Rossland City Council voted to turn Deer Park into Rossland Forest Park at Monday night’s council meeting.
The change came about as the result of a proposal put forward by Rossland resident Anthony Bell, who offered his own land adjacent to city property as part of the park (see “Applicant’s Land” on map).
The goal of the Rossland Forest Park is “to conserve the area for wildlife and for Rossland residents and visitors, to enjoy for recreation, in perpetuity.”
The proposed site includes a wetland/pond in Lucy’s Meadow, which “has been identified as supporting healthy amphibian populations of Long‐Toed Salamanders, Northern Pacific Tree frogs, and Columbia Spotted Frogs,” according to the city staff report on the park.
Coun. Andrew Zwicker was in favour of the park and liked the idea suggested in the staff report that suggested that portions of City Lot 24, which is currently zoned for limited development, could be designated as residential, while the rest is designated as a park.
The sale and taxes from those residential portions would help compensate for the tax revenue that will be lost from Bell’s land ($786.06 in total and $465.82 municipal) and potentially from an adjacent parcel of Teck land ($2,129.97 in total and $1,262.22 municipal).
“Teck representatives have indicated support for the project,” according to the staff report. “Their policy requires a values-based assessment of the land before entering into a protection covenant. They have scheduled this area for an assessment in 2018. Discussions will continue.”
Coun. Aaron Cosbey said he was initially concerned that by reserving the land as a park, councillors could be shooting themselves in the foot down the road as Rossland grows.
“But I went through — I guess on questions like this we’re supposed to be guided by the OCP [Official Community Plan] and the SSP [Strategic Sustainability Plan], and I went through them,” he said.
Cosbey found that many sections of both the OCP and the SSP supported protecting parkland, including sections of both that mention limiting sprawling development and developing a network of green spaces.
Though Coun. Marten Kruysse raised concerns about the potential for future development on the site, councillors ultimately seemed to agree that it wasn’t the most desirable location for residential development.
“Your light gets cut off there at like two o’clock in the afternoon. It’s dark. It’s not a desirable place to live and the further up that mountain you go the less light you get,” said Cosbey. “So yeah, we could develop that, but I think the development potential is really low.”
In the end, all councillors were in favour of having city staff draft a bylaw to amend the OCP, designating some of the city’s land and Bell’s land as a park and including language that will support the addition of other parcels in the future.
“Your direction now would direct me to draft a bylaw amendment where I would likely draw lines where I think the best developable areas of that Lot 24 are,” Stacey Lightbourne, city planner, explained before council’s voted.
The process for amending the bylaw will include future opportunities for public input.
Council adopts Healthy Communities Plan
After hearing from a delegation from the Lower Columbia Healthy Communities Working Group before Christmas, council voted to adopt the Lower Columbia Healthy Communities Plan on Monday.
The plan will serve as a guiding document for council — similar to the OCP and SSP.
Mayor Kathy Moore said she would like to see the plan referred to during council’s upcoming review of the SSP.
Who let the dog debate out?
After a lengthy debate on the issue, council voted against designating the city-owned land at Deer Park as off-leash.
Coun. Andy Morel then made a motion to designate Centennial Trail as an on-leash-only area, but council ultimately unanimously voted against that as well, given that all areas in the city are already supposed to be on-leash-only.
“The objections to the previous motion were that we didn’t want to open a can of worms basically because that would encourage people to wonder why we were enforcing it there and not elsewhere if everything on-leash,” Cosbey said of the Deer Park motion while voicing his objection to the Centennial Trail motion.
“I’m still not convinced that this is a problem that we need to put bylaw enforcement on,” said Moore. “For me, I don’t feel I have enough information to say that dogs are this horrendous problem out there [on the trails].”
Three short-term rental bylaws coming to public hearing.
On Tuesday, Feb. 13, there will be a public hearing to consider three city bylaws concerning short-term rentals.
The first two are to allow the use of secondary suites as a short-term rental at 2670 Columbia Ave. and 1760 Second Ave.
The third is to allow the applicant to use two rooms for short-term rental at 1983 Kirkup Ave.
Pipe Dreams will ride again
Mayor Moore and councillors John Greene, Morel, and Cosbey will once again race the council’s bobsled, Pipe Dreams, in the 2018 Sonny Samuelson Bobsled Race during Rossland Winter Carnival.