COUNCIL MATTERS: Rossland City Council Meetings, February 5, 2024
Rossland’s DRAFT Financial Plan –Taxes and City spending explored at the Committee-of-the-Whole meeting; the Short-Term Rental issue resolved for the time being, and subject to future revision; Al Fisher has left us; the Mayor’s RDKB report will be published later, separately; a few notes on the TRP – Trail Recreation Program; and more …
Present: Mayor Andy Morel and Councillors Lisa Kwiatkowski, Stuart Spooner, Jeff Weaver, Craig Humpherys, and Eliza Boyce. Absent: Maya Provençal. Staff (to the best of your reporter’s ability to determine while attending remotely – not all staff were visible on the screen; my apologies for any errors): CAO BryanTeasdale, Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Anonuevo, Executive Assistant Rachel Newton, Chief Financial Officer Mike Kennedy, Accounting Clerk Justin Brogan, Manager of Operations Scott Lamont, Manager of Recreation & Events Kristi Calder, and City Planner Stacey Lightbourne.
1. Committee-of-the-Whole – 4:00 pm
Chief Financial Officer Mike Kennedy and Accounting Clerk Justin Brogan presented the City’s DRAFT 2024 – 2028 Financial Plan for review by Council, and by interested members of the public who cared to attend.
The presentation was designed to be understandable by not only non-accounting wizard Council members but also the general public. For those inclined to question or challenge the City’s spending, this presentation can answer questions and provide a sound basis for more informed questions. To review it, click the link below:
The document provides an overview of the City’s many responsibilities and the costs of fulfilling them. There is also a sampling of a few other municipalities’ tax increases for the year, compared with Rossland’s. Note: The startling tax increase shown for Osoyoos is currently under review, following a bit of a citizen revolt; but for those wondering what led the Osoyoos council to consider such a drastic increase, think in terms of infrastructure deficit – too many years of failing to maintain and replace critical infrastructure (water and sewer systems, among other things) and failing to charge enough tax to cover the expenses or build any reserves to cover them when things begin seriously falling apart.
The DRAFT Financial Plan shows that Rossland’s City Staff and Council are looking well into the future to ensure, as best they can, that Rosslanders will be well served, and also spared the sort of financial shock residents of Osoyoos are now feeling. Kennedy noted, “When you freeze taxes, it bites you later on.”
2. Regular Council Meeting – 6:00 pm
PUBLIC INPUT PERIOD:
Shawn Gresley-Jones spoke, objecting to restriction of Short-Term Rentals (STRs), and excoriating Morel in harsh terms.
A member of the Save Record Ridge Committee spoke, urging Council (and others) to ask government to designate the West High Yield (WHY) mine proposal for Record Ridge as subject to environmental assessment.
Brenda Hooper of the Greater Trail Hospice Society thanked Council for their work on the TRP, and challenged council members and others to participate in the “Swim-a-thon” on March 7.
A resident spoke to thank Council for agreeing to “grandfather” existing STRs, but also urged Council to follow only the Provincial regulations and go no further.
Owen Williams spoke, agreeing that Rossland should just follow the Provincial STR guidelines with no further restriction, and said he thinks long-term rental landlords need incentives.
Anthony Bell spoke about the Rossland Forest Park. It began with a donation of a parcel of his property, and the City also donated an adjoining parcel – but it turned out that the parcel was not actually owned by the City, but Teck. Bell urged the City to donate a different parcel in that area to replace the non-donation.
Encroachment Bylaw # 2829:
A motion to adopt the bylaw, discussed at previous meetings, CARRIED, with Boyce opposed. The bylaw makes homeowners who have placed landscaping, trees, or other items on City property – such as boulevards, road allowances, etc. — responsible for the cost of removal. Such encroachments have, in the past, caused additional cost and delay to the City when workers need to access underlying infrastructure.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2828 – Short-Term Rental Regulations:
A motion to give the bylaw second reading as amended, and to hold a Public Hearing on March 11, 2024, CARRIED after lengthy discussion, with Humpherys opposed. The amendments clarified the “grandfathering” of current STRs.
Discussion: Weaver pointed out the Council had a two-hour Committee-of-the-Whole meeting – open to the public — on the topic of STRs, and hardly any members of the public showed up to speak during the Public Input Period or hear the discussion. He objected to assumptions that Council has not done its homework or done the necessary research, and said, “Surveys do not always equate to good policy.”
He went though and refuted each argument that Council has heard in opposition to its proposed changes to STR regulation. In response to the sentiment that homeowners should be able to “do whatever they want” with their homes, he pointed out a few of the many other municipal regulations that govern and restrict what people can do with their property. He pointed out that Kelowna is also going further to restrict STRs than the Provincial regulations. He pointed out, in response to the suggestion that the City should just “let the market decide,” that “the market is doing a terrible job.” He also noted that the bylaw under discussion “is not a forever decision” – there will be a Housing Needs Assessment and it will be considered in reviewing the STR situation after it is completed. He also referred to the Official Community Plan, which, he pointed out, is a reflection of our community’s values.
Boyce said that she thinks Council has “settled on a good starting point,” and that she looks forward to seeing the Housing Needs Assessment.
Morel reminded Council members to address Council, not the gallery; a voice from the gallery asked, “when can we have a back and forth discussion?” Morel responded that there will be a public hearing on March 11, and Spooner noted that Council meetings are not set up for back-and-forth discussion with members of the public. He also said he is always willing to discuss matters with anyone who want to talk with him.
Humpherys said he would prefer to just follow the Provincial guidelines, but would like “comprehensive data collection” and an assessment of how are regulations are working He said the Provincial government has a program called “Home Suite Home” to assist homeowners interested in adding secondary suites.
Kwiatkowski said the OCP is clear, and “there is no perfect solution” – this is not a forever answer. She looks forward to seeing the Housing Needs Assessment.
DEVELOPMENT VARIANCE PERMIT APPLICATION – 2160 Washington Street:
The owner seeks a variance for this narrow lot to accommodate 24” eaves on a proposed carport and workshop. A motion to approve the variance CARRIED.
LEASE RENEWAL — SCOUT HALL:
A motion to approve the five-year renewal lease agreement with Scout Properties (BC Yukon) for the lands described as “Lot A District Lot 691 Kootenay District Plan NEP22902 (aka: ‘The Scouts Hall’ at 2551 St. Paul Street, Rossland) commencing January 1, 2024, CARRIED. Queries clarified that the Scouts own the building, and the lease is just for the City property it occupies.
ROSSLAND MUSEUM RENEWAL PROJECT: PHASE II
A motion to approve the Updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Agreement between the City of Rossland and the Rossland Historical Museum Association for Phase 2: Mine Experience of the Rossland Museum Renewal Project CARRIED, after discussion.
Spooner was concerned that the project might not provide adequate ‘return on invesetment” and coild have (unspecified) downsides. Teasdale responded that the City has delegated management of the Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre to the Museum, and that the project was approved by Council a few terms ago.
Historic note by your reporter: The Rossland Museum website includes a line about the former mine tour, through a section of actual old mine tunnel. “Underground mine tours through the Black Bear Adit were offered from 1967 until 2009, when they were closed due to long-term safety concerns.”
A 2010 Rossland Telegraph article explains the circumstances that triggered the closure, and the large financial impact it had on the Museum: “… the museum is now in a tough spot of having to make a go of it without their top attraction. Typically, the mine tours contribute 75 to 80% of the museum’s visitors and subsequent revenue.”
For Information Only — ROSSLAND-TRAIL RECREATION AGREEMENT:
The 2024 Rossland-Trail TRP Agreement is a one-year arrangement for $100,000. Staff will be reviewing data to ensure the City has adequate information to consider whether or not a longer-term agreement may be justified.
Some numbers to consider: money spent by Rosslanders to use the facility and buy passes has increased by 208% since the new rates came into effect.
SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING REQUESTS:
A motion to make provisons in the 2024 to 2028 Five Year Financial Plan for the following scholarship amounts: the JL Crowe Health Awareness Award of $500, the JL Crowe Rossland Award $750, and Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre Scholarship of $500, and the Seven Summits Centre for Learning Scholarship of $500, CARRIED.
Spooner had attended the inaugural meeting of the Recreation Master Plan Implementation Select Committee and was favourably impressed my the volunteers. He will also be attending the Record Ridge Mine Review meeting this month.
Kwiatkowski has been busy with the planning group for the 2026 BC Winter Games, to be co-hosted by Rossland and Trail.
Morel sadly noted the recent death of well-known Rosslander Al Fisher, a noted athlete. See his obituary here.
Morel also explained Councillor Maya Provençal’s absence from this meeting – she gave birth to a baby girl on Friday.
Morel then proposed that the City send a letter asking the Province to ensure that the proposed West High Yield mining operation on Record Ridge – the “RRIMM” — must undergo an Environmental Assessment.
Kwiatkowski asked for clarification on the RRIMM; Spooner explained some of the history. Currently one of the questions is whether or not the proposed operation legitimately qualifies as an “Industrial Mineral Mine” which could exempt it from environmental review.
Mayor Morel’s RDKB report was in the Council package, but not in a form that could be replicated here without your reporter re-typing every word of it. I will publish it separately when I have been able to obtain a publishable copy. Watch for it.
RELEASE OF DECLASSIFIED IN-CAMERA MATTERS:
a) Draft 2024 Trail Resident Program (TRP) Agreement between The City of Rossland and the City of Trail:
THAT Council declassifies the following resolution from January 8, 2024 In-Camera Meeting of Council regarding the Trail Resident Program Agreement:
“THAT Council approve, in principle, a one-year Trail Resident Program Agreement (2024) with the City of Trail in the amount if $100,000 and that the Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) be authorized to execute a final agreement”.
b) Recreation Master Plan Implementation Committee Appointments
THAT Council declassifies the following resolutions from January 8, 2024 In-Camera Meeting of Council regarding appointments to the City of Rossland Recreation Master Plan Implementation Committee:
“THAT Council appoints the following members of Council to the Recreation Master Plan Implementation Select Committee: Councillor Spooner Councillor Humpherys.” AND, “THAT Council appoints the following as members to the City of Rossland Recreation Master Plan Implementation Committee: Rory Belter Frank Conradie Robert Duffield Eva Gifford Caley Mairin Mulholland Lana Jamieson Kathleen Pistak.”
The meeting adjourned, and your reporter briefly contemplated the 2026 BC Winter Games, wondering whether the organizing committee will be able to substitute other suitable games in the event that we lack adequate winter conditions that year. After all, it’s two years away, climate change just keeps amazing people, and who knows what meteorological surprises may be in store for us then?
Fingers crossed for good snow and lots of it. Every winter!