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COUNCIL MATTERS: Rossland City Council meeting,October 4, 2021

Screenshot taken during October 4, 2021, Rossland City Council meeting

What to do about humans and bears; cost increases likely from the RDKB for Rossland’s Fire Services, Regional Waste Management and Environmental Services;  help for a destroyed community; what needs support for COVID costs and losses; sharing our bylaw officer; the bottle bin . . .  and more.

Present:  Mayor Kathy Moore and Councillors Andy  Morel, Terry  Miller, Chris Bowman, Janice Nightingale, Dirk Lewis and Stewart Spooner.  Staff who spoke included Chief Administrative Officer Bryan Teasdale, Manager of Operations and Infrastructure Scott Lamont, Chief Financial Officer Mike Kennedy, and Manager of Recreation and Events Kristi Calder.  

Public Input Period:

Sue Wrigley spoke in favour ofgoing through the steps needed to become a Bear Smart Community. She noted that we aren’t doing a very good job of managing bear attractants, and that results in more bears being destroyed.  Climate change is likely to bring more bad years for bears, she added, so we need to be more careful.              

Bears and humans; what to do?

Staff asked Council for a decision on completing the process to become a designated Bear Smart community, and directing staff to act on the recommendations.  Morel moved to provide the funding to compete a Bear Hazard Assessment; Lewis spoke briefly in support.  Spooner said he didn’t think we need to pay $6000 to tell us what we need to do; he listed a number of suggestions to that end and added that he doubts enough residents would be willing to do all of those things. Nightingale said she is concerned that we could spend a lot of money to get a Bear Smart designation, but it wouldn’t change the human behaviour enough to keep more of the bears out of town.  Miller wondered whether the $6000 might be better spent on better garbage bins. Lewis spoke in support of completing the process, and thought just adding more and better bins would not be enough. Moore added that she doesn't think the community is “unteachable” and noted that Rossland has many new residents. Miller acknowledged that there are residents who will not follow advice about managing attractants, but thinks efforts at education are worthwhile.

The motion CARRIED with only Spooner opposed.

Permissive Tax Exemptions Bylaw:

A motion to adopt Bylaw # 2763, Permissive Tax Exemptions for the years 2022-2026, CARRIED unanimously.

Sharing -- Bylaw Enforcement:

The Village of Warfield has asked the City of Rossland to enter into an agreement to provide bylaw enforcement services.  Rossland has recently hired a full-time Bylaw Officer, and Warfield wishes to purchase an undefined number of hours per week – estimated to be approximately ten hours -- of his services from the City.  A motion to approve the proposed contract CARRIED unanimously.

December holiday closure:

A motion to approve the closure of City Hall from Monday December 27, 2021, to Friday December 31, 2021, CARRIED unanimously.

Rossland Covid19 Safe Restart Funding:

Council reviewed the funds provided to the City by the Province, and the amounts already spent and allocated, and the suggested “pockets” of funding for different categories of need arising from Covid.  Councillors suggested further refinements on allocation – for supporting people in need, Lewis suggested funding efforts to curb the opioid crisis; Morel thought that most of the need for that is in Trail, but Teasdale noted that funds can be spent outside the community, and that Rossland has “Moms Stop the Harm.”  Nightingale suggested extending the age-friendly coordinator’s contract and the “Better At Home” program, and funding for more childcare spaces.  Miller thought it would be helpful to provide funding to help overcome the barrier of the TRP.  He also noted that the Sustainability Commission “used to have a budget and could tackle projects and get a lot done.”  Bowman thought the City should first ensure that the losses from its own facilities should be topped up first, and then help for child care and seniors.  Moore suggested funding for emergency preparedness -- for example, for shelter from heat and  smoke.  She also suggested creating a “phone tree” for notifying or checking on vulnerable seniors; and she noted that the Seniors’ Centre has no phone or internet.  She suggested inviting input from community groups about their needs that have been increased by Covid.  Calder suggested an in-house Events Coordinator. 

Nightingale proposed a resolution to have staff work with community groups to determine their needs;  after discussion, the  motion  FAILED unanimously, and councillors agreed that they will all send their ideas to staff for consideration at a later date.

FireSmart:

A motion to endorse the 2022 Community Resiliency Investment Program - Firesmart Community Funding & Supports Program application and to provide grant management for the program, which will reduce the risk and impact of wildfire to the city of Rossland, CARRIED unanimously.  “It’s important, and becoming more so,” said one council member.

Centre Star Gulch Dam Improvement Project:

A motion to approve the tender submission from Copcan Civil L.P. for completion of the Centre Star Gulch Reservoir Improvement Project with the inclusion of Change Order #1 –Scope Reduction, resulting in the tender amount of $1,115,948.20 exclusive of taxes, CARRIED.  Work on the dam is necessary to improve safety; water levels in the reservoir are being kept low in the meantime. 

Budget Update:

Chief Financial Officer Mike Kennedy presented a detailed, six-page report on the City’s current finances, plus a summary of ongoing work and plans. 

He also included a 40-page 2019 document from the CPA (Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada) entitled “Enhancing Climate-Related Disclosure by Cities: A Guide to Adopting the Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.” In its introductory section, it states, “This guide is designed to help cities determine what climate-related information is valuable for internal decision-making to support short-term budgeting and longer term capital planning.”

Council then perused the 16-page Progress Report on the 2021 Corporate Management work Plan, presented by Chief Administrative Officer Bryan Teasdale. To get a better idea of the work being done by City Staff and by Council, check it out – it’s included in the agenda package for this meeting.

Chamber of Commerce says “Buy local!”

The Trail and District Chamber of Commerce requested that the City install a series of lamp-post banners urging “THINK LOCAL FIRST,” to emphasize the importance of local spending. A motion agreeing to the request to install the banners at no cost to the Chamber,  and leave them up year-round, CARRIED. Spooner opposed the motion, stating that funds intended for Tourism Rossland are being withheld by the Chamber of Commerce.

Rebuilding Lytton: 

The City received a letter from the Electoral Area directors of the  Regional District of Mount Waddington, which included these two paragraphs:

The Village of Lytton suffered a catastrophic loss this summer. The RDMW would like to remind the population of Lytton and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District that they do not stand alone in their time of need.

“To help Lytton rebuild, the Electoral Area Directors of the RDMW will contribute one dollar for every person in their representative areas. ln doing so, the Electoral Area Directors of the RDMW wish to challenge all other local governments to make a similar gesture.

Council discussed that challenge, and Lewis proposed a  motion to provide the requested support. Nightingale argued against it, saying that  “we should support our community first,” and pointing out that residents who wanted to send funds to Lytton could do so.  Spooner agreed with Nightingale; “It’s not our job.  We should stay in our lane.” Morel expressed support for the motion, saying, “It’s an opportunity to help a hard-hit community. If it were our community, I would hope that others would offer help.”  Bowman said he was persuaded by Morel’s words.  Moore said this was an unusual situation – Lytton was almost entirely wiped out. 

The motion to provide funding to Lytton in the amount of one dollar per resident according to the 2016 census figures CARRIED, with Nightingale and Spooner opposed.

Members Reports (selected highlights only)

Bowman reported that the Rossland Museum is looking for board members.

Miller reported that the Rossland Public Library wants to put up a “little free library” outside, where people can pick up books – and keep them. They need approval from the City to do this; a motion to give approval CARRIED unanimously.

Moore reported on the many meetings and functions she had attended.  She said that the bottle bin needs another volunteer and a better location than the current placement near RSS; she said that it is a good fundraiser, but also labour intensive.

Morel provided a written report on recent meetings of Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and its committees.  It is included below, in full, unedited.

The Council meeting adjourned at 7:48 pm, and your reporter shut her computer down, feeling boggled, and hoping that some time relaxing with an escapist novel would help restore some semblance of mental capacity.

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Morel's Report -- RDKB COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES:

Utilities Committee September 8, 2021 by Zoom

· Staff Presentation of upcoming individual service workplans for 2022. First view of proposed workplans for upcoming budget discussions.

· Staff report, getting caught up on Flow Meter #’s for sewage flows from Rossland, Warfield and Trail to Waneta Treatment Plant. Rossland for June – 14%, year to date – Rossland at 22%. Low spring freshet noted for lower early overall volume. Like to think that I&I (Inflow and Infiltration), infrastructure work for Rossland is making a difference.

· Table 1: Flow Summary June 1st - June 30th, 2021 Municipality m3 % YTD % Certified Rossland 32,063 14.7 22.0 Yes* Warfield 24,776 11.4 11.6 Yes* Trail 161,438 74.0 66.4 Yes* Totals 218,277 100 100 Yes* *

RDKB Board Meeting, September 8,2021 by Zoom

· Delegation/ Presentation: Interesting presentation and Board discussion. Under the purview of the RDKB, Big White Mountain Community Issues Assessment Spokesperson: Brittany Tuttle, Urban Systems. Ms. Tuttle presented the findings of the Big White Community Issues Assessment. The purpose of the project was to access the capacity of the RDKB and other agencies to deliver services desired by the Big White community under the current governance model. The process started in July 2019. A survey and workshops were held to engage stakeholders. The consultants concluded that Big White does not require a different governance and service model. Big White currently has approximately 250 full-time, year-round residents.

· Solid Waste Services: Borrowing for Capital Projects J. Dougall, General Manager of Environmental Services Report. Established ranking pending capital projects for regional solid waste services. To be considered for the alternative approval process to achieve long-term borrowing, was presented.

Moved: That the RDKB Board of Directors authorize staff to undertake an Alternative Approval Process (AAP), to obtain elector assent for the following regional solid waste projects:

• McKelvey Creek Upgrade Project

• McKelvey Creek Wasteshed Residential Green Bin Program (assuming grant application is unsuccessful) and Replacementof Wood Grinder. Current budgeting estimates for projects and capital purchase borrowing – $4.6M – Passed Motion to proceed with AAP.

· Energizing News for the RDKB. FortisBC has announced it will fund the RDKB’s Senior Energy Specialist position for an additional two years. The Senior Energy Specialist helps the RDKB meet its energy objectives and move toward a low-carbon future through the implementation of such projects as the electric vehicle fleet. Freya Phillips, Senior Energy Specialist outlined the workplan for Years 3 and 4.

· Staff Reports – Workplan updates provided for General Government Services, Solid Waste Management, Regional Fire Service and Emergency Preparedness.

RDKB Board Special Meeting – September 10, 2021 by Zoom

· Staff Report by General Manager of Finance/CFO, Barb Ihlen Re: Proposed changes to budgeting process – Re: Cost Allocation Policy with finance staff efforts to apportion a true administrative cost to all specific services within the Regional District. This is a requirement by the Local Government Services Act and for RDKB a change from previous allocated Board fees historically added to individual services. The outcome for budgets 2022 and beyond, is some larger service budgets with substantial infrastructure, staff and capital costs will see notable increases in their budgets related to this re-allocation of costs.

· For Rossland – Fire Services, Regional Waste Management and Environmental Services will be notable in cost increases.

East End Services MeetingSeptember 21, 2021 by Zoom

· Delegation – John Wittmayer, Kootenay Regional Film Commission. Making an effort to sell the RDKB region and communities within to the Film industry for possible film location options. Looking to create contacts to local communities, establish the resources and infrastructure available to support film in Region.

· Staff Updates – Q3 Workplan Reports for Regional Fire Service, Victim Services, Ars and Culture, Transit Services. Included is a notable announcement from Province to provide free transit services to BC residents 12 and under to promote ridership increases. With schools back including Selkirk College, increases noted.

· Director Report – Steve Morrisette, Mayor, Fruitvale. Re: Greenlink Trail Update with exciting news that a coordinated effort between Regional District, Fruitvale, Montrose, Trail and Warfield to secure grant funding for an Active Transportation Grant was successful. This planning/design grant project will assist in the continued development of a pedestrian/ cycling trail network linking our communities from Area B/Rossland to the West through the Lower Columbia East to Fruitvale.

RDKB Board Meeting – September 29, 2021

· Staff Report, Covid Update, Emergency Services - Chief, D. Derby reported that test positive rate in the Interior Health Authority (IHA) is 8.5%, which is down from 11.8%. Daily new cases in IHA: 162, active cases: 1,176. Currently hospitalized: 43; currently in Critical Care: 40. The seven-day rolling average of new cases in IHA: 172.1 cases, which is a decrease from the last Board meeting.

Latest Regional cases #s – • Trail – 17;   Grand Forks – 24;   Kettle Valley (up to and including Big White) – 4;   Castlegar – 6;   Nelson 11;  and Arrow Lakes 4.

· Covid 19 Wage Continuation Program: Manager, J. Chandler reported that to date, nearly 2,000 hours of quarantine pay has been issued to 44 staff, including 764 hours of paid leave to eight employees. This amounts to just over $75,000. Provincial Covid Funds support this cost.

· Staff Report and Motion Presented: Cost Allocation Policy. The staff report dated September 23, 2021 from Barb Ihlen, Chief Financial Officer, recommending the adoption of a Cost Allocation Policy, was presented. Substantial discussion by all Board Directors with questions to the CFO. Ihlen reported that she incorporated Directors’ comments into the updated policy. As mentioned earlier, notable increases for larger staff and infrastructure intensive services with re-allocations of Administrative Budget will be in place for 2022 Budget cycle and beyond. The motion was passed, in principle.

· 2020 RDKB Annual Report -- B. Ihlen, Chief Financial Officer.

Staff report regarding the first 2020 RDKB Annual Report, was presented. Unlike Municipal requirements to produce an annual report, Regional Districts are not mandated, however, Senior Staff realize the value of providing an annual summary. Directors provided lots of positive feedback and asked how it would be communicated to the public. It was recommended that an executive summary be produced for the public and will soon be available through RDKB website.

· New CBT Director Nominee: Information Released into Open Meeting from Closed Meeting. That staff be directed to inform the Columbia Basin Trust of the RDKB’s nominee to the Trust’s Board of Directors: Betty Anne Marino. Congratulations to Betty Anne.

(End of RDKB report, prepared by Andy Morel)