Company No. 1’s fire hall in Rossland. (File photo)

Rossland Council releases fire service task force report

Rossland City Council publicly released the final report to review fire service in Rossland.

Rossland City Council publicly released the final report written by a task force formed to review fire service in Rossland.

The goal of the Fire and Emergency Services Review Task Force was “to review the existing fire and emergency services delivered to the City by the RDKB [Regional District of Kootenay Boundary] through the Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue (KBRFR) and to research other possible alternative service delivery models of providing a similarly-scaled service while ensuring the future safety of our community was sustained.”

In its final report, publicly released Friday, the task force offered three possible avenues for moving forward:

1. That the City of Rossland remain with the KBRFR with an eye towards improving coverage levels and getting an “aerial apparatus” for Rossland. The task force also suggested pursuing a system analysis with the goal of addressing coverage and response times.

2. That the City of Rossland negotiate to contract service delivery with KBRFR at a set cost over a fixed period, based on the cost of operating an independent hall, which the task force suggested would be approximately $500,000 per year.

3. That Rossland open an independent hall. The task force estimated the start up cost for a new hall would be approximately $3.05 million, but suggested that if the City of Rossland was compensated for its share of the KBRFR’s asset value, that would account for $1.2 million.

But asked for comment, Mayor Kathy Moore said city council is unlikely to pursue the third option.

“We wanted to see what else was out there. Is there another way that we could handle fire service that could be more affordable? And we wanted the regional district to know that this was a big concern for us, but we are a partner among other partners, so for any real changes to happen, the rest of the partners would have to also be concerned about this. And if nobody else is, they’re not going to make any changes,” she explained. “And that would mean the only change we could make was to pull out of the service entirely, and we don’t want to do that.”

Council has had the report for almost a year, but kept the report in camera so that the RDKB would have time to review it before the report was made public. It was forwarded to the RDKB for discussion at the East End Services Committee, according to Friday’s release.

“What we were hoping was the regional district would take it and they would come back with a bunch of cost reducing ideas of their own, or based on some of the things we were suggesting in here, and make some changes to the service, but we gave it to them a year ago September,” said Moore.

The final report can be read at rossland.ca/news-release-fire-service-task-force.

Report Fire Service Task Force Final Report News Release 2017-07-31 by Chelsea April Novak on Scribd

Changes to Official Community Plan

At a special meeting of council held Monday morning, city council also discussed three changes it would like to make to the City of Rossland’s Official Community Plan (OCP).

The first puts both traditional B&Bs and AirBnbs under the umbrella of short-term rentals and then lays out the criteria council should use when considering short-term rental applications.

The second makes it so that city council can now consider temporary-use permits for any zone within the city and also lays out the criteria council should use when considering temporary use permit applications.

Mayor Moore explained that the change was made so that council could allow Rossland Search and Rescue to place a trailer on city property.

The final change was to remove the section of the Red Mountain Sector Plan that prohibits ground disposal of sewage. According to the report provided to council by city staff, “this statement is already contained (and is more appropriate) within the zoning bylaw. If a development proposal did not wish to comply with this regulation, then a development variance permit would be required.”

Red Mountain Resort put in an application for such a permit so that it can install new washrooms at Paradise Lodge. That permit was approved at the same meeting, on the condition that the septic field is monitored during every winter season.

Moore said that the amendments to the OCP were passed as written in the meeting agenda, but only because she forgot to make her own amendment.

“I still wanted us to have some prohibitions about ground disposal in the watershed, because right now you’d have to have a variance permit to do it and no one would probably give you a variance to do it, but I think it’s really important that we’re quite specific,” she said.

Moore says she will suggest the amendment when council does third reading of the OCP changes.

The public is invited to speak to these changes at a public meeting on Monday, Aug. 14. The meeting is expected to start at 6 p.m. Watch the City of Rossland website for any changes.

Should Rossland take the stairs?

City council also received a verbal update on the Spokane Street and Leroi Avenue construction and staff proposed a potentially controversial change to Leroi, according to Moore.

Staff’s suggested taking out the stairs from Leroi Avenue to Lower Rossland, as the sidewalk currently under construction will allow pedestrians access between the same points, and also proposed fixing up the trail behind Ferraro’s.

“Basically the staff position was, well, right now we spend $2,000 a year on operations and maintenance (O&M) costs on the staircase, but it’s in our five-year plan, and I think it’s due next year, to be replaced for $100,000,” explained Moore.

As construction is underway, and council will need to make a decision at the next meeting on Aug. 14. The public is encouraged to share their view with council by email at cityhall@rossland.ca or by dropping a letter off at City Hall.

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