New scholarship debate opens not-so-old wounds

Rossland City Council; Seven Summits Centre scholarship and new hotel at Red Mountain.

  • May. 1, 2014 7:00 p.m.

The April 28 Rossland city council meeting featured a slim agenda, with the majority of the debate occurring over “information” items. Councillors Moore, Spearn and Fisher, along with Mayor Granstrom, just rounded out quorum for the evening.

Seven Summits Centre for Learning Graduate Scholarship

The Seven Summits Centre for Learning made a request of council for a scholarship for students graduating from the program. Councillor Spearn opened the discussion in support of the request, pointing out that two scholarships of $300 and $250 are provided to JL Crowe and it is important for the community to support local schooling. She went on to note that it is a growing program that allows parents to keep their children in Rossland. A value of $200 for one scholarship was suggested.

Councillor Fisher disagreed, stating that the Seven Summits centre has only two students and the support would be greatly disproportional compared to the number of students at Crowe. Fisher’s own two children attend the Trail school and he attested to their contentment and success there. He felt that the size of the financial gift to Seven Summits would be unfair, and voted against the resolution.

Councillor Moore countered that it is important for parents and students to have choice in where education takes place, and that the school has become a huge draw for the community. She noted that the ski academy was highly successful and brought dozens of international students into Rossland.

Mayor Granstrom, while abstaining from the vote, noted that supporting independent schools may be dangerous territory. Independent schools, he stated, draw funding away from public schooling, hurting the majority of the community’s children. He cautioned against encouraging people to send their children outside of the public schooling umbrella.

After a vote of 2-1 in favour of the scholarship, Councillor Spearn sought to redirect funding blame away from the Seven Summits Centre for Learning. “It was the school board trustees who “shot themselves in the foot”, she stated, “by sending Grades 10-12 down the hill despite heated opposition from the community. In seeking $140,000, they incurred a loss of $750,000, and are the main reason funds are disappearing from the public school system in SD20.” She reiterated that having K-12 options in Rossland is important for families staying in the city and for long-term sustainability.

New Hotel at Red Mountain

A motion to approve a development permit for the Red Mountain Hotel passed unanimously, with conditions about environmental sustainability and aesthetics imbedded in the resolution. The new hotel, a venture of Texan investors, is destined for the upper parking lot on Red Mountain.

Councillor Spearn expressed concern over loss of parking space for skiers, to which staff replied that Red Mountain Resort, and not the hotel developer, would be responsible to meet those requirements based on the carrying capacity of the hill. The understanding appeared to be that new lots would be built across the highway from the current parking area.

Roads and pedestrian pathways would also need to be reconfigured to allow vehicle access to the hotel and ensure skier access to the hill from lower lots. Councillor Spearn also wondered aloud if the placement of the hotel would create a divide between locals and urban vacationers, giving prime access to an “elite” consumer, but no further concerns were raised.


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