined terminology for accommodation.”
Presently, all properties north of the Centre Star Gulch Reservoir may be used for all types of short-term rentals.
For the Redstone area, staff noted that there is a higher percentage of owner-occupied residences, and a lower expectation of being able to use homes for short-term rental. The staff recommendation for Redstone was that “the regulations for short term rentals should be the same as Old Town with the exception of the area directly around the clubhouse designated as Commercial in the OCP.”
Weaver commented that he now agrees with the staff recommendations on both the base area and Redstone.
Spooner thought that buyers purchasing houses for the purpose of renting them out as short-term rentals is “a detriment to the community” – he referred to some American ski resorts as illustrations — and he doesn't want to see it in Rossland, “and Red is part of Rossland.”
Boyce commented that “rental ghost towns” lack community cohesiveness and spirit, and affordability; she agrees with the recommendation about Redstone, but is willing to examine the Red base area more closely.
Kwiatkowski summed up her understanding that the Red base area is there to support tourism, and the “old town” is to support long-term residential.
Humpherys noted that leaving the base area “wide open” to short-term rentals could lead to the kind of community he doesn't want Rossland to become.
Morel noted that quite a few families have settled in the base area, and he supports some modification of the short-term rental “free-for-all” there.
Spooner asked Lightbourne what risks the City would face by changing some zoning at the Base area. Lightbourne responded that it would not be a problem for the City, and the first step would be to amend the OCP, and go through the necessary public process.
Boyce asked Lightbourne to tell Council what Sechelt has done; she explained that there will be no STRs allowed in residential areas, but they are currently allowed on a temporary basis until there are enough commercial rentals available.
A motion directing staff to draft official community plan and zoning amendment bylaws to align the short-term rental (STR) regulations with Old Town Rossland (allowing for permanent resident STR only) for the following zones around Red Mountain: CD3-RRR, CD3-RFA, CD1-LDR1, CD1-MFR1, and R1-R, was put to a vote and CARRIED.
INVOICES PAID FOR MUNICIPAL SERVICES FOR MAY, 2023
Council approved the May 2023 cheque register, after clarifying the purpose of the item labeled ”Bullshooters” when Kwiatkowski questioned it – it's an opportunity for staff to have money from their paycheques put into an account every month and get it back at the end of the year – it’s a savings account.
CITY REPORTS FOR MAY, 2023:
Council reviewed the following, provided for information only:
Building Permit Report
Building Permit Inspections by Type
Step Code Energy Rebates
Public Works & Water Production Report [We’ve been using more water this year.]
Eye On Water Report
Bylaw Compliance Monthly Activity Report [One notable entry: “During the month of May, the City of Rossland concluded an Offence Act prosecution at Rossland Law Courts concerning three contraventions of the Burning Bylaw No. 2383. A joint sentencing submission was entered which resulted in a $2000.00 penalty and a court order prohibiting unlawful burning within City limits.” ]
Rossland Midtown Status Report [Occupancy is now expected in July.]
Updated Task List
Stephanie Gregson of the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC sent a letter requesting that Council adopt the following resolution, hopefully to go to the 2023 UBCM convention:
WHEREAS the Ministry of Education and Child Care is responsible for B.C.’s $10/day child care program, and ChildCareBC’s growing system of universal child care has been life-changing for families, with demand far outstripping supply;
AND WHEREAS the current grant-based process to expand universal child care relies on grant applicants to coordinate all aspects of design and implementation, and local and Indigenous governments and nonprofit organizations often lack the resources to successfully manage this process in accordance with UBCM-funded child care needs assessments and action plans:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that while the Province continues to rely on individual grant applicants to plan and develop child care expansion, that instead, the Province provide multi-year funding to local and Indigenous governments and nonprofit organizations to support resources to coordinate this process:
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that UBCM urge the Ministry of Education and Child Care to replace the current grant-based application process with a systematic expansion of universal child care that upholds UNDRIP obligations and supports the involvement of, but does not rely on, local and Indigenous governments and nonprofit organizations to coordinate design and implementation.
Council discussed the request and a motion to send a letter of support for the resolution CARRIED.
Boyce noted that she was distressed that the elevator at Esling Park Lodge is not functioning, and asked if there was anything the City could do to help; Teasdale noted that Esling Park Lodge is not a City facility, but a private business. Humpherys suggested that the problem was likely a difficulty in obtaining parts.
Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) report, by Mayor and RDKB Representative Andy Morel:
RDKB BOARD ACTIVITIES:
East End Services – May 9, 2023
• Staff Report – Jenn Penny, Manager, Victim Services – Workplan Update – new staff member approved for hire. Accredited support dog for August/Sept. 2023. Very busy with Court proceedings support. Some going back to 2017/2018. Backlogs related to Covid and court delays.
• Staff Report – Chief D. Derby – Kootenay Boundary Fire and Rescue Service – Workplan Update.
Service area review ongoing. Discussions with Provincial authorities to establish service area within community and area residential boundaries. Plan to not include Crown lands in service area. First Responder medical calls way up for first ¼ of 2023 – 60% higher than 2022. Mostly related to overdose and homelessness issues. Efforts to attract and retain new paid-on-call, volunteer Firefighters continuing with open houses in all partner communities.
• Staff Report – James Chandler, Deputy CAO/Operations Manager, Re: Public Transit Resources.
Trail bus exchange planning continues with BC Transit, RDKB and City of Trail. Public washroom to be included in design. Future BC Transit operational Centre planning continuing to find new location in Lower Columbia area. Options to be considered later in 2023. New bus shelter improvements moving forward. Confirming new locations for shelters in Rossland and partner communities. Working with Rossland staff on this initiative.
• Green Link Trail update – Mayor, Steve Morrisette, Fruitvale reporting. Consultants now meeting with lower Columbia communities’ staff and representatives to discuss trail links.
• Economic Development Plan Discussion – Staff and Directors discussing a Lower Columbia Agricultural Strategy. East End Services is contributing $17K, with $13K from Trail towards new Farmers Market Manager. Newly hired Manager on the job supporting both Trail and Fruitvale markets presently. Hopefully, a Rossland market will evolve and support will be available with this new position as well.
East End Curbside Working Group Meeting – May 9, 2023
• Staff Report – Janine Dougal, Manager, Environmental Services reporting on Curbside OrganicsProgram rollout. Curbside bin procurement coming together. Bins ordered previously. Rossland bin allocations – 1574 critter resistant 80L bins, 242 bear resistant 120L bins allocated for our community. Bear bin upgrades will be $200./resident for those that request upgrade. Rossland outreach to identify bear problem specific neighbourhoods to be completed.
For more information on curbside program – jointheconversation.rdkb.com – projects – New Green BinProgram – RDKB Kootenay Region.
• Staff Report – Jodie Brunatti, Environmental Services Staff member reporting on McKelvey Creek Landfill Upgrade – project progressing well, new building in place, new scales delivered.Likely closure for paving project required. Information to follow.
Utilities Meeting – May 10, 2023
• Staff Report – Goran D., Manager of Operations, Environmental Services
Workplan Updates: East End Sewer – New Asset Management Consultant Contract Process search extension into June for quotes.
• Purchase of new Ford Lightning truck proceeding with AM Ford. Trial project supported by CBT grant of $75K.
• Reported that CPCC, (Sewage Treatment Plant), Waneta exceeded capacity for 4 days after substantial May rain event. As required, reported to BC Ministry of Environment. Importance of completing I&I investigations and mitigation to reduce inflow and infiltration of stormwater into sanitary systems.
• Staff report – Flow Monitoring report provided for January and February. Rossland’s contribution – 17% towards overall flow. Shared with Warfield and Trail.
Board Meeting – May 10, 2023
• Staff Report – Barb Ihlen, CFO presenting the 2022 audited financial statements. These will beincluded in 2022 RDKB Year End Report.
• Staff Report – Anitra Winje, CO reporting on new more generic Land acknowledgement supporting changes to existing acknowledgment, reflecting large Regional jurisdiction area and varied historical use by various Indigenous groups.
• Board supported the sponsorship towards the upcoming Keeping it Rural Conference in Kelowna.
Policy and Personnel Committee – May 31, 2023
• Staff Report – Freya Phillips, Climate Action Specialist, RDKB reporting on Fleet Vehicle Policy Review. Shifting to zero emission vehicles – six electric vehicles currently with first electric pickup on order for pilot within environmental services and other departments to utilize and experiment with. Heavy trucks to be considered in future. Lots of options expected in next few years.
Board Meeting – May 31, 2023
• Delegation: Betty Ann Marino, CBT Representative Director for RDKB providing CBTrust update. Board and staff are very busy with community engagement and strategic planning sessions throughout the Columbia Basin. Upcoming Symposiums (3) including one in Trail, providing residents the opportunity to engage in more strategic planning development to help CBT Board. Looking forward to attending, making connections, providing and hearing ideas to support the Columbia Basin region.
• Delegation: Okanagan Nation Alliance presenting an update on Columbia River and tributaries fisheries projects including unique portable salmon incubator. Pacific salmon being introduced into the upper Columbia River system/ Canadian side of the border now.
• Staff Report – Janine Dougal, Manager of Environmental Services providing a Board update on rollout of Lower Columbia Curbside Organics Program bin distribution plans August and Sept. for program startup Oct.
END of RDKB Report
The Council meeting recessed to an in camera session, and your reporter wandered home, detouring to buy some chocolate on the way, feeling sorrow for the vast swaths of forest burning elsewhere in Canada now, and being grateful for the current cool and wonderfully wet weather here – and the lack of local wildfires.