Back to top

Our plastic bag bylaw, and Mayor Moore writes to the Minister of Environment

Rossland City Council Meeting, July 15, 2019

Present:  Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Scott Forsyth, Janice Nightingale, Chris Bowman, Stewart Spooner, and Dirk Lewis.  Absent: Andy Morel.   Staff: Chief Administrative Officer Bryan Teasdale, Chief Financial Officer Elma Hamming, Manager of Operations Darrin Albo, Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Año Neuvo, and Recreation Manager Kristi Calder.

Public Input Period:

Local architect Dimitri Lesniewicz  spoke in support of the development variance permit application for 2553  Washington Street, offering to answer any questions about it. He suggested that the height permitted in the bylaw “might be a little low.”  Spooner asked what he though it should be; he suggested seven metres, and acknowledged that even if it were,  he would still have to ask for a variance for this particular structure.

Resident Lisa Wegner spoke about the plastic bag bylaw, and the BC Court of Appeal decision striking down Victoria’s bag ban bylaw.  She read out a brief letter from local Green Party candidate Tara Howse, supporting the bylaw and encouraging Council to move ahead with it.  She praised Ferraro’s grocery store; management there has been proactive in addressing the check-out bag problem and reducing styrofoam.

Another resident spoke about the charges for garbage collection, and asked if Council could revise their approach to charging for garbage.  Moore assured him that the City will be looking into the entire garbage collection system and costs. The resident went on in detail and at length, claiming (inter alia) that it was undemocratic if he can’t opt out of garbage collection and all the associated charges.  He also spoke about getting an email about changing his water meter.  He maintained that the meter hadn't worked “from day one!”  He demanded answers to specific questions about his particular situation, and Moore explained that this wasn’t the forum to get answers – he should go to City Hall.  He was finally rather forcefully told to sit down, and that he was out of order.   

Bylaws:

1.  Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw:  Council discussed a  motion to adopt; Lewis wanted to go ahead with the bylaw, which would not go into effect until January, 2020;  he wondered what the costs to the City would be if the Plastic Bag manufacturers come after us.  Forsyth favours going ahead with it, on the basis that Rossland’s reason for the bylaw is different from Victoria’s – ours is about the cost to the municipality of handling so much plastic trash.  Nightingale felt cautious about the possibility of a lawsuit, but is eager to go ahead with the bylaw.  Spooner asked Teasdale what the City’s lawyer said; he explained that the potential liability would be “fairly minimal.”  Moore commented that the UBCM convention had unanimously asked the BC government to move on the plastics issue.  She noted that Tofino and Ucluelet have enacted bans and are “sticking with them.”  The motion to adopt the bylaw CARRIED unanimously.

A motion to send a letter drafted by Moore to the Minister of Environment also CARRIED unanimously.  The letter seeks the provincial government’s support for municipal bans on plastic waste, and for broader government action to curb unnecessary plastic.  Inter alia, Moore’s letter states, “Unfortunately, we now have a situation where municipalities who want to develop and adopt single-use item strategies and related incentives to reduce plastics are being handcuffed by the lack of Provincial leadership and spirited legal action by the plastics industry.”   Her letter also emphasizes the costs of disposal and the limits of space in our landfill.  “The more we can divert waste the longer our landfill will last.  . . . this issue hits our residents directly as we manage and pay or our costly waste management service and landfill. We are drowning in plastic and we beseech you for your help.”

2.  Zoning Amendment Bylaw for 2650 Washington Street: a  motion to adopt the bylaw changing the zoning from R1 to R1-Guest Suite CARRIED unanimously.

3.  Zoning Amendment Bylaw for 2148 Washington Street:  A motion to give first and second readings to a bylaw rezoning the property from Commercial to R1-Infill, which is consistent with the surrounding properties and with its current use,  CARRIED unanimously.

4.  A motion to approve Rossland’s Resort Development Strategy for 2019 – 2022 CARRIED unanimously; and a further motion to give first, second, and third readings to a Resort Municipality Initiative Program Reserve Fund Bylaw also CARRIED unanimously. Lewis queried the estimated cost of a public washroom, but it’s just a rough estimate at this point.

Policies:

Council considered the Respectful Workplace Policy,  the Information Technology Acceptable Use Policy, the Employees Step Discipline Program Policy,  and the Employee Rules and Regulations Policy, all as amended to improve clarity and readability; all policies were approved, with minor editing corrections.

Staff Reports and Updates:

Snowmaking at RED:  Council discussed a motion to renew the agreement with RED for the use of raw water for snowmaking, for a period of five years (until August 2024), with an increase in the base rate charged for the water to $2,500 per year.  Nightingale suggested an amendment for an incremental increase of $150 per year to that rate.  Bowman suggested keeping the rate flat, citing RED’s contributions to the community.  The amendment FAILED; Spooner suggested an annual 2% increase; and that amendment CARRIED, as did the main amended motion.   

Council reviewed a Development Permit Variance application for 2224 Elmore Avenue, requesting reduced front and side set-backs for a proposed double garage, and a wider driveway – with a snow easement to the City.  A motion to approve it CARRIED unanimously.

Another applicant was back with an amended Development Permit Variance application for 2553 Washington Street, after the first request for a height variance of 3.5 meters was rejected by Council at its June 3, 2019, meeting.  The new application seeks a 1.2 metre height increase.  A  motion to approve the application CARRIED.

City of Rossland Annual Report:   Moore bestowed high praise on the report, and Councillors agreed; a motion to approve the report  CARRIED unanimously.

A second City electric bike:  Council considered a staff recommendations that an earlier resolution, to allocate $4000 from the Climate Action Reserve Fund for the purchase of an electric bicycle for City Hall, be rescinded, and that council instead allocate $8,000 from the Climate Action Reserve Fund for an electric bicycle for City Hall Staff use, and a second electric bicycle for Public Works staff use.  A motion to rescind the former notion CARRIED; the next motion to allocate the funds for the two bikes also CARRIED.

Skatepark Update:  Council discussed a staff recommendation that the City allocate $30,000 from the General Capital Fund to complete the skatepark project.  Calder explained what still needs to be done, and a motion to dedicate the funds as recommended CARRIED with only Nightingale opposed.

Taking care of Business:

Staff recommended that Council approve an agreement with the Regional District of Kootenay-Boundary  (RDKB), for the RDKB to cover building inspection services for Rossland during vacation leaves, and setting the amount of remuneration for the service. A  motion to do that CARRIED unanimously.

Council reviewed the payments made for municipal services, the Corporate Management Work Plan report, the Second Quarter Budget Update, the Public works and Water Production reports,  the Building Permit report for June, and the Bylaw Enforcement Report for June.  Moore praised the quality of the reports.

 (Highlights from the Bylaw Enforcement Report include one ticket issued for smoking or vaping in a designated non-smoking/vaping area, three tickets issued for improper storage of refuse, three warnings about outdoor water use, four warnings for parking where prohibited . . . and several more warnings, including backyard burning and noise.  Moore noted that people are still ignoring the no-idling bylaw, and she’d like to see some enforcement of that provision.) 

Council reviewed Moore’s draft letter to the  Gaming BC Capital Grants Program, in  strong support of the Rossland Curling Society’s grant application for funding to replace the arena’s chiller, and a motion to send the letter CARRIED unanimously.

Member’s Reports:  Councillors reported on their various meetings and other activities since the last Council meeting. 

Forsyth commented on his ride on the “trishaw” – “it’s amazing how engaging it is!  Everyone talks to you.” 

He also suggested that the “Public Input Period” is not necessary, and he moved that we do away with it.  Bowman argued that regardless of the occasional difficult person wasting Council’s time, it’s valuable to both residents and Council.  Nightingale mentioned that some communities have separate meetings for it.  Spooner said he thinks it’s valuable.  Lewis said he wasn’t keen on having a separate meeting.  Moore said she thinks it’s very important, and very seldom burdensome.  The motion to do away with it FAILED unanimously. 

Council recessed to an in camera session,and your reporter wandered off with her laptop and Les Anderson (who had sat through the entire meeting, wearing a suit, unlike anyone else there) for an enjoyable chat over refreshments at the Flying Steamshovel before strolling home again in the beautiful summer evening . . . feeliing very grateful for our region's relatively temperate and moist weather so far this summer.