by Sara Golling on Tuesday May 16 2023
Short-Term Rentals – working toward a better way; Chamber of Commerce seeks more funding; RDKB provides info on activities, budget, and taxes; how to deal with rodent problems; a decision on Public Input Period; establishing a new Standing Committee; a new mural for the YAN building; “Wheels & Reels” bike fest; cupcakes for Canada Day; Rossland’s CFO wins an award; and the latest RDKB report.
Present: Mayor Andy Morel and Councillors Jeff Weaver, Craig Humpherys, Maya Provençal, Stewart Spooner and Lisa Kwiatkowski. Absent: Eliza Boyce. Staff: CAO Bryan Teasdale, CFO Mike Kennedy, Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Añonuevo, Executive Assistant Rachel Newton, City Planner Stacey Lightbourne, Manager of Operations and Infrastructure Scott Lamont.
1. COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE: Short-Term Rentals
Public Input Period: (With special thanks to Executive Assistant Rachel Newton, who filled in some blanks.) The public gallery was well attended, and many residents spoke up. Some explained that they could afford to move here only because they had a short-term rental unit to help with expenses. One person, who has had experience operating both a long-term rental and a short-term rental unit, said he had more problems with the long-term tenants than he did with the short-term unit; he thought concern about noise and neighbourhood disruption from short-term rentals was not well-founded. Another person stated that in his experience, long-term rental properties cost more to maintain. Others said that limiting short-term rentals will not be likely to free up long-term rentals, because the real factor limiting long-term rentals is the provincial legislation which favours tenants over landlords and creates a hostile climate for long-term rentals. Some think that the shortage of accommodation is seasonal, and that local businesses that depend on seasonal labour should help solve the shortage.
Council considered the information from the residents who spoke during Public Input, as well as the results of the survey completed by over 750 residents, and a discussion paper by Staff on the topic of short-term rentals and different levels of regulation. After discussing the pros and cons of stricter regulation versus more permissive regulation in different areas of Rossland – downtown, “old town,” Red Mountain and Redstone – Council agreed to make the following recommendations to the next Council meeting:
- That STRs be limited to one unit per property;
- That no density limit be imposed;
- That STRs be limited to properties occupied by the owner as their principal residence;
- That the issue of equity between commercial accommodators and homeowner-operated STRs be considered;
- That the administration of STR applications be streamlined.
2. REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING:
Public Input Period:
RoRo Giles spoke to support the request regarding the mural on the Youth Action Network (YAN) building, and stated that Rossland’s YAN is the top-performing YAN group in the Columbia Basin.
Laura Pettitt spoke in favour of continuing open-topic Public Input Period, not limiting topics to those on the agenda of the meeting.
Tara Howse spoke in favour of the mural on the YAN building, and also supported the requests for Bike Fest.
An enthusiastic resident whose name I didn’t catch spoke in favour of the “bike fest” requests – on the agenda as “Wheels and Reels.”
Matthew Watkins, chair of the Sustainability Commission, spoke to support the SC recommendations for more advanced building code requirements to help curb climate change.
Dirk Lewis spoke in favour of the Sustainability Commission recommendations on building code changes.
Trail & District Chamber of Commerce:
The Chamber of Commerce is appealing for increased core funding, under the “Economic development” funding stream rather than just the Grant-in-aid funding stream. Erika Krest, Executive Director of the Chambe, introduced their values, mission and vision, and outlined the work the Chamber does for local businesses, including province-wide advocacy for the business community. She listed the Chambers sources of revenue, province their financial statements, and indicated that without additional funding they may have to close.
Spooner clarified that the Chamber is asking for funding from the East End Services of the RDKB, and wants Rossland to support that request. He noted that Council deals with funding requests from many organizations, and needs to know, for each request, how it will benefit the community.
Regional District of Kootenay Boundary:
RDKB CEO Mark Andison and Board Chair Linda Worley, who is also the Area B representative, presented an overview of the 72 services the RDKB provides – Rossland participates in 13 of those services – and the budgets and taxation levels for the past several years. The current budget is much higher than in previous years, because of capital projects including the McKelvey Creek Landfill Improvement project and the biggest-ticket item – the Columbia Pollution Control Centre project to upgrade sewage treatment for from primary to secondary treatment before dumping it into the Columbia River and downstream across the international border.
Andison pointed out that although taxes collected from municipalities such as Rossland to fund the RDKB’s administration and activities have risen, they have not risen nearly as much as could be expected from the large increase in the budget, because the RDKB has been successful in obtaining significant grant funding to assist with the big projects.
Andison encourages everyone to look through the RDKB website, and to check out the region’s Climate Action Plan and its South Kootenay Agricultural Strategy.
The new curbside collection of organic materials – the “Green Bin” program – is slated to begin for Rossland and other Lower Columbia communities on October 1.
Kwiatkowski noted the plan to transport organic waste all the way to Salmo for composting, and the potential for “Bear Aware” conflicts, and asked about getting compost back. Andison described the two types of bins, available in limited numbers – the “critter resistant” bins, and the stronger “bear resistant” bins. Worley commented that freezing any material potentially attractive to bears and other scavengers, and not putting them out in the bin until collection day, prevents many “critter problems.” Getting compost back will depend on the quality of the finished product, which won’t be known for some time yet.
Pesticide and Herbicide Policy – proposed amendment:
At the previous meeting, Council had asked for more clarity in this policy about controlling rodents without using rodenticides that harm or kill other creatures who prey on the poisoned rodents. Staff has improved paragraph 5 to read: “To promote an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to rodent management that includes aspects of Prevention, Identification, Monitoring, Thresholds, Treatment and Evaluation, rather than Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs).”
A motion to accept the amended policy CARRIED unanimously. To see suggestions on preventing and dealing with rodent problems, see this publication.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2806 – Density Definition:
A motion to give the bylaw third reading CARRIED unanimously, as did a further motion to adopt the bylaw.
Council Procedure Bylaw # 2909 – amendments regarding Public Input Period:
The proposed amendments would have restricted comments from the public during Public Input Period to topics on the agenda of the meeting. During discussion, Kwiatkowski voiced opposition to limiting the topics, and Weaver and Humpherys echoed her opposition. The motion to amend the bylaw FAILED, with only Spooner and Provençal voting in favour.
Another proposed change would have required anyone wishing to distribute materials to councillors to hand them in to the Executive Assistant, rather than approaching councillors directly, but this was not addressed and accordingly it failed as well.
Indigenous Reconciliation & Territory Land Acknowledgement Policy
Spooner said that he supports reconciliation, but thinks that reciting land acknowledgements without engaging in concrete action to support First Nations in the real issues they face is disrespectful. Provençal disagreed. She pointed out that Canada had declared the Sinixt extinct, and that the City had consulted with First nations about the Land Acknowledgement, and that failing to confirm it would be disrespectful. Morel noted that the RDKB has just approved a new land Acknowledgement, and because of the large area it covers, has refrained from mentioning any specific First Nations; Morel agreed with Spooner that action is important.
A motion to reconfirm the policy as presented CARRIED, with only Spooner opposed.
Permissive Tax Exemption Policy
Amendments accommodate a shift to digital applications and communications, and add reporting to Council on other contributions by the City to applicants, such as grant-in-aid amounts and other forms of support provided by the City.
A motion to approve the amended policy CARRIED unanimously.
Common Access Card Program Memorandum of Understanding:
Council materials explain that the Common Access Card Program “was initiated to encourage greater inclusion of low-income households in recreational, cultural and other community programs and services.” It provides “low-barrier access” to those eligible, at reduced (or no) cost.
A motion to approve the proposed MOU between the Skills Centre and other entities CARRIED unanimously.
AccessibleBC: B.C.’s Accessibility Plan for 2022/23 to 2024/25:
The Provincial government passed the Accessible British Columbia Act in June of 2021, and the regulation came into effect on September 1, 2022. Local governments must put into place an Accessibility Committee and a plan, and a tool to receive feedback on accessibility.
Staff presented draft Terms of Reference for a proposed Standing Committee on “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility.” The Committee is intended to have two staff members, two members with disabilities who represent organizations that support or serve persons with disabilities, two members representing the diversity of persons in BC, and one Indigenous member.
A motion to approve the Terms of Reference as presented CARRIED unanimously.
BC Building Code Changes:
The province has put forward options for municipalities to reach the province’s climate action goals for construction of homes and renovations. Council discussed the background information and the options provided by Staff and recommendations from the Energy Task Force of the Sustainability Commission. The Energy Task Force favoured a more pro-active approach, pointing out that continuing to allow carbon-intensive uses in new builds and renovations only increases the cost of necessary retrofits later on.
Provençal liked the Energy Task Force’s recommendations, commenting that “Rossland has always been ahead of the province, and that has played out well.” Humpherys expressed concern about extra costs for local builders. Spooner said, yes, doing the right thing will cost more money, but we have to act drastically because “we’re frying the planet.” Weaver was concerned about consultation with the building industry; Lightbourne explained that when a DRAFT bylaw is produced, it will be discussed with builders. Morel commented that the construction industry knows these changes are coming and has access to information, and that there are also major incentives available.
A motion to approve the “full carbon reduction pathway,” (focusing on reducing emissions through the energy systems) with the recommendations from the energy Task Force of the Sustainability Commission CARRIED, with only Humpherys opposed – he would have preferred the slightly less expensive, less advanced option.
2022 Supplementary Statements of Financial Information
A motion to approve the above document(s) CARRIED unanimously.
For Information Only: Centennial Trail Grooming Program -- Operational Feedback:
Council received the report on the equipment for maintaining Centennial Trail.
Building Permit Report; Building Permit Inspections by Type; Step Code Energy Rebates; Public Works Report; Water Production Report; Eye on Water Report; Bylaw Compliance Monthly Activity Report; Rossland Midtown Status Report; Updated Task List.
Councillors had no questions or comments on the reports.
Canada Day 2023 Event Request from Rossland Museum:
A motion to approve the request for funding to buy cupcakes, and some in-kind support from the City, CARRIED unanimously after a slightly acerbic comment from Spooner about paying for cupcakes.
Wheels 'N Reels Event Support Request 2023:
A motion to approve the closure of Sourdough Alley on June 24, 2023 from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for the Wheels 'N Reels event CARRIED unanimously.
Queering Rossland Mural Request:
A motion to approve the request by Queering Rossland for City support in renewing the mural hung on the East side of the Youth Action Network building CARRIED unanimously.
Weaver reported that he had toured the sewage treatment plant, otherwise known as the “Columbia Pollution Control Centre.” He said that in the past, he has swum in the Columbia River downstream of the outflow point and now regrets that, and intends never to do so again.
Morel reported that our CFO, Mike Kennedy, has won an “Outstanding New Member” award from the Government finance Officers Association of BC. He also reported that former Trail City Councillor and former RDKB board member Robert Cacchioni has died. Morel ended by praising Rossland City staff for their work to bring councillors up to speed on complex topics.
Morel’s latest report on RDKB activities was part of the council materials, and is reproduced below in full: Finance Officers
RDKB BOARD ACTIVITIES:
Liquid Waste Management Plan Committee Meeting – April 6, 2023 Trail, BC
- Staff Report, Gord Denkovski., regarding the Columbia Pollution Control Centre Upgrade project. Proceeding with the procurement process, a recent, mandatory Open House for Contractors attracted 32 individuals – a good turnout of interest. On the Bonfire Project Procurement website 98 companies had sourced related documents to project with over 300 questions being posted. A 3 week extension to deadline – May 17 for bid submission granted.
RDKB Board Meeting – April 12, 2023 by Teams
- Staff Report: Freya Phillips. On October 12, 2022, the RDKB Board of Directors approved the RDKB Climate Action Plan. This staff provided the new Directors an overview of the RDKB Climate Action Plan.
Area B/Lower Columbia-Old Glory – Grants in Aid Allocations:
- The Rossland Gold Fever Follies – production costs: $2,500
- Rossland Society for Environmental Action/Rossland Streamkeepers – RDKB Area B and Trail Creek Watershed waterquantity and quality monitoring: $4,000
Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Government Conference, April 21-23 Cranbrook, BC
- Numerous local Municipal Councillors and Regional Directors attended this annual 3 day Conference. Great opportunity for first time officials to meet other community peers, discuss common issues and listen to a variety of topics, from Leadership to Environmental to Risk Management, to Asset Management as well as supporting resolutions to forward to UBCM Conference in September – Union of BC Municipalities.
Policy and Personnel Committee – April 26, 2023 – Trail
- Staff report – Re: current RDKB land acknowledgment regarding inclusiveness of various indigenous communities. Staff have spoken with some local people who work closely with Indigenous groups to better understand how we can create an inclusive, respectful and meaningful land acknowledgement to reflect truth and advance reconciliation. Staff and Directors will continue to work towards changes in support of more inclusive language.
RDKB Board Meeting – April 26, 2023 – Trail
· Delegation: W. Giles, Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
- R. Simard, Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. The presenters provided a thorough overview of the successes and challenges of numerous projects and treaty discussions between governments and various BC Indigenous groups requiring gifted communicators and substantial patience from all sides.
- Staff arranging tours for Board Directors of Boundary Region including Christina Lake and Big White in 2023 and 2024
Regional Connectivity Committee – April 27, 2023 by Zoom
- Presentation by Shaw Communications on the recent merger of Shaw and Rogers Communications companies. Numerous improvements to BC communications – internet and mobile. Currently negotiating partnering with StarLink to provide services to isolated, difficult to reach with fibre, rural communities. A number of new technologies being rolled out soon. An effort to increase cellular coverage on a number of highway corridors. We have advocated for Hwy 3 – both Paulson and Salmo Creston Passes.
END of RDKB Report
The Council meeting adjourned, and your reporter walked home, regretting having spilled water on her laptop – now non-functional -- the previous day, and apologizes to readers for any omissions caused by not writing fast enough.