Rossland City Council Brief: September 28

Partnership with Interior Health; Streetlights; Water rate and sewer rate bylaws; Washington St. loan; Recreational trail tax breaks

Partnership with Interior Health

Kerri Wall, community health facilitator with Interior Health, gave a presentation to council about the important impact that municipal government can have on health, and asked the City of Rossland to partner with Interior Health “to promote health and wellness in the community and reduce risk factors for chronic disease.”

Council asked Wall some questions about what such a partnership would look like, but didn’t make a decision about whether or not to move forward with the partnership.

Streetlights

Council voted against a recommendation from staff to remove and disconnect mid-block streetlights and one or more streetlights on corners with multiple lights.

The recommendation was meant to follow up a new Street Light Policy, which council voted to adopt at the same meeting, but council felt that a new lighting plan needed to be developed, complete with public engagement, before any action was taken.

Water rate and sewer rate bylaws

Following up on directions from council at the last regular meeting, staff came back with revised tables showing the change to water and sewer rates that would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016 if council votes to approve two new bylaws to change the rates.

Water rates would rise from $201 to $217.17 and sewer rates would rise from $280 to $353.54 for the average metered residence.

Council had also asked staff to provide specific examples of businesses and how they would be affected by the increases. One example is the Prestige Hotel; its water rate would rise from $562.80 to $4,126.26, and its sewer rates would rise from $783.89 to $6,717.28.

Council also debated the merits of a seniors’ discount on the two utilities. Mayor Kathy Moore suggested that maybe it should be a low income discount instead, but there were concerns about how city staff would determine which individuals qualify as low income.

Council approved the first two readings of both bylaws, and instructed staff to prepare for public consultation on both.

Washington St. loan

Council approved the alternative approval process calendar to get public consent for a bylaw that will allow the city to borrow up to $4,000,000 for the Washington St. infrastructure renewal project. Anyone who’s against adoption of the bylaw needs to submit a form, available at city hall, to council by Nov. 13, 2015. If more than 10 per cent of Rossland’s electors (approx. 271 people) object to the bylaw, then there will be a referendum. Otherwise council is free to adopt the bylaw and pursue the loan.

A notice of the alternative approval process has been published in this issue of the Rossland News, and there will be a second notice published next week.

Recreational trail tax breaks

Council considered a request from the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society (KCTS) to provide a tax break for private land owners who allow the society to run recreational trails through their private property. The KCTS explained that land owners take on legal liability and have to comply with the Managed Forest Council’s regulations, but don’t currently receive anything in return. Though KCTS is a registered non-profit and charitable organization, it’s not possible to provide tax receipts for in-kind donations.

Council agreed that land owners are providing a valuable community service, but felt the matter needed further consideration.