We asked Mayor Kathy Moore to share her thoughts on what the new decade will bring to Rossland.

We asked Mayor Kathy Moore to share her thoughts on what the new decade will bring to Rossland.

Mayor Kathy Moore: planning today is helping Rossland in 2030

Here come the 2020s: Rossland News asked local leaders to gaze into the future for their communities.

Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore lays out her vision of the city over the next 10 years, looking back from 2030.

Rossland is thriving but still subject to some of the same pressures and challenges as the rest of the world.

Due to increasing issues created by climate change and conflicts, more and more people are immigrating to Canada because it continues to be a more stable, safe, secure and welcoming place to live than just about anywhere else. Due to the unrelenting property value escalation in the Lower Mainland, the Interior continues to be an attractive destination. While still relatively affordable, we have seen our property values increase too.

In Rossland the housing challenges have continued unabated. Some of the larger employers in the area have created their own solution by building employee housing. Infill has continued to be an answer to the need for more housing, thus the building trades have flourished.

While we have plenty of short-term rentals available, a number of residents have found offering long-term rental accommodation to be less of a hassle and appreciate the steady, dependable income it provides. A number of short-term rentals have reverted to long-term rentals, and that helps alleviate the housing crunch a bit.

Already at near capacity in 2020, increased population has stretched our schools to the bursting point. These pressures have caused the existing schools in town to work together for new solutions. New buildings and co-location programs have been proposed. There has been talk of building new facilities on a portion of the fields and play space at both RSS and Ecole de Sept Sommets.

Seven Summits Learning Centre has expanded too, and their international student recruitment program has added some welcome diversity to our community. Local daycares are full and even though they have expanded their spaces, still have waiting lists. Several new home-based daycare businesses have opened and are thriving.

At the other end of the age spectrum, the Regional Age Friendly program, established in 2020 with our partners, Trail and Warfield, and funded in part by the Columbia Basin Trust, has been a real benefit to the community.

The programs offered have reached many previously isolated seniors and provided a new social outlet for all. The Cycling Without Age trishaw bike program has been a hit not only with seniors and people with disabilities, but also with the volunteer “pilots” who connect with their passengers. Inter-generational learning is alive and well in Rossland.

Many new and innovative technology and metals companies have been attracted to the Lower Columbia area by the Metal Tech Alley cluster concept. Most are located in Trail, but some smaller ones have set up shop in the light industrial zone in Rossland on Cascade highway. Many of the new entrepreneurs and their employees have settled in Rossland as well as the surrounding communities. It’s exciting to see these new companies develop and flourish.

Issues surrounding e-bikes and trails have been solved. Multi-use trails continue to be a hallmark of Rossland’s recreational trail network and people are “playing nice.” Many people commute to work in Trail via the commuter bike trail that was established on the old Wagon Road.

The grant from CBT was instrumental, as was the collaboration between Rossland, Warfield and Trail. Employers have encouraged this by offering incentives for their employees to buy e-bikes (or electric vehicles) as well as providing secure parking spaces, lockers and showering facilities. The overall health of our local workforce has improved because of this new mode of transportation. More people have taken to riding e-bikes around town too. The city had to increase the number of bike racks and spaces to accommodate them.

Rossland has reduced single-use plastics almost completely. It started with the single-use plastic bag reduction bylaw adopted in 2019 but became second nature to local business people who then voluntarily switched to other more environmentally sensitive products. The need for further legislation was negated. The community cheered these improvements and remains very supportive of shopping local.

The city is well on its way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all of our facilities and fleet. We are taking our commitment to rely on 100-per-cent renewable fuels by 2050 seriously, though it continues to be a huge challenge. Over the last 10 years we have gotten significant grant money to improve the energy efficiency of all our facilities.

The new City Hall and workforce housing project on the Emcon lot was built to a high efficiency standard and is a model for other projects. Improvements to the arena have resulted in a huge reduction in energy used for its operations, as well as an increase in energy captured. The city’s fleet has seen a huge reduction in GHG emissions as we have gradually replaced old gas and diesel vehicles with newer and better technology. That new EV snow plow and grader is amazing!

We have several other electric vehicles as well as some that run on the clean fuel produced by firms such as carbon engineering who have perfected their methods for creating clean synthetic fuel from air, water and renewable power. These innovations significantly reduce the carbon footprint of transportation. It has taken an investment of course, but our transition has been well-thought out and supported in our robust asset management plan. The grants we got helped a lot too.

Rossland has been a leader in asset management planning since 2017 and the results continue to pay off by making our community more resilient to the challenges we face. The upgrades done to our water treatment plant have enabled us to absorb the increase in population without having to make further enhancements to the system. With our regional partners, Trail and Warfield, the much-needed improvements to the wastewater treatment plant were completed on time and on budget in 2025. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without the 75 per cent contribution from the federal and provincial governments.

Perhaps the fact that we have been a leader in Firesmarting our community has helped us to avoid the devastating fires that have hit so many other B.C. towns. The local efforts of neighbours voluntarily working together to reduce the risks in all of our forest-urban interface areas around town was really effective. The fires that threatened in our backcountry areas in the past decade never posed a huge threat to our town.

The innovative Hugelkultur pilot project in 2020, with a significant grant from CBT, has started a movement throughout the province. The creation of hugels (big piles of cleared brush, buried with dirt and left to decompose into mulch) has really helped reduce fire risk through the forested areas surrounding Rossland.

Not to mention the use of hugels to divert residents’ yard waste from the landfill. By creating hugels in town, no longer must our trucks and public works crews haul everything down the hill. The time, fuel and money we saved enabled us to go back to offering two seasonal clean up days — thus reducing the fire risk even more. Hugels have been a win-win-win for Rossland.

In 2030 the silly bickering between communities in the Lower Columbia has completely died out. Old rivalries were relegated to the dustbin long ago. As the whole region has prospered, more co-operation and collaboration naturally developed. All communities share their facilities without any extra surcharge. The recreation departments of Rossland and Trail work hand-in-hand to offer the best, most diverse opportunities for all residents.

Trail benefits from the increase usage of its facilities and all residents and visitors to the region benefit by having excellent programs nearby whether they be in Trail, Rossland or the Beaver Valley. Return on investment for the municipalities has improved with the increase in population, increased operational efficiency and improved management and inter-municipal cooperation. The creation of Rossland’s recreation master plan in 2022 really helped get everyone on the same page. The reward for everyone is better health and well-being.

Volunteerism in Rossland has never been higher. Various societies continue to do great things for the community. With lots of new residents, these groups have all benefited from new ideas and new energy. Through the efforts of Rossland Council for Arts and Culture we have more activities and concerts than ever before at the Miners’ Hall. The Arts Society has created an art centre and given new life to the old, disused Drill Hall. The Arena Society has worked hard and with the help of the city’s recreation department has brought more activities to the facility year-round, thus greatly improving its value to the entire community.

All of the societies and groups in town have contributed to the financial stability and lessening the costs to taxpayers for each of the facilities they support. The museum, library, daycare, arena/curling complex, Miners Hall and new reincarnation of the Drill Hall as an Arts Centre have all benefited from these dedicated volunteer groups. They are “force multipliers” and essential to the well-being of all Rosslanders.

Provincially, the government has provided local municipalities more tools to generate revenue. This has benefited communities like Rossland and Warfield who rely primarily on residential property taxes for revenue. Being able to share in revenues that have been generated by the cannabis industry as well as liquor sales, and being able to levy value-added taxes has been a real help. Other changes like making the gas tax fund permanent, and double its old size, has also enabled Rossland to do things like green our fleet more quickly.

Tourism continues to thrive too. The goal of becoming a four-season tourism destination has become a reality. The Josie is a renowned destination-wedding venue. The Prestige attracts the business and convention trade. All the local businesses benefit. Visitors continue to be attracted to our incredible outdoor activities and natural beauty. They also love that we have preserved our heritage and history.

The traveling public spends time at the museum which has completed four phases of its renovation and renewal master plan. The museum continues to be the go-to learning location for all of the local schools. Active visitors continue to find lots to do in the great outdoors.

Unfortunately, the ski season is a bit shorter and more unpredictable, but Red continues to adapt and visitors continue to ski and come in record numbers. The ski hill produces more artificial snow and that has been great for business. They have taken steps to reduce their own emissions by transitioning their groomers, chairlifts and snow making equipment away from fossil fuels. Carbon engineering technology or a similar enterprise has been instrumental in the ongoing transition.

Rossland is thriving and while some people still grouse about high taxes, most people understand the value they get from the services the city provides and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

In 2008 the community of Rossland created our first strategic sustainability plan. The vision described for 2030 was as follows:

“In 2030, Rossland is a resilient alpine community and a leader in balancing social, environmental, and economic sustainability. Celebrated for its unique cultural heritage, small-town charm and world class natural amenities. Rossland offers residents and visitors alike extensive recreational opportunities, trail networks and green spaces. The thriving diverse economy embraces innovation and entrepreneurism, and its citizens actively contribute to a welcoming vibrant community that is safe, inclusive and affordable.”

I actually wrote the fore-going vision of Rossland in 2030 before I went back and re-read the 2008 vision statement. I think we are well on track!