A long-time Rossland resident is rebooting a social media group in an attempt to engage local taxpayers.
Paul Evans is encouraging all property owners to go to Facebook and join the Rossland Ratepayers Association (RRA).
“It was a body that was historically created way back in 1903, so what we’re doing is sort of recreating it for the people of Rossland who feel they don’t have a voice,” explained Evans. “It’s been in the background for the last year but no one’s really picked up the ball with it.”
Given recent public controversy, Evans feels there’s a disconnect between the elected council and its citizens.
“Primarily what I’ve done, is just brought it to the forefront, and I’m in the process of advertising and getting everybody who is a ratepayer in Rossland to get on board with it, and just get people to question the things the city is doing, and also to agree with the things they are doing that are good.”
According to the RRA Facebook page, it is based on the Canadian Taxpayers Federation model and is “a citizens advocacy group dedicated to lower taxes, less waste and accountable government.”
“It’s not going to have a bias, per se, but just deal with the facts as it is, and give people an opportunity to talk on both sides, and bridge the gap that’s appeared.”
Evans attended the May 11, Zoom council meeting at 11 a.m., Tuesday. The “special” meeting was held to correct a mistake in construction costs of the Midtown/city hall development, which increased the price of the project by more than $550,000 and the city’s share by $83,000.
He questioned council about the decision not to hold a referendum, and why they would proceed with the Midtown affordable mixed-housing project during the pandemic, at a time when the Rossland community, especially seniors, are stressed financially.
Evans has lived in Rossland for more than 25 years, and has witnessed the loss of services over the years, and various developments intentionally targeting wealthy residents or newcomers.
As housing costs continue to rise, the average Rosslander is not only getting priced out of the market, but the ability to live in Rossland and enjoy the mountain lifestyle is becoming more difficult.
“There is a group that has formed over the years, that I would call the city of Rossland’s wealthy elite,” said Evans. “It’s all about rich people and elites, and what I’ve found is pensioners and young people coming to town are being forced out by the high taxes and even the house prices and pressure that are being placed on them.
“They’re turning a lifestyle destination, which is what it really is, into a tourist destination.”
When asked how effective an online forum could be, Evans replied: “I feel it can be effective, because we can run surveys and actually gauge the views of the population, and what we can do is hold the city and the mayor and council accountable for the decisions they are managing.
“Because, at the moment, there are a lot of question marks at what they’re doing.”