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Golden Bear loses tax exemption; new Kootenay-wide Inter-Community business licence proposed; Herbicide and Oregon Grape; and Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality

Present: Mayor Kathy More, and Councillors Chris bowman, Dirk Lewis, Andy Morel, Janice Nightingale, and Stewart Spooner

Staff members present:  Chief Administrative Officer Bryan Teasdale,  Planner Stacy Lightbourne,  Recreation Manager Kristi Calder, Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Año Nuevo,  and Manager of Public Works Darrin Albo

1.  PUBLIC HEARING

Moore invited the public to speak if anyone had concerns about re-zoning the property at 2148 Washington Street from Commercial to Residential Infill.   No one expressed concerns and the Public Hearing was adjourned.

2.  REGULAR MEETING OF ROSSLAND CITY COUNCIL

Public Input Period:

Laura Petit spoke about finding solutions to the problem of drivers speeding in residential areas.

Another resident spoke briefly about the Old Firehall and the Revitalization Tax Exemption.

Laura Nutini of the Golden Bear not-for-profit child care centre spoke about the availability of subsidies for low-income families, explaining that Golden Bear can provide assistance to families for whom the government assistance is not enough. She explained that  Golden Bear’s rates are comparable to others, or lower; and gave the numbers of children they accommodate.  They’re the only centre that provides infant/toddler care, and they have limited spots for them.  They are at capacity for their after-school care program, and need to expand it if possible.

A new resident who lives on the 2400 block Washington Street spoke about the speeding traffic on Washington and Plewman, and the confusing speed signage – the school zone sign gives people the impression that the 30 km limit applies only during school hours.

Delegation RCMP Sergeant Mike Wicentowich  presented the local detachment’s 2019—2020 Annual Performance Plan.  It focuses on traffic safety, and Wicentowich noted that since he arrived, the detachment has significantly increased enforcement to discourage impaired driving.  He mentioned that some officers will soon be trained in speed enforcement with laser speed detection.  He said the province could fund more positions, but “there’s no money.”  Morel asked about a citizen’s speed-watch organization;  Wicentowich indicated that he would like the five local mayors to discuss it and agree on how they would like that to work.  He indicated that ICBC can provide some funding for citizen speed-watch initiatives.

Bylaws:

1.           A motion to adopt the Resort Municipality Initiative Program Reserve Fund Bylaw #2702  CARRIED unanimously.

2.           A motion to give third reading to Zoning Bylaw #2703, to change the zoning of 2148 Washington Street from Commercial to Residential Infill, CARRIED unanimously.

3.           A motion to give first, second and third readings to the Kootenay-Wide Inter Community Business Licence Bylaw #2704  CARRIED unanimously.  Once in effect in all the participating communities, this bylaw aims to enable businesses to operate in all of the  West, Central and East Kootenay communities, plus Golden, with an Inter-Community Business Licence – instead of either paying for business licences in every community they operate in, or being non-compliant and risking sanctions. Please note:  a business must also have a “standard business licence” in a community where they have a physical location, in addition to the Inter Community licence, which will probably cost $100.

For businesses that operate only in the “Greater Trail” communities – Rossland, Trail, Warfield, Montrose, and Fruitvale – an existing option is the “Greater Trail Inter Municipal” business license, at $180.  According to the City of Trail website, it “allows you to carry on business within the communities of Rossland, Warfield, Trail, Montrose and Fruitvale without the need to have a licence specific to each community.”

4.           A motion to give first and second readings to Zoning Amendment Bylaw #2705, to provide for use of the property at 1725 Black Diamond Drive for short-term rentals, CARRIED unanimously.  The motion also scheduled a Public Hearing on the matter for September 16.

Policy Review:

a)           Council reviewed minor amendments to the City’s Third Party Charges Policy, intended to ensure that the City recovers its full costs for call-outs to do work for private property owners or other “third parties” as defined.  Moore pointed out that it’s important for citizens to know that if they call out the City, and it’s a non-City matter, there’s a minimum 4-hour call-out charge.  CARRIED unanimously.

b)           A motion to re-confirm the Asset Management Investment Plan Policy  CARRIED unanimously. Moore noted that the policy mentions Development Cost Charges, which were abolished several years ago, and wondered if this Council is interested in reconsidering the concept – if so, staff could prepare information about DCCs.

A motion to ask staff to provide Council with an information package – a “primer” -- on DCCs, CARRIED unanimously.  

c)           Council discussed the amended Third Party Call-Out Policy, and a motion  to confirm it CARRIED unanimously.

d)           A motion to reconfirm the Road, Sidewalk and Stair Snow Removal Policy  CARRIED unanimously.

Recommendations for Council Decision:

Development Permit Variance application for 1510 Nevada Street:  A motion to allow a reduced set-back adjacent to the undeveloped alley right-of-way, to rebuild a shed that partially collapsed from snow-load,  CARRIED unanimously.

Development Permit Variance application for Lot A, 2812 Cedar Crescent:  A motion to allow a reduced set-back from the undeveloped road allowance for Columbia Avenue (which is highly unlikely ever to be developed because of the terrain) CARRIED, with Spooner and Lewis opposed.

Development Permit Application for 1555 LeRoi Avenue:  A motion to approve the application and enable the construction of a deck on the north side of the building, very close to Trail Creek which runs through the property, with an additional condition that materials and finishes all be non-toxic, CARRIED, with Lewis opposed.  The motion included imposing conditions recommended in the environmental assessment done for the project, including the revegetation of the riparian area with suitable native plants. (The introduced invasive flowering plant known as “policeman’s helmet” currently infests large areas of Rossland, especially along Trail Creek, displacing native vegetation.)    

Permissive Tax Exemption Allocations:

              Rossland Light Opera Players:  a motion to give RLOP a full exemption CARRIED unanimously; a motion to make it a two-year exemption also CARRIED unanimously.

              Health Care Auxiliary (Thrift Store): Council discussed a motion to give a full exemption.  Morel pointed out the that City already sends money to the hospital; Nightingale stated that although they are a “retail enterprise” the money they provide to the community far outweighs the amount the City provides, and there is no other place in Rossland that provides a comparable service.  The motion to grant the exemption CARRIED 4 to 2.  A motion to grant the exemption for two years also CARRIED.

              Rossland Legion (downstairs only):  Nightingale pointed out that the Legion provides service to the community on a number of occasions; Bowman mentioned the number of donations they provide to local community organizations.  Morel referred to the Legion as a “profitable” organization that “can afford to pay,” but Moore noted that she has looked at their finances and they are not at all well off financially.   The motion to give the full exemption for the downstairs portion of the building CARRIED 4 to 2, with Morel and Spooner opposed.

              Child Care Society (Golden Bear):  Council discussed a motion to provide a full exemption.  Spooner said they proved a much-needed service; Morel emphasized that they rent a City facility at a reduced rate, and therefore already enjoy a subsidy.  The motion FAILED with only Spooner in support.

Extension of Engineering Services Agreement with ISL Engineering:  A motion to extend the current agreement, with the same schedule of fees, until September 24, 2024, CARRIED unanimously.

Solid Waste Services Review:  A motion to accept the tender submitted by Dillon Consulting Ltd. of Richmond, BC,  to complete a review of the City’s solid waste collection and disposal program, for $14,988.30, CARRIED unanimously. 

Three-Year Paving Program tender award:  Council discussed a motion to accept the tender submitted by Selkirk Paving Ltd.  (SPL) up to a maximum of  $817,922.20 over the three years.  It was noted that the cost was about 20% higher than anticipated, but that SPL is “the only game in town” – and that paving costs in this area are higher than in the Okanagan, where there is some competition. The motion  CARRIED unanimously.

A motion to accept the Copcan tender for sidewalks at RED, for $176,232.50, CARRIED unanimously.

Council then examined and approved the list of July, 2019, expenditures for the City, and reviewed the Public Works and Water Production Reports for July, the Bylaw Enforcement Report,  the Building Permits Report, and the Updated Task List.

Letters:

Resident Ken Holmes submitted a letter requesting that the City revise its “Energy Efficient Building Incentive Policy” to allow for certification by qualified energy modelers other than only NRCan licensed and registered energy advisors.  Morel suggested that Council look into the matter and discuss it at a future meeting when Lightbourne has had an opportunity to check it out.  A motion to that effect CARRIED unanimously.

 Paul Clarke, of RED Mountain Resort, wrote to the City requesting a letter of support for a grant application to the BC Rural Dividend Program, to assist with developing a new network of three multi-use trails to be known as the “Millennial Trails,” in partnership with the Kootenay-Columbia Trails Society.   A motion to send the letter of support CARRIED unanimously (Spooner recused himself because of his position with KCTS).

Members’ Reports:

Members each reported on meetings attended.  Bowman reported on the Heritage Commission, and asked whether the Oregon Grape in the old cemetery could be sprayed with herbicide again; Moore emphatically responded, “No!” explaining that Oregon Grape is a native plant, and the City’s policy is to use herbicides only for harmful introduced invasive plants such as Knotweed (though the old cemetery’s Oregon Grape, which has overgrown and obscured a number of burial sites, has been sprayed with herbicide for at least two successive years in the recent past). Councillors mentioned hearing the concerns of pet owners, organic farmers, and beekeepers in the area.

Moore requested Council’s support for a letter to the BC government encouraging  disbanding the Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality, in light of the recent BC Court of Appeal decision finding that Jumbo’s environmental Assessment Certificate had expired without the project having been “substantially started.”  The “municipality” has a mayor, at least one council member, and a Chief Financial Officer, is operated out of Radium, and is funded by the taxpayers of BC.  For more information on the structure and finances of the Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality, which has no residents, no services and no buildings, read this article.  A motion to support Moore’s proposed letter CARRIED unanimously.

Council recessed the meeting to an in camera session, and – Warning:  editorial bias on display here --your reporter strolled home feeling grateful to the two (of three) BC Court of Appeal judges – Justices Groberman and Fitch -- who issued the majority decision on Jumbo Glacier Resort with its exhausted environmental assessment certificate and lack of “substantial start” to its highly contentious and massive proposed project, and wondering what will happen next with that particular boondoggle.  Will Jumbo attempt an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada?  Will they simply apply for a new environmental assessment certificate?  

Will the province dissolve the Jumbo Glacier Resort Municipality?  According to the BC Government website, “Dissolution occurs in the rare instance when the objects of the improvement district are no longer feasible, and the B.C. government and the improvement district agree that provision of these services is no longer viable.” 

Well, that ought to fit Jumbo at this point.