City forgives chunk of Rossland Radio Co-op gas bill

Rossland Radio Co-op will not have to pay the full $2,484 of the three year gas bill that was recently dropped on it.

City council granted a one-year lease to the Rossland Radio Co-op on Monday.

Rossland Radio Co-op will not have to pay the full $2,484 of the three year gas bill that was recently dropped on it.

City council decided to follow staff recommendation to waive two of the three years covered in the bill, bringing it down to $805.

Council also granted a one-year lease renewal, diverging from staff’s opinion of a three year lease.

Marty Unger, a member of the co-op, spoke during the public input period, prior to council’s decision and said the bill would be a major hit to the cooperative.

Unger said the co-op does as much fundraising as it can, and is still working to pay off a roof repair bill.

He said the radio station is a valuable tool in the community, and not just a bunch of renegade  kids, since there are members with credentials.

Coun. Jill Spearn agreed that the radio co-op serves an important purpose in the community. “Having a radio co-op in our town is an attribute to the community,” Spearn said, however she added that she is in favour of selling the Rotary building, where the co-op is housed, down the road.

Coun. Tim Thatcher said he doesn’t think the city should be in the real estate business, and agreed with Spearn that he’d like to see the city sell the Rotary building.

Currently, the co-op shares the main floor of the building with the Rossland Food Bank. Rossland and District Search and Rescue utilizes the basement to store gear.

Neither the food bank, nor the search and rescue outfit pay rent, while the co-op pays half for its space.

Council then discussed the priorities of housing non-profit organizations.

Coun. Kathy Moore said it’s not fair to have the co-op covering the entire rent.

Mayor Greg Granstrom noted that if the food bank had to pay rent it would have to move or close.

Council agreed that there was a benefit to providing space to some worthy non profits.

Coun. Cary Fisher said that he would prioritize the search and rescue over the radio co-op.

“There are basic needs that need to be covered,” he said, noting that search and rescue and a food bank are among those needs.

Coun. Kathy Wallace said she was still not sure that the Rotary building is the best location for the co-op. She suggested, as she had in the past, that it move into the school at some point,  once the reconfiguration of the schools is complete.

“It exposes the co-op to that whole body of students,” Wallace said.

Fisher suggested a standard application for funding in the Feb. 13 city council meeting, as a result of the Kootenay Columbia Trail Society misunderstanding in that meeting. That way, certain organizations which meet the requirements wouldn’t have to keep coming back to council fearing their funding will be cut.

He elaborated on the thought a bit more with regards to the co-op’s situation.

“There should be a plan for these types of organizations for seed support, then a time frame for self-sufficiency,” Fisher said. That way, the organization can get on its feet, but knows that the funding is limited and is forced to seek other forms of income.

Fisher addressed the co-op: “One day if the city doesn’t have money, they’ll come to you and say your cut.”

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