The city’s living room is about to get furnished.
The three-block span of the Columbia Avenue corridor in the downtown is considered Rossland’s “living room,” so furnishing it after the major renovation that took place last summer seemed appropriate.
In fact, it would have been done last year by the contractor after the majority of the renovations were complete but weather prevented proper installation of the furniture.
And on Monday night council’s hesitation nearly delayed it again. Three motions came forward and two were defeated until a simple, straight-ahead suggestion from councillor Cary Fisher found enough support to push the project through.
Council approved a motion for a cheaper plan, to put the amenities in the downtown, something that could be realized on city streets as early as July 1.
But it was not without some debate. Council debated for over one hour on the merit of keeping the money—over $100,000—in the community and put out a request for proposals (RFP) to city artisans and craftspeople to design and build the items.
Councillor Jody Blomme pushed to keep the money local.
“My goal is to keep this money in town,” she said. “It’s just that $100,000 is a lot of money to go out of the community.”
A few unique pieces is not the goal, she said, the goal is to keep the money in the community. For example, each bench in the project could cost around $1,600, with 11 to be used in all.
Councillor Jill Spearn also wanted some local pieces, but wanted a cohesive theme overall. She suggested a few local works with the majority of the furniture pieces ordered from outside of the city.
The time factor, with summer already here, was prohibitive in getting all of the furniture made locally, a process that could take a year or more.
“I think this is the third time through on this exact same conversation and we don’t seem to be getting anywhere … but we seem to be stuck on this, ‘Yes, we want unique pieces.’ But at the same time I think we need to move forward on this street scape,” she said.
The first motion was made by councillor Kathy Moore to remove five benches out of the plan and send them out for RFP for Rossland-specific work. It was defeated after nearly 30 minutes of debate.
The Columbia/Washington revitalization project included street furniture which was left out of the final contract before the project ended.
The amenities portion of the Columbia/Washington project needed to be completed by purchasing the street furniture as presented in the original plan and displayed in the drawings submitted to and approved by city council prior to construction in 2012.
The street furniture included benches, picnic tables, bike racks, garbage and recycling bins and one mining cart.
“The installation of street furniture ensures that the downtown both appears and functions as an inviting setting to visitors and residents alike,” read a city staff report.
With a four- to 10-week period for delivery depending on the item, there was some urgency to have all items ordered in time for drier, warmer weather, city staff advised council.
A new motion was made along the same lines and was soon defeated. Spearn expressed the frustration of council at that point, almost one hour into the debate.
“It’s a tough one. I don’t disagree that we should be supporting the local economy, that’s great. But I don’t think this is the time, at this point in the project, to be free wheeling and interchanging things,” said Spearn.
“I am really at that point in the discussion where we are too little too late,” councillor Kathy Wallace added later.
Fisher moved to approve the plan as it was presented to council by staff. Since the contract was completed last fall, city staff contacted the distributors directly and received “reasonable” cost estimates, not including contract administration and installation fees, and were well within the maximum expenditure of $101,335.
There was an expected savings of approximately $13,000 to the city by directly purchasing the street furniture instead of having that portion of the project completed by the contractor.
A motion was made to approve the plan and that staff be approved to purchase the furniture.
Ninety per cent of the furniture will go in by July 1, if all items are ordered in the next week.
The proposed costs will appear in the finalized 2013 budget and will be financed as part of total project funding strategy.
A motion was also carried for city staff to look into and make a report on creating places for ashtrays in the downtown street scape.
Councillor Jill Spearn felt there was no place for people to butt out their cigarettes in the downtown, and instead were littering the city sidewalks with them.
Councillor Wallace felt since the province passed a no smoking bylaw within three metres of doorways—10 feet—that the ashtrays commonly found around doorways have disappeared.
A motion was made and carried that staff would look into placement and type of ashtray systems to put in downtown and eliminate cigarette butts on the ground.