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COUNCIL MATTERS: October 19, 2020, Rossland City Council Meeting

Photo of Miners Union Hall from the City of Rossland

Electrifying chicken coops; Renewable energy; more RED parking for passholders  

Present:  Mayor Kathy Moore and Councillors Janice Nightingale, Andy Morel, Stewart Spooner, Chris Bowman and Dirk Lewis.  Staff: CAO Bryan Teasdale, CFO Elma Hamming, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne, Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Año Nuevo, Manager of Public Works Scott Lamont and Manager of Recreation and Events Kristi Calder.

During the adoption of minutes, including the minutes of the Sustainability Commission (SC), Council approved the SC’s motion to “give the City up to $6000 toward a secure, sheltered, year-round bike rack in a central location that is maintained by the City,” and a further motion to “purchase a vacuum sealer and a second dehydrator for the food sustainability tool library, to a maximum of $700.” 

Public Input period:

           Bill Profili spoke to support the updated agreement with the Lions campground.  When asked, he said this year was the worst in 30 years – they couldn’t open the tent sites, because they couldn’t maintain the washrooms to COVID-19 standards; guests at the campground had to be “self-contained.”

         Levon Bye had submitted a development variance application, seeking permission to use his carport roof as a deck – and enclosing it with suitable railings.  His application wasn’t recommended for approval, so he spoke to the reasons given for that in the materials; snow removal, and two complaints from neighbours about privacy and noise. Two other neighbours spoke in support of his application; they said they had no problem with his application, and they have found his many family visitors to be no problem.  They also commented that they, too, have had complaints about the fact that their house overlooks other neighbours’ homes and yards, but there’s nothing they can do about the topography. 

Delegation: 

Council Liaison Dirk Lewis presented the West Kootenay EcoSociety’s 100% Renewable Energy Plan for the West Kootenays.  The plan started with a rationale for going 100% renewable, and carried on to analyze the quantities of GHGs produced by different sectors, and  suggesting several steps that communities can take to lower greenhouse gas emissions by way of transportation, such as replacing fossil-fueled vehicles with electric ones; adding infrastructure that encourages more active transportation; reducing energy use in residential buildings.  Interested readers can check out this link:

https://westkootenayrenewableenergy.ca/  --  which can be followed to Rossland’s plan, at:  https://westkootenayrenewableenergy.ca/rossland/

There will be a public webinar on the Rossland plan in early November; see the links above for the date, and a link to register for it.

Bylaws:

“Urban Agriculture” -- AKA the chicken amendment: an electrifying discussion  

Staff presented an amended bylaw, based on opinions expressed at the October 5 Public Hearing.  The amendments included raising the number of chickens allowed from five to fifteen, eliminating the size specification for chicken coops and simply stating that they must comply with the requirements for accessory buildings, and requiring electric fencing around chicken enclosures.  Moore mentioned that the ”back” should be take out of the “backyard” modifier for chickens, and after some discussion it seems they will now be referred to as “residential” chickens.

Discussion:  Lewis didn’t like the requirement for electric fencing; he’d rather it be “recommended.”  Nightingale agreed. Morel pointed out that electric fencing is one of the best ways to deter bears from all attractions; he says it’s really the only way to keep bears out, and if Rossland wants to be serious about being responsible about bears and saving bears from being shot, electric fencing should be required.  Bowman agreed, citing WildSafe advice. The motion to remove the requirement for electric fencing FAILED with only Lewis and Nightingale in favour.

The amended bylaw was given second reading, with only Lewis opposed, and a Public Hearing scheduled for November 16.

A motion to create a helpful hand-out for chicken owners CARRIED.

Council voted to adopt the Zoning Amendment for 2207 Columbia Avenue, returning it to residential zoning instead of commercial, and also the OCP amendment to enable this.

Council also gave third reading to the Climate Action Reserve Fund Bylaw, discussed at the previous meeting.

Policies:

Council approved an amendment to the Regional District Appointments Policy, to make the appointments in October instead of November, allowing more time to advise the RDKB of the decisions.

Council approved four other existing policies as presented: Council Information;  Ethics, Conduct and Conflict of Interest;  Donations – General, Park and Trail Donations;  Reserve and Surplus;  and the Tangible Capital Asset Policy.

Lions Campground:  Council unanimously approved an updated 5-year Operating Agreement.  Spooner asked whether the campground provides a service in line with community objectives in return for the benefits from the City. Teasdale pointed out that the agreement includes a liaison position, and reporting.

Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program  (CERIP):

Council voted unanimously in favour of resolutions to approve grant applications for two projects:  the Rossland to Redstone Wagon Road (Green Link) Improvement Project, with $20,000 to be allocated toward it from the Climate Reserve Fund; and the Downtown Rossland Public Washroom Project, with $81,319 to be allocated toward it from the Resort Municipality Initiative Program Reserve Fund. 

Council also approved letters of support for both applications, and one for the KCTS project for a trail from the biathlon range to Strawberry Pass, and a letter of support for the Red Mountain Racers for their Joint Race Structure Project with Red Mountain, and a further letter of support for the Rossland Museum’s CERIP grant application for funding toward completion of Phase Two of their Renewal Project.

Development Variance Permit Application for 1622 Esling Drive: A motion as recommended by staff to not approve the application CARRIED, with Moore and Morel opposed.  The problems with the application were the fact that if approved, it would be adding further to a structure that already encroaches significantly on City property; potential issues of snow removal; and complaints from two neighbours about privacy issues and noise, which they felt would be exacerbated by having the carport roof become a deck.

Temporary Use Permit – Red Mountain Resort

Council reviewed an application for a temporary use permit to allow the development of a parking lot just to the west of Phil Johnson’s gravel pit. The proposed parking area would be for passholders only, and is intended to relieve congestion at the existing parking areas – a particular concern during the pandemic.  A motion to approve the permit CARRIED unanimously, with no discussion of whether the parking lot will pose any risk of contaminating Topping Creek.

Council went on to review the usual reports—keeping its finger on the pulse of the City and its operations:

Q3 report on the City’s corporate Management Work Plan for 2020;  Building Permit Inspections;  Building Permit Report for September 2020;   Energy Rebates 2020;  Invoices Paid for Municipal Services;  Q3 Budget Update;  Public works Report for September 2020;  Water Production Report 2012 – 2020;   Bylaw Enforcement Report for September 2020;  and the Task List.

Council then unanimously approved a letter of support for an application by the Rossland Seniors Association for a grant from the federal “New Horizons for Seniors Program” for improvements to the Seniors Hall.

Members’ Reports – selected highlights:

Nightingale had attended the flu clinic at the Miners Hall; people were lined up, and the clinic was very well managed; the final ‘flu vaccination clinic for the season at the Miners Hall will be on November 15, from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm.

Lewis explained that people holding Rossland Public Library cards can check out a family pass to the Rossland Museum; the pass is good for one week.

Moore oversaw Council’s appointment for the next year of Morel as Rossland’s representative to the RDKB and Nightingale as alternate; and Nightingale for the Hospital Board, with Morel as the alternate.

Moore also proposed a motion that Council direct staff to “establish a new Economic Development Task  Force under the Sustainability Commission, with a budget of $2,500 for 2021.”  She pointed out that the SC had originally had such a task force, and it focused on attracting “nomadic entrepreneurs” to Rossland – people who could work remotely from here for businesses located elsewhere, or in their own businesses, but the group disbanded.  Now, with COVID-19, that focus has renewed value.  Nightingale suggested that the SC should be able to carry over funds from one year to the next; but this can be addressed in the bylaw at another time. After some discussion of the need for a budget, the motion CARRIED unanimously.

The meeting adjourned at 7:37 pm, and your reporter kept her mask on for the whole dark and misty walk home – it was warmer that way.