Development permits (DP) for four Rossland properties were denied by city council at a Monday, Aug. 9 meeting.
Following discussion at its July 12 meeting, Rossland council consulted its legal team to see if it could or could not reject the DPs of four properties on the south side of Granite Mountain, three adjacent to the Rock Cut Neighbourhood Pub and its neighbouring strata subdivision, the other one opposite Red Mountain Resort on Highway 3B and Ritchie Road.
Council agreed that the main problem with the proposals was that there were no plans to develop anything other than removing marketable trees from the property.
The legal consultation led to a deeper examination of the DP guidelines and council’s authority to accept or deny those submitted by private property owner, Warren Hamm.
“I don’t like the idea of logging on private land within the city limits,” said Coun. Janice Nightingale. “But it is private land, the applicant has met all the city’s proscribed guidelines, as a reforestation plan along with a deposit held by the city for a value of 125 per cent of the reforestation cost.
“We went and got a legal opinion because we wanted to know what would happen depending on where this went, and I don’t feel comfortable putting tax payers dollars at risk to spend more money on legal fees when we could be doing many more better things with it including things that will help reduce greenhouse gases.”
Coun. Dirk Lewis countered saying the Official Community Plan (OCP) does not support this kind of activity.
“All of the OCP is clear, the overarching theme is doing as little as possible to the environment to accommodate development, but this is not in any way like that.
“This is perhaps checking off a few forestry restriction guidelines, but this is a logging application put forward as a development permit and I will not support it.”
The forestry consultant deemed the tree removal necessary to reduce fuel load and minimize the risk of fire. The application also said that reforestation will be delayed for two years while development plans are determined. If no plan has emerged by then, the entire property will be replanted.
“When Mr. Hamm retained Cabin for this project, his instructions were that he wanted to ‘do things right’ and not just do the bare minimum required on private land,” wrote Cabin RPF Mike Crone to council.
Crone also pointed to the Forest Management Plan and that 60 per cent of the stand was comprised of Interior Douglas fir. Normally a preferred tree for retention due to wind firmness, however, the fir trees in the District Lot 640 DP had been afflicted by Armillaria root rot.
“Armillaria has already led to mortality in 20-30 per cent of the stand and will continue to spread if infected stems are retained. Armillaria can also be a major impediment to tree regeneration post harvest if not treated.”
Trees that are impacted by Armillaria are also highly susceptible to infection by Douglas-fir Bark Beetle (IBD), explained Crone.
“IBD is currently a major risk to forest health throughout the Arrow region and will continue to cause significant mortality in our Interior forests if susceptible stands are not managed to reduce spread.
“For this reason, it was determined that Douglas-fir stems should not be retained during harvesting.”
And while Crone did answer forestry concerns, the lack of actual development was the overriding issue.
Coun. Terry Miller said he is concerned about the legal implications with rejecting the proposals, but added: “I just don’t see the intent behind it other than logging … It feels like a treacherous slope we’re on, but those trees once cut are gone and we can never get them back, and I’m willing to put some of those tax payers dollars on the line to explore any other options.”
City staff reminded council that Hamm’s applications only had to follow development permit guidelines.
Coun. Stewart Spooner pointed out that the DP guidelines are meant to reinforce the policies and objectives of the OCP and specifially says it must be limited to those areas that are actually being developed based on the best management practices of the City of Rossland.
“If this came with a proposal for development then it would be a completely different situation,” added Mayor Kathy Moore. “They could come in follow all our rules about that, but having it clear cut first and then come back with a development idea, maybe. It just doesn’t seem right.”
Council defeated the motion to approve all four development permits.