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COUNCIL MATTERS: January 18, 2021

Council discusses messaging and a letter to government regarding pandemic measures and the meaning of “local;” plus a whack of regular business.

1.        Public Hearing, 6:00 pm

Present:  Mayor Kathy Moore and Councillors Andy Morel, Janice Nightingale, Terry Miller, Chris Bowman, Stewart Spooner, and Dirk Lewis

Staff:  CAO Bryan Teasdale, and others not distinguishable on the screen;  City Planner Stacey Lightbourne spoke during the meeting, as did Recreation and Events Manager Kristi Calder.

The purpose of the Public Hearing is to consider the following: Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 2745, 2020 – 1715 ThirdAvenue,

To rezone 1715 Third Avenue from R1-I Residential Infill to R1– I Residential Infill– Guest Suite (R1I- GS), to allow the applicant  to rent out a one bedroom self-contained suite with a private driveway for short term rental accommodation.

No one spoke, and Mayor Moore opened the regular Council meeting.

2.     Regular Council Meeting, immediately following the Public Hearing

Public Input Period:

Dr. Tara Gill spoke to support Councillor Lewis’s motion (later in the agenda) seeking to limit unnecessary travel during the pandemic.

BYLAWS:

a)       Zoning Amendment Bylaw 2745 (1715 Third Avenue)

A  motion that  Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 2745 be read for a third time CARRIED, and a further motion that it be adopted also CARRIED.  (The full complement of councillors was not visible, so your reporter could not tell whether the approval was unanimous – though it probably was.)

 Policy Review:

A motion to approve the Employee Service and Innovation Reward Policy HR-4 as presented CARRIED, though Lewis expressed a feeling that City staff should want to do this sort of thing without such reward.   No councillors or staff could recall, off-hand, when a staff member’s suggestion had saved the City a significant amount of money.

Short Term Rental Accommodations (AD-23):  A motion to approve the Short Term Rental Policy (AD-23) as amended CARRIED.  Spooner said he doesn’t like the policy, and would like to see a full review, possibly after the OCP project, when the values of the community have been expressed.

A motion to approve the Rossland Recreation Instructor Payment Policy (AD-17) as amended CARRIED. 

A motion to approve the Recreation Bursary Allocation Policy (AD-17) as amended to double the amount awarded CARRIED.

Staff Updates and Reports:

a)       COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream (CVRIS) Grant – Green Link Trail:  A motion to  approve an application to the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream (CVRIS) grant program for the ROSSLAND TO REDSTONE WAGON RD (GREEN LINK) IMPROVEMENT project with $10,000 to be allocated to the project from the Climate Reserve Fund, CARRIED. 

b)      Rossland Senior Housing Society Loan Demand Extension for 60 days:  Council discussed a motion to  approve postponing the demand loan of $270,000 for 60 days on the Rossland’s Seniors Housing Society Mortgage of Lease from January 1st, 2019 to February 1st, 2021 to accommodate BC Housing’s timeline to review financials and potentially add the amount due as is there option as first mortgage holder.  Nightingale had wanted interest payments to continue, but Hamming said that would constitute a new agreement, and would obviate the need for BC Housing to take over the mortgage.  The  original motion CARRIED.

c)       Invoices Paid for Municipal Services December 2020: a motion to  approve the December 2020 Cheque Register report CARRIED.

City Reports for Council Information:

1. Building Permit Report Dec. 2020

2. Building Permit Inspection by Type Report Dec. 2020

3. Step Code Energy Rebates Dec. 2020

4. Communication Statistics for 2020

5. Bylaw Enforcement Report Dec. 2020 

    (between 38 and 42 hours per month of bylaw enforcement)

6. Public Works Report Dec. 2020

7. Water Production Report Dec. 2020

    Usage lower than usual because of COVID – visitors and some seasonal residents are not here in the usual numbers.

8. Updated Task List

Member Reports:

Lewis:  Notice of Motion – Council discussed Lewis’s  motion on COVID-19 and Tourism, as follows:

“THAT Rossland City Council make the following formal appeals:

“1. THAT the City of Rossland request Local Tourism Operators to follow and recognize the current PHO orders and adopt a “locals only” policy.

“2. THAT a “locals only” message is displayed as a landing page for all online resources, including Tourism Rossland, and that the City of Rossland alter their messaging on community message boards to reflect the same.

“3. THAT items 1 and 2 be in effect until the PHO order to limit non-essential travel is rescinded.

“4. THAT the City of Rossland send a letter to our local MLA outlining our concerns (cc’d to Dr. Henry, Hon. Min. Adrian Dix, Hon. Min. Melanie Mark, and Hon. Min. Josie Osbourne) regarding lax enforcement on inter-provincial and inter-community travel.”

Morel spoke in favour of the motion, pointing out that people travelling for recreation in and around our community are not following the Public Health directives. 

Nightingale said that “we shouldn’t beat up on lour local businesses over the bad behaviour of a few people,” and that if we agree on limiting travel more, “we should talk to the Tourism organizations advocating for travel.”  

Miller said that transmission is happening more during parties in private homes, rather than in restaurants or the lift line.

Bowman said he’s seeing animosity toward out-of-town people. 

Spooner said that when people “flout regulations” it makes it harder to enforce those regulations. 

Lewis said he just wants the message discouraging unnecessary travel emphasized more. 

Moore noted that “local” has never been defined – is it our own town, our region, or our own province?  She would like that definition clarified.  Spooner agreed that he’d like more guidance on that, and Bowman said, “I’d love to see that.” 

Nightingale reiterated that there are also new residents in town, who have been living here for months.

 Lewis noted that he knows of three different groups of people who have travelled here to ski, from “the east.” 

Miller stated that he hesitates to “wade into this, because it feels like a minefield … and we have to be aware of unintended consequences.”  

Moore said she thinks it wouldn’t do any harm to support the Provincial Health Officer’s orders, and not to interfere with things like the webpages of local businesses. 

Spooner suggested changing the wording of the first bullet to say “recognize and promote the Public Health orders, recommendations and advisories.”  Lewis agreed with that friendly amendment. 

Spooner suggested that if any communication goes out to businesses, it should include recognition and appreciation for the businesses efforts to control the pandemic. 

Nightingale commented that she’s “completely behind item four” but that “bad actors are always going to be bad actors.” 

Spooner said he thinks it’s important that the City articulate its position on the issue,  and to encourage everyone to work together to keep being careful. 

Morel wants our message to be “a bit more bristly” and from what he’s heard, the community wants that.

The original motion was unanimously DEFEATED.

A motion including only item # 4 from the original motion, plus a request for a definition of “local,” and re-wording the item about inter-provincial and inter-community travel,  CARRIED.

A second motion that the City issue a press release to the community, supporting the Public Health Orders, advisories and recommendations, CARRIED.  Council will wordsmith the release.

Lewis also reported on the Sustainability Commission meeting he had attended, and  noted that there may be a “Sustainable Block” competition.

Moore reported on her many (remote) meetings.

Morel submitted a report on recent meetings of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), which forms the final two pages of the agenda package for this meeting, available on the City website.

Council adjourned the meeting, and your reporter went off to get the details on a City employee’s suggestion that resulted in big savings for the City, sometime around the year 2000 or thereabouts.

The  employee made his suggestion at the time the tunnel for the Centennial Trail was being installed under Highway 3-B;  the water main was already under the highway and had been laid many years before – the employee was aware that the water main had come with only a 40-year life expectancy and thought it would be wise to install another smaller culvert at the same time as the giant tunnel culvert, in case the water main ever failed.  The City did that, and some years later the water main did fail, and the culvert was used to slide the new water main through, which saved the City a very large amount of money. I don’t know who the thoughtful and far-sighted employee was, but all Rosslanders owe him thanks for his idea.