At Tuesday night’s annual general meeting for the Rossland Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Greg Granstrom took the opportunity to talk informally with businesses about what they thought of the Columbia-Washington infrastructure project.
While there were concerns, the underlying feeling of the business owners at the meeting didn’t seem to be one of panic.
Granstrom said the city expects some sort of confirmation on the grants that it applied for sometime between now and Christmas.
“What the City of Rossland does know is that of the 158 grants that were put out there were 51 approved, so one third of the grants that were put out there were approved.”
Granstrom explained that some of the “funky” designs in the plan were put there to help lift the city above other proposals, things like heated sidewalks and a water tank uses storm water for irrigation.
This was because the grants were based on innovation.
The mayor said that just because the grants have been sent out, doesn’t mean the plans for the town are written in stone.
“The first goal is to get the money,” he said, then they can make adjustments as needed to the design.
Granstrom said if the city doesn’t get the money, it will still have to do the piping.
“We have to,” he said, alluding to a city staff report showing the lead joints of the pipes failing on some of the century-old pipes.
“The water line that comes down Washington was put in in 1905,” he said. “So we obviously have to do it.”
The other thing they need to do is the infrastructure under Columbia prior to it being paved by the Ministry of Transportation at the end of the summer.
The changeable component is the streetscape, where Granstrom said the tension lies.
“Nothing’s written in stone here, if at the end of the day, the people of Rossland don’t want parallel parking, wider sidewalks or whatever, it won’t get done,” he said.
Kelvin Saldern said the city is being too hard on itself.
“From what I’ve seen is the city has done a great job of communications,” Saldern said, noting the charets and other opportunities the city has given for citizens and businesses to voice their opinion.
He said the problem is likely people aren’t paying attention, since he’s heard people asking questions or saying they hadn’t heard about a part of the proposal, but didn’t see many people at the charets.
“You can’t point fingers at the mayor or council or staff, who are working really hard to get this information out,” he said.
Granstrom said that’s how it always goes, people get much more involved when it gets close to crunch time.
“We could have started having sessions on this twenty years ago and no one would have been there until two days before it happened,” he said. “That’s not a criticism, that’s just a fact.”
Another concern was that at the Dec. 5 council meeting ISL engineering, the firm that is planning the streetscape project, said that they had got almost unanimous approval of businesses.
At council on Monday, councillors heard Paul Allen speak on his concerns during the opportunity for members of the public to speak. Allen was also concerned about the statements that ISL’s Ed Kolla had made in the prior week’s council meeting.
Allan said that he had gone to the businesses in question and asked what they thought. He stated that he had received negative responses from most of the businesses.
He said of the 12 businesses he spoke with on the North side of Columbia, all were against parrallel parking.
Allen will likely be back with a deligation, as he didn’t make it through his presentation in the alloted time.
The mayor asked that he return as a deligation in a future meeting.