COUNCIL MATTERS: Rossland City Council Meetings, November 20, 2023
Grappling with Short Term Rentals; Water Rates and Sewer Rates rising (like nearly everything else); how Rossland Yards affordable housing will be managed; a bylaw the City needs to pass every year but hasn’t used since 1999; Arts Centre Society progress; events at RED coming up in March …
PRESENT: Mayor Andy Morel, and Councillors Maya Provençal (by Zoom), Craig Humpherys, Lisa Kwiatkowski, Jeff Weaver, and Stewart Spooner. Absent: Eliza Boyce.
Staff: CAO Bryan Teasdale, Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Añonuevo, CFO Mike Kennedy, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne, Manager of Operations and Infrastructure Scott Lamont, Manager of Recreation and Events Kristi Calder, and Executive Assistant Rachel Newton.
- PUBLIC HEARING
Zoning amendment bylaw # 2820: 1167 Black Bear Drive
The owner would like to rezone from R1 Residential to R1I Residential Infill, and to subdivide the 150-foot wide lot into two 60-foot wide residential lots and one 30-foot wide infill lot. The City had not received any written submissions in advance, but the public gallery was well populated and several people spoke to express opposition to the proposed rezoning and subdivision, and to request that the application be denied.
Opposition was based on the limited off-street parking (the applicant parks on the road), the fact that the block is a dead-end street with only a small turn-around area at the end, anticipated difficulties because of snow storage and limited sight-lines around snow-piles, and that putting three lots and houses where there is now one home will negatively alter the character of the neighbourhood. One person acknowledged that although increasing density has some advantages, she thought that was less true in an outlying neighbourhood like Black Bear, where people chose to live because it had a feeling of space. People also objected to adding more vehicular traffic to the block, pointing out that there were eight homes there now, and 16 vehicles; they expected that adding two new lots would result in four more vehicles — a 25% increase.
- REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
PUBLIC INPUT PERIOD:
Two residents spoke about the problem of the TRP charges for participants in the Stingrays swim club; one mentioned that although the TRP charges are increasing, funding support from the City has declined.
Another resident spoke on the topic of short-term rentals and their effect on the housing market; she said that she doesn’t think that low-income and disabled people should be driven from home and community because a municipality prioritizes protecting homeowners’ investments over housing needs.
Sarah Taekema-Slot (Board Member) explained the 2023 activities and progress of the Arts Centre Society in turning the old Drill Hall into a community arts centre. The group is working on grant applications and is considering hiring a part-time grant writer, just for 2024; they are also working on board recruitment, their renovation plan, and terms of reference.
SHORT TERM RENTAL RECOMMENDATIONS from the CoW:
Council discussed the topic and recommendations from the CoW meeting on November 6. Weaver started the discussion off with a strong statement in favour of a more restrictive approach to short-term rentals (STRs) in the part of Rossland referred to as “old town” – similar to Fernie’s regulation of STRs. He wants to encourage long term rentals and affordability. He is very concerned about current housing issues, and thinks that an overly permissive approach to STRs will make things worse. Weaver pointed out that our Official Community Plan (OCP) encourages “a diverse mix” in our demographic, and “the OCP is the best guidance document we have.” He stated that there is no shortage of STR accommodation in Rossland.
Provençal said that she agrees with Weaver, and does not favour allowing STRs in secondary suites.
Humphrys disagreed with Weaver and Provençal; he would be happy to “grandfather” whatever STRs there are now.
Spooner declared that he is concerned about affordability, but does not think that STRs are “driving the problem.” He sees no advantage in restricting STRs; he seemed more concerned that homeowners be able to earn income from STRs.
Kwiatkowski said that she wanted to make sure they were answering the right question, and she felt that the OCP answers the right question by making it clear that protecting long-term housing options is a high priority.
Morel said that when Council began considering the topic, he thought it would be better to be more permissive in regulating STRs, but since then he has spoken with people in other communities, such as Tofino, and was cautioned by their experiences; he noted that it is much easier to relax strict regulations than to “claw back” from a permissive system.
Provençal agrees that STRs did not cause the housing crunch, but stated that they can make it worse. She said that a more permissive approach to STRs will change the character of the community, and would likely cause some residents to lose their housing, and that allowing STRs in secondary suites would add further to the inflation of property values.
Humpherys said he does not think that a more permissive approach to STRs will make housing less affordable, or affect the availability of long term rentals.
Weaver pointed out that once a City makes a policy or set of rules, people will make investment decisions based on it. He said he didn’t accept that the Residential Tenancy Act is a good excuse for limiting long term rentals; he said landlords must do their due diligence, require references and check the references.
Weaver then moved that Rossland move forward with STR regulations similar to Fernie’s, and the motion CARRIED.
[in Fernie, STRs are permitted in commercial properties zoned for STRs, and in a room or rooms in your primary residence, and an apartment, or house that is your primary residence.
Fernie does not allow STRs in secondary suites (including basement suites), attached and detached garage suites, garden suites, or secondary homes.]
(There was some discussion of “grandfathering” current uses that would be non-compliant, and fairness, but because neither the sound system nor your reporter — attending remotely — is perfect, any further motions were not captured, and City staff have been too busy to respond to my email query in time to be published. However, it will all become clear when the subject comes before Council again.)
Lightbourne commented that anyone can apply for commercial zoning, which allows STRs. She also pointed out, “This isn’t the end of the discussion.” She will draft bylaws, and Council will discuss them in upcoming Council meetings.
Solid and Yard Waste Regulation Bylaw # 2817:
Motions to give the bylaw second and third readings CARRIED. This is the bylaw that sets out the rules for the collection of household garbage, organics, and yard and garden waste, including the size and location of garbage containers, the amount and nature of solid or yard waste to be put out for pick-up, This bylaw previously set the rates (Bylaw No. 2730 and attached) and disposal fees for these services, but with the transition to a regional residential solid waste collection, setting the collection rates through this bylaw is unnecessary.
Building Amendment Bylaw # 2819:
A motion to adopt the bylaw CARRIED.
Sewer Rate (2024-2025) Bylaw # 2821:
Motions to give the bylaw second and third readings CARRIED. The Council materials explained, “A review of the budget implications discussed above as part of a Q2 2023 refresh of the City’s Asset Management Investment Plan indicates that the City should increase both the Municipal Sewer Charge and Regional Sewer Charge by 10% in each of the next two years.”
Water Rate (2024-2025) Bylaw # 2822:
Motions to give the bylaw second and third readings CARRIED. The bylaw incorporates the staff recommendation for a 10% increase in both 2024 and 2025 to parcel taxes and water base and consumption fees, including doubling unmetered flat fees in 2024.
Heritage Commission Bylaw Amendment # 2823:
A motion to adopt the bylaw CARRIED, finalizing Council’s decision to remove the requirement for a Council liaison appointment.
2023-2027 Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw # 2824:
Motions to give the bylaw first, second and third readings CARRIED. Staff explained the need for this bylaw in the Council materials: “Under Section 173(b) of the Community Charter, Council has an obligation to “as soon as it is practicable, amend the financial plan to include the expenditure and the funding source for the expenditure that was not included in the original bylaw”.” This is normally done before the end of the year.
2024 Annual Revenue Anticipation Bylaw # 2825:
Motions to give the bylaw first, second and third readings CARRIED. Staff materials explained that, although the City has not had to use this borrowing authority since 1999, “Section 177 of the Community Charter authorizes Council to borrow funds as may be necessary to meet the current expenditures of the City until such time as the annual property tax revenue is collected. The City’s financial institution requires this bylaw to fulfill the requirements of our overdraft clause in the banking agreement between the city and the financial institution.”
Housing Agreement Bylaws # 2826 and # 2827 – Rossland Yards:
Motions to give first, second and third readings to each bylaw CARRIED
The Agreement sets out the division of the Rossland Yards building into three strata lots, comprising the ground floor (occupied and managed by the City), and the second and third floors, comprising two sets of “affordable housing” (as defined in the Agreement), and divided into Strata Lot 2, containing 22 units of affordable housing leased and managed by the Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society (LCAHS), and Strata Lot 3, with 15 units of affordable housing, leased by BC Housing and managed by LCAHS under an operating agreement.
Outdoor Special Event Policy (new):
A motion to approve the policy, designed to coordinate and manage the impacts outdoor community events have on the natural environment, users, City operations and City facilities, CARRIED.
The policy sets out the locations and types of gatherings that will require an outdoor special event application, and the rules that will apply to them. The nine-page policy, and the seven-page application form, and a two-page “Prime Contractor Agreement” that will be required in specified cases, are included in the Council materials for this meeting.
Energy Efficient Building Incentive Policy (amended):
Council discussed the updated bylaw, and a motion to approve it as amended CARRIED.
Video Surveillance Policy (amended):
A motion to approve the amended policy CARRIED. The Council materials explained that the policy “seeks to strike a balance between an individual’s right to be free from invasion of privacy and the City’s duty to promote a safe environment which protects the security of its staff members, citizens, municipal resources, properties and assets, all in line with the evolving requirements under the Province of British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.”
Utility Water Leak Adjustment Policy (amended):
The purpose of this policy is to encourage residents to have water leaks repaired soon after they are discovered. The Council materials explain (in part), “Property owners can apply for a leak adjustment credit for excess water volume charges resulting from a leak. To be eligible for a leak adjustment the owner must have repaired the leak in a reasonable time from the discovery of the leak and provide proof of the leak repair (receipts for any materials or services related to that repair). The application form must be completed and returned to City Hall with the necessary receipts.” The full policy provides more details.
A motion to approve the amended policy CARRIED.
Holiday Gift Certificates for City Employees (amended):
A motion to approve the policy as amended CARRIED. The sole amendment was to replace the term “Christmas” with the term “holiday” to help ensure inclusion and respect for all.
Employee Service & Innovation Rewards:
A motion to reconfirm this policy CARRIED. The policy authorizes rewards for employees “who develop innovations to equipment, systems and procedures which reduce the City’s operating costs or render the City’s operations more efficient.”
Emergency Operations Centre Activation Wage Reimbursement:
Rossland is part of the RDKB Regional Emergency Preparedness Service. When City employees are called upon to help staff the Emergency Operations Centre, this policy ensures that they are remunerated appropriately. A motion to reconfirm the policy CARRIED.
Council Committee System:
A motion to reconfirm the existing policy CARRIED.
DEVELOPMENT PERMIT APPLICATION — 4240 Red Mountain Road
The applicant seeks a permit to build “The Daly”, a proposed six storey, 94 unit residential project with mixed-use guest amenity and commercial space, to be located in an area currently used for ski hill parking.
A motion to issue the requested development permit, subject to eight detailed conditions dealing with the size and appearance of the completed project, and environmental and FireSmart requirements, CARRIED.
TOURISM ROSSLAND SERVICE AGREEMENT:
The proposed agreement updates the respective roles of the City and Tourism Rossland, and consolidates their agreements into one document – previously, there were two. Staff provided three pages of information on the background and current state of the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) and funding, for Council’s information. Rossland currently pays Tourism Rossland $20,500 annually; this will be reviewed in 2024. A motion to approve the Tourism Rossland 2023-2026 Service Agreement as presented CARRIED, as did a motion to rescind the outdated 2015 agreement.
Council discussed briefly the different potential uses of the funding, and the role of the Council member on the Tourism Rossland board – a stakeholder, but a non-voting one.
Council reviewed the standard list of reports, on:
- Building Permits
- Building Permit Inspections by type
- Step Code Energy Rebates
- Monthly Public Works Report and Water Production for October
- Eye on Water (the FREE app that helps people track their water use and find leaks)
- Bylaw Compliance
RED MOUNTAIN RACERS REQUESTS:
At the previous Council, Red Mountain Racers had presented their plans for hosting the Canadian National Alpine Championships, the BC Cup Spring Series and the U14 Provincial Championships in March, 2024. They had requested some assistance from the City, and at this meeting, a motion to approve those requests, as follows, CARRIED:
- Closure of Washington Street between Second Ave. and Columbia Ave. from 5:00 to 6:30pm on Monday, March 18th for Canadian National Alpine Championship events;
- Use of Harry Le Fevre square from 5:00 to 8:00pm on Monday, March 18th for Canadian National Championship events;
- Hanging of ski racing banners in downtown Rossland throughout the winter of 2023/2024;
- Waiving the fees for use the Rossland Event Sign from March 4th to 31st to promote Canadian National Alpine Championship events;
- Provide a letter of support to the Red Mountain Racers to be used in grant applications.
Morel made a brief oral report on the Regional District of Kootenay-Bounday. There had not been much uptake on the more bear-resistant trash bins at $200 each; the board held an asset-management workshop, and is considering hiring a full-time position in support of asset management. Linda Worley was acclaimed Chair of the board, and Ali Grieve contested and won the Vice-chair role.
Spooner reported that he received an invitation to attend an on-line meeting of the Record Ridge Mine Committee on December 6.
ADJOURNMENT: The meeting adjourned , and your reporter – who had observed the meeting by Zoom or some other equivalent service, being temporarily mobility-challenged – felt very grateful for the technology enabling such convenience. And wished that all our advanced electronic technology could be used for such harmless and helpful purposes, rather than skullduggery like long-distance warfare, or even short-distance warfare.