In December 2010, the City of Rossland used the ‘Alternative Referendum Process’ to approve borrowing up to $6 Million to upgrade the infrastructure and redesign the streetscape of Columbia Avenue and Washington Streets.
The residents of Rossland were not informed by Newsletter or any other media that this was going to happen except for an ad in the Trail Times. Twenty people saw and registered a vote at City Hall, giving the City the mandate to go ahead, a subversive process at best. The City has engaged ISL Engineering to design and coordinate this project.
Beginning in March 2012, the Ministry of Transportation (MOT) will be resurfacing Highway 3B including Rossland’s Columbia Avenue, the business section of Rossland.
The City is proposing to upgrade the aging infrastructure, probably a good idea. MOT will contribute $1.4 Million; the City is responsible for the balance of $7.4 Million with the option (Phase III) of adding another $326,000 for additional amenities. This project will take eight months.
Phase I: Resurface Columbia Avenue, put in new water/sewer/rainwater lines, considerably widen the sidewalks, add new bump-outs and enlarge the existing ones, provide 3 designated crosswalks, add additional lighting, flower boxes, street furniture, etc.
Look on the City website under City Services – the design is beautiful. The problem is that by widening the sidewalks and adding large bump-outs, the angle parking along the north side of Columbia between Washington and Queen Streets will be changed to parallel parking along the busiest block in Rossland. In fact, parking spaces between Spokane and St. Paul Streets (the 3 main blocks of the business section of Rossland) will be reduced by a total of 36 parking spaces!
Optional parking has been planned; the City has recently purchased the empty lot behind the Hardware Store and other off-street parking is being offered, all away from the main street. Some of this space is already being used for parking. In addition, most of the mature trees along Columbia will be lost to this process. Now I’m not so sure about all of this.
Phase II: Reconstruct and replace existing infrastructure along Washington Street to the intersection at Plewman Way, replacing old pipes and upgrading the lines for future development at Red Mountain, re-profiling the street and additional streetscape enhancement. The City is responsible for all of these costs although part of this should be paid for with Development Cost Charges (DCC’s). Some recently replaced piping will be bypassed.
My question is, will Council approve this process within the next few weeks whether or not the City receives the grants for which they have applied?
The ISL consultant recently said that ‘this (project) could be a legacy of the current council’. This will also be a legacy of increased taxation for Rossland residents, something like $300-$500/year/residence for the next 20 years.
I urge that Council not adopt any plan that reduces parking along Columbia Avenue; parking is critical now during busy periods.
How many Councillors promised to keep taxation down when they were elected?
If grants are not forthcoming, I further urge Council to only replace the old infrastructure along Columbia Avenue and leave the rest of this project until there is more development at Red Mountain and economic times improve.
After all, it is one of Rossland’s goals to encourage low cost housing and this doesn’t work with increased taxation.