The Community Events sign at the corner of Columbia Ave. and St. Paul Street has been a focal point for community groups and a means to announce upcoming events and activities in Rossland.
It was also the site of some contention over the past year, and in light of the fallout from the COVID pandemic, the city reconsidered its policy.
City staff recommended that council amend the Review Process, Requirements and Procedures section to include, “City staff are permitted to post relevant messages on the Community Event Sign for any Provincially or Federally declared health emergencies, without charge/revenue,” – and without consulting council.
The sign is generally reserved online by non-profits and civic groups that promote community events and activities for $50 per week.
Mayor Kathy Moore took the opportunity to put forth three additional amendments that would ensure it include local groups as well as those that operate within the city, enable certain groups to have the fee waived, and clarify emergency protocol.
Moore’s first amendment was passed unanimously by council, however, her second amendment to give council authority to waive the rental fee fizzled.
“It’s a really great mechanism to communicate with the community, and it does a disservice to the community to make it so narrow,” said Moore.
“A group like Mom’s Stop the Harm that has no budget and no money, makes sense, a different group that has a budget, we’d probably say no.”
Staff informed council that the fee was also part of the city’s Fees and Charges bylaw, which would also need to be amended before it could be applied.
Council defeated the motion to waive rental fees.
Mayor Moore’s third suggestion asked that council be consulted before a message was installed, however, it also met with opposition.
“In an emergency situation, why even come to council over it,” rebutted Coun. Stewart Spooner.
“Can’t we just say in an emergency situation … we shouldn’t be calling a special meeting of council just to deal with a sign.”
Coun. Janice Nightingale amended the suggestion by clarifying that “City staff are permitted to post relevant messages on the Community Event sign for any municipal, regional, provincial, or federally declared emergency without charge or revenue.”
The devil is in the details, and the major difference from the original is that the amendment deleted “health” from emergencies and added municipal and regional authorities to the policy.
Council passed the amended sign policy, as well as those for the Community Contributor Award, Information to the Media, and the Utility Water Leak Adjustment.