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Council Matters: Rossland City Council Meeting, June 7, 2021

Screenshot from a presentation to Council by the Economic Development Task Force

A new arts centre in the old Drill Hall?  Human trafficking and sexual exploitation; a sad farewell to CFO Elma Hamming, welcome CFO Michael Kennedy . . .

Public Hearing and regular Council Meeting

Council members were all present -- Mayor Kathy Moore and Councillors Dirk Lewis, Stewart Spooner, Andy Morel, Terry Miller, Janice Nightingale, and Chris Bowman.

Public Hearing:

Regarding a proposal to rezone the property at 1926 Kirkup Avenue from Residential to Residential Infill, which would allow the large lot to be subdivided.  No one spoke, and the City had received no other input.

Regular Council Meeting:

Public Input Period:

Eric Blair spoke about his unforeseen plumbing costs, incurred when a sudden leak occurred in this basement, mentioned at the previous Council meeting. He had not been expecting the full amount that was eventually billed for the weekend overtime callout to have the City  water valve shut off.  Manager of Operations and Infrastructure, Scott Lamont, reported on Staff efforts to improve communication to people calling for emergency assistance, especially after hours.  Blair explained that he doesn’t feel good about paying the bill. Spooner commented that it isn’t optional or negotiable.  Moore suggested that Council could discuss the issue later, but not during Public Input. 

Delegations:

1.       Cathy Peters, educator for the “Be Amazing” campaign, is seeking a letter of support from the City for her organization’s efforts to stop sex trafficking and sexual exploitation in BC. She presented statistics and explained what trafficking means, and told Council that “the target age” of 14 is dropping – to as young as eight years old; and that 50% of the children are Indigenous. She stated that it’s only a vey small percentage of prostitutes who do it voluntarily. She said that Canada is known as a child sex tourism destination. She requested a letter of support from the city; Moore explained that her request would be discussed by the next meeting.  

2.       Jim Firstbrook of the Economic Development Task force of Rossland’s Sustainability  Commission presented Council with information on results from the State of Business in  Rossland survey, and discussed proposed next steps.  Key issues identified were housing availability and affordability; lack of voice for businesses (though most don't belong to the Chamber of Commerce); talent attraction and retention (perhaps related to lack of housing); problems identified included onerous bylaws and regulations, but the contributors did not identify  which regulations and bylaws that they found problematic, and the Task Force has not figured that out -- yet.  Participation in the survey was limited, and Moore noted that the City is currently involved in reviewing the Official Community Plan and also has a challenge getting citizens to provide their views.

Bylaws:

A motion to adopt Zoning amendment bylaw # 2750 CARRIED unanimously; this removes the short-Term Rental zoning from the properties at 2414 LeRoi Avenue, and from three addresses  on Columbia Avenue:  1488, 1492, and 2236.

Council discussed a motion to give first and second readings to Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2760, for 1615 Nevada Street, to change the zoning from Residential to Residential Infill, to allow for future subdivision of the large lot, and to set a Public Hearing on the matter for July 12, 2021.  The motion CARRIED unanimously.

The next bylaw, # 2761, was to re-zone the property at 1508 Park Street to allow for short-term rental of a basement suite; a motion to give the bylaw first and second readings, and to set a Public Hearing for July 12, CARRIED unanimously, though Lewis raised concerns about parking on the street.

Staff Reports:

Subdivision Referral for Proposed Boundary Adjustment Application –Spokane Street (RDKB Jurisdiction):  A motion directing Staff to let the  Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure know that the City of Rossland has no concerns regarding the application for proposed boundary adjustment at 802 Spokane Street, to bring within the City of Rossland a portion of the property that is now in the RDKB,CARRIED unanimously.  The purpose of the adjustment is to ensure that the buildings on the property are all in the same jurisdiction.

A motion to approve a Development Permit for the Velvet Block at 2197 Columbia Avenue, to refurbish the building, CARRIED unanimously, subject to a set of conditions imposed by the City. The block will end up a muted blue instead of the current faded red. Miller  noted that there seems to be renewed interest in reviewing the Design Review guidelines.

An Arts Centre at the old Drill Hall?  The Rossland Arts Centre Society started up in 2018, hoping to provide an accessible and affordable space for artists to work and collaborate – of whom over a hundred live in Rossland.  The Society hopes to obtain permission to use the old Drill Hall, which now belongs to School District #20, but the process is likely to take several months.  A “Crown Land Tenure Application” is necessary, to obtain a Licence of Occupation  to use the building.  A motion to let the Province know that the City has no objection to the application CARRIED unanimously.

A further motion to initiate a zoning amendment, to include Leisure Facility use under P1 zoning in the City, also CARRIED unanimously after discussion.  Councillors expressed appreciation for the concept and admiration for the proponents’ work, patience and ambitions.  

Rossland Light Opera Players submitted a letter to Council, seeking a letter of support to use in future fundraising and grant applications.  A motion to provide the requested letter of support CARRIED unanimously.

A letter from MLA Katrina Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development explained the Province’s steps toward modernizing forest policy, and how long it will take – at least two years.  There will be a series of virtual town halls put on by the Province, and our City is invited to participate.  Spooner and Morel both volunteered to help with that.

Transitioning to a new Chief Financial Officer:

Moore said that “it is with great regret that we say good-bye to Elma, but we understand the lure of the Okanagan, and we welcome our new CFO, Michael Kennedy.  Thanks to Elma, our financial department is in good shape.”

She  noted that COVID vaccinations seem to be slowing down, and Interior Health people are having to reach out to overcome vaccine hesitancy.

She introduced the topic of Eric Blair’s complaint. Bowman suggested that the City might be faced with this situation “quite often.”  Scott Lamont said the Staff has updated the work order form.  Morel suggested that the charges that are likely to be required should be right on the work order. He would not support reducing the charges for Blair – that would be unfair to others who have paid the full amounts.  Miller suggested a little handout explaining the charges; Nightingale said that the work order is already pretty clear that the homeowner is responsible for the charges, and noted that the charges may vary for different cases. Morel commented that staff are already reviewing procedures to improve communications.    

RDKB Report:  Councillor Morel’s report on recent RDKB meetings appears below, in full.

The meeting adjournedby 7:30, and your reporter rushed outside to swaddle in crop-cover fabric a few tender plants in a small greenhouse in hopes that the cold night-time temperatures won’t stunt them, and noted sadly that flea beetles are scalloping all the pea-vine sprouts.

 

Report by Andy Morel:  RDKB COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES:

Utilities Committee – May 12, 2021 by Zoom

·      Staff Report – Goran D., Re: Grant Program Tracking – both Provincial and Federal programs.

·      Flow Meter Report – End of 2020 for Trail, Warfield and Rossland. Final 2020 flow rate averages – Rossland-18.98%, Trail- 69.3%, Warfield- 11.72%

·      Utilities Committee - Terms of References Review. Discussions with staff and Directors regarding service inclusions with the Committee. Seasoned Directors providing history of this committee to help sort through some issues within.

·      RDKB Watersmart Programs being supported in a number of communities including Beaver Valley, Christina Lake and Rivervale utilities this summer.

·      Staff Report – Goran D., Re: concerns regarding high BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) rates at Columbia Water Treatment Plant serving Rossland, Warfield and Trail. Staff are working to establish the source of the issue through isolating and testing individual municipal and industrial effluence. Hopefully, the problem will be isolated and rectified at source soon.

RDKB Board Meeting – May 12, 2021 by Zoom

Delegation: Andras Luckas, Tourism Rossland presented a summary of the value of the MRDT tax that supports tourism promotional activities in Rossland and beyond. Mr. Luckas  asked the RDKB for a letter of support for Tourism Rossland’s application for a five-year renewal of the Municipal and Regional District Tax. The 3% tax, which is added to the purchase of accommodation, raises revenue for local tourism marketing, programs and projects. It also boosts revenues and job opportunities. In 2019/2020, the tax brought $127,000 into Rossland. Letter of support approved.

·      Staff report: Emergency Services Manager, Mark Stephens presented an update on the Interior Health’s Covid 19 statistics. Noting that infections rates are dropping and vaccination rates are increasing across the Region. Low infection rates noted for Lower Columbia Region.

East End Services Committee Meeting – May 18, 2021 by Zoom

·      Delegation: Stewart Spooner, KCTS, attended the meeting to provide the Committee with a presentation of the December 2020 financial statements. Discussion ensued on the financial statement requirements.

·      From Rossland Council Discussions: Director Morel Re: Discussion on North/South Corridor Presentation.  Informed the Committee that the City of Rossland Council will be providing a letter of support to LCIC to continue pursuing a low level crossing at the Provincial level. He suggested that other municipalities and elected officials do the same. A fulsome discussion will be brought to the Board.

·      From Rossland Council Discussions: Director Morel Re: Discussion on LCIC and Chamber of Commerce Services. The Committee discussed the potential that the LCIC and Chamber of Commerce are providing duplicate services. Staff will send a letter to LCIC to request that they attend the next EES meeting and address these issues raised by the Committee.

·      Staff Reports: First Quarter Workplan Updates from numerous Department Managers. Rossland participant services include updates from: Victim Services, KBRFS (Regional Fire Service), Recreation Arts & Culture, EE Transit Services

Highlights include: Fire Service training for paid on call firefighters normalizing with Covid protocols, training ground development with $ and support being sought with regional partners, coordinating with City of Trail on substantial increase in emergency responses due to overdose calls. Arts and Culture – tender out for rigging project at Charles Bailey, elevator upgrades completed in Theatre as well. Transit Services- Funding sources being sought for Trail Transit Exchange upgrades. City of Trail working with BC Transit on design and costing. Expected construction in 2022.

·      Directors Grieve and Morrisette initiated discussion on concerns with local highway, (primary and secondary) repavement projects. Lack of communication and coordination in local projects = missed opportunities to promote and support active transportation corridors. A need to open communication channels to discussions with Ministry of Transportation Officials and Ministerial staff being sought.

·      Director Cacchioni Re: concerns with requests for financial report not being made available by staff. A solution being sought with Directors and staff.

RDKB Board Meeting – May 27, 2021 by Zoom

·      Presentation: MLA Russell provided an update on his role as Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development. Effectively, he serves as a concierge between rural BC and the Provincial government. Key rural issues are connectivity, health and agriculture. The MLA is supportive of having regular check-ins with the Kootenay Boundary elected officials. He also encouraged the Board to invite him to ministerial meetings at the UBCM convention. Board Directors brought local issues to the MLA’s attention, including: assisted living, the grant-based model of supporting rural communities, secondary housing in the Agricultural Land Reserve, support for substance users, active transportation, and old-growth logging.

·      Staff Report: B. Ihlen, CFO on a contentious Regional Board issue – allocation of hydro dam revenues within RDKB services. The staff presenting Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) policies from other regional districts and an initial recommendation regarding a policy for the RDKB, was presented. Discussion ensued regarding whether or not the RDKB requires a PILT policy. That the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary NOT develop a Payment In Lieu of Taxes policy but rather, follow the guidelines set out by the Provincial government. Passed

·      COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Operations: M. Stephens, Manager of Emergency Programs Manager Stephens reported that In Trail: 1 new case; test positive rate is 0%; the number of adults 18+ who have been vaccinated is 69%.

·      Appointments to Economic Trust of the Southern Interior (ETSI-BC) Regional Advisory Committee The Board approved Directors to the Economic Trust of the Southern Interior's Regional Advisory Committee for 2021-2023: 1. Director Grace McGregor 2. Director Linda Worley 3. Director Steve Morrisette.

·      Response from Interior Health Authority re: Integrated Treatment Teams The letter dated May 13, 2021 from Susan Brown, President and CEO of Interior Health, in response to the RDKB's query about supports for substance users in the Kootenay Boundary, was presented. Directors not pleased with response to our Regional concerns. Recommended a counter response be sent that the letter be copied to MLA Russell, MLA Conroy, the Regional District of Central Kootenay, the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District and the RDKB’s member municipalities.

·      Staff Report: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Twospirit People A. Winje, Manager of Corporate Administration/Corporate Officer, was presented.

Whereas you can help to raise awareness and show support by wearing red on May 5 and hanging a red dress in your window or yard leading up to May 5 (and for one week after) in honour and recognition of the thousands of Indigenous women, girls and two spirit people who have gone missing or been murdered; Now Therefore, the Board of Directors proclaims that henceforth, May 5th shall be observed as a day of awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-spirit people in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.

·      East End Services Committee - May 18, 2021 Director Morel Re: Support for a North/South Transportation Corridor was discussed. East end communities could benefit from an improved transportation system that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve safety. The lifespan of the Old Waneta Bridge was mentioned. The concept is dependent on a new highway being built south of the border. Referred to Education and Advocacy Committee for further consideration.

·      Staff Report: Work Plan Update: Solid Waste Services J. Dougall, General Manager of Environmental Services, re: McKelvey Creek upgrade project. Waiting for grant announcements.

·      Item for Release from Closed Meeting: That the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Board of Directors ratify a three-year Collective Agreement (January 1, 2020 - December 31, 2022) with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 941. Includes a 2.5% annual wage increase with ¼ % additional benefit increase for 2.75% total. Training officer continues to be continual position under letter of understanding – not permanent.

RDKB Report Prepared by: Councilor Andy Morel, RDKB Director - Rossland