Community Comment: Rossland digs into Washington Street project

"We are excited to be moving forward with our Washington Street project."

Rossland council is having a quiet summer after our very busy spring. We are pleased with the number of things we accomplished so far in this term but it’s nice to have a bit of a break too. Rossland and Trail have met several times to discuss the recreation situation but have not yet come to any conclusions. It’s difficult to find a solution that Rossland can afford when our residential tax base already supports so many recreational facilities and programs within our own municipality. Both councils are working together to reach an agreement but there are no guarantees. However, we are all hopeful.

Rossland council’s workload will start to ramp up again soon because we will be starting our financial planning work in October instead of the traditional pattern of beginning in January. First, council will be asking for some input from the public as we go into our next strategic planning session. Watch for details soon. Our goal is to provide the best value for the taxpayers’ dollar. Rossland relies almost entirely on residential taxpayers. Without any large utilities or industrial taxpayers to help defray our expenses, its critical that we do the best we can with our very limited resources. This means we must focus on the core municipal responsibilities of roads, sewer and water before we can consider other important expenditures.

We are excited to be moving forward with our Washington Street project. This essential reconstruction of all the water and sewer utilities under Washington Street, as well as improvements on the surface, has been planned for years. Unfortunately, in 2010, when our grant applications for this work and the Columbia Avenue project were unsuccessful, this part of the project was put on hold.

Now, since we got a significant grant of over $2 million dollars from the New Build Canada, Small Communities Fund, this fall we will be busy getting the tender documents finalized for that project. Council decided to hold an Alternative Approved Process (AAP) to get elector approval for the borrowing that will be required to meet our portion of the project. Rather than holding a costly referendum on the project, the AAP is an economical way to move it forward.  If 10 per cent of the electorate do not want the City to borrow the money, then the borrowing decision will go to a referendum. Council felt confident that our community has a deep understanding of the importance of this project and thus the AAP was an appropriate and cost effective means to elicit approval as required by provincial legislation.  Some of the underground pipes are over 100 years old. If the water main breaks, it could leave up to 80 per cent of Rossland without water. City crews have been patching the line for years – it’s well past its expected life expectancy and it is hard to imagine a more urgent infrastructure project in our town at this time.

We are waiting to hear the results of other grant applications for this project and intend to apply for some additional pedestrian and cycling infrastructure grants for the bike lanes and sidewalks. If none of our applications are successful, we may need to borrow up to $4 million dollars for the project. We are still hopeful that other levels of government will recognize the critical nature of this project and provide additional support.

Other facilities owned by the City of Rossland are slated to undergo significant upgrades too. Coming up in 2016 will be the museum’s Phase 1 renovation, the library’s renewal project and the renovation of the historic Miners’ Hall. All of these projects have received some grant funding but need more money to really see the work through to completion. Next year will be busy! Many thanks to the tireless volunteer community groups who are pushing these projects forward.

Summer is flying by! It’s been hot and with smokey skies but we are lucky there have been no forest fires within our city boundaries.  Rossland has taken advantage of every grant offered to work on controlling potential forest fire fuel – mostly dead wood and dry underbrush that surrounds our city lands. The provincial grants provide the majority of funding to control these potential hazards to our security. That said, our efforts would not be enough if a fire were to get out of control. Please be very careful.

On a lighter note, if you haven’t seen the Gold Fever Follies show this year, it’s not too late but the last show will be Saturday. Don’t miss it. Each year the show is very different and the young cast members come from all over the country to hone their skills and entertain us. This year’s show is a fun romp that pokes fun at the rivalry between Trail and Rossland. Earlier this summer, I enjoyed attending the show with Mayor Mike Martin of Trail. We were able to assure the audience that we work together very well. Just last week, I saw the show again with Mayor Patricia Cecchini and over 40 Beaver Valley seniors. Everyone had a great time. The show runs daily Tuesday through Saturday 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Kathy Moore is the mayor of Rossland.

Community Comment is an opportunity for elected officials from our local municipalities to update citizens in the region on the events, plans and progress in their respective communities. Every Friday, the Trail Times will present, on a rotating basis, a submission from councils, school trustees or regional district directors.

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