Libby Martin and Courtney Jewitt from the Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre presented the museum’s Strategic Plan and 2017 Annual Report to council. (Chelsea Novak/Rossland News)

Rossland city council sorts things out with museum

The Rossland Museum Discovery Centre has been growing its funding sources.

The Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre has been growing its funding sources, according to a report delivered to Rossland City Council at Monday night’s council meeting.

Libby Martin, president of the Rossland Historical Museum & Archives Association, and Courtney Jewitt, a trustee of the association, presented the museum’s Strategic Plan and 2017 Annual Report to council.

The annual report included attendance numbers, which were down 15 per cent from 6,839 in 2016 to 5,815 in 2017. But the museum was also closed for five months for construction on Phase I of the museum’s renewal project. Before the closure visitor numbers were on track, according to the report, and since the museum re-opened on June 30, the museum has surpassed 2016’s visitor counts for each month.

Martin was also happy to report that since 2015, when the City of Rossland’s contribution accounted for 48 per cent of the museum’s operational funding, the museum has found additional sources of funding.

“The City of Rossland’s core funding to the museum decreased last year, but we’ve managed to locate funding from other sources,” said Martin. “The city’s contribution … was 48 per cent in 2015, dropped to 31 per cent in 2016, down to 27 per cent last year and we anticipate yet another drop to 24 per cent for this season.”

Part of the City of Rossland’s contribution to the museum’s operating funding has been utility reimbursement, and Elma Hamming, manager of finance, discovered a discrepancy between how the city has been reimbursing those utilities and what the city’s agreement with the museum actually says.

A clause in the agreement with the museum reads: “The City shall be responsible for 50 per cent of the cost of providing electrical service to and heating of, the Museum buildings when the Association is in a deficit position.”

But the city has been reimbursing 50 per cent of the museum’s utilities regardless of whether or not the association was in a deficit position, according to the report Hamming submitted to council. The report also says that the museum has not been in a deficit position since September 2014 and the Museum Association would owe the city $37,672.

Hamming approached the museum about paying the city back, but the museum requested that the Fortis and city utilities from 2014 to 2019 be waived.

Coun. Aaron Cosbey motioned for council to wave the past utility fees and fees for 2018 — as the Museum Association has already prepared its 2018 budget, but to enforce the contract in 2019. The motion also stipulated that future contracts with the museum would not include any subsidy for utilities.

“I’m not in favour of going back retroactively and making them pay,” he said. “I am in favour of making them pay in future, but I think they should be paying the full utility fee in future… If we want to support the museum, we should support the museum through our grant in aid. We shouldn’t support the museum by subsidizing their utility consumption.”

The city has also been paying the museum’s water and sewer fees, which according to Hamming is not mentioned in the contract. A future contract would also specify that the Museum Association should pay water and sewer fees.

Part of the argument put forward by the Museum Association in a letter to council regarding the utility costs was that the only reason they appeared to have a surplus was that revenue for the Renewal Project was mixed in with operations revenue.

“Financial statements prior to the 2016 fiscal year did not clearly differentiate the operations revenue from the revenue specific to the Renewal Project, and therefore, it was not clear that the surpluses shown were reserves dedicated to the Renewal Project and not operational surpluses,” reads the letter.

After some debate, where Coun. Llyod McLellan and Coun. Andy Morel argued that the contract should be enforced for 2018, the motion passed.

Council also considered whether or not the Museum Association should pay the builder’s risk insurance and building permit fee for Phase I of the Renewal Project. The cost of the insurance is $2,159 and the cost of the permit is $3,003.60, for a total of $5,162.60.

“During the 2017 Capital Renewal project, the City financed the Museum project to provide cashflow support and maximize the GST Rebate for the project. The Museum Society has been repaying the City as grant revenue is advanced. During the year-end reconciliation, when the Museum Society was asked to pay for the Building Permit and Builder’s Risk insurance, they stated that they were under the assumption that the City would pay for these fees,” states Hamming’s report.

But Joelle Hodgins, museum director, attended the meeting and argued that the manager of public works had assured the museum association that they would not have to pay the building permit fee.

“To clarify, it’s not just an understanding, the public works manager guaranteed we wouldn’t have to pay the building permit. Insurance didn’t come up,” she said.

Darrin Albo, the manager of public works, was not in attendance, but Hamming said she had asked him about it and that he said: “he could not recall.”

The problem stumped council.

After several motions — including one to not waive the building insurance, but to waive the building permit fee, one to split the cost of both between the city and museum association, and one that the museum association pay the full cost of both — died on the floor, council finally passed a motion waving both fees.

“I think the thing that’s important is that going forward we have to be better in our communication,” Mayor Kathy Moore said at the end.

Council updates fireworks bylaw

At the council meeting on July 17, 2017, council asked staff to create a fireworks bylaw, but on further investigation city staff discovered that Rossland still has a fireworks bylaw on the books from 1962.

The bylaw contains outdated language and includes language regarding the use of firearms, which falls under federal jurisdiction, according to staff.

Staff recommended that council rescind the 1962 bylaw and provide further instructions on drafting a new bylaw. Alternatively, staff said council could reconfirm the 1962 bylaw, rescind it and do nothing, or rescind it and declare that the Fireworks Act applies to the City of Rossland

Council decided to rescind the motion and have staff draft a new bylaw requiring permits for display and special effects fireworks, temporarily allowing the sale of consumer fireworks and looking into whether or not other municipalities and electoral areas in the region are interested in implementing a regional ban on the sale of fireworks, and referencing the Category 2 provincial fire ban, which excludes the use of fireworks when its in effect.

Council moves forward with bylaw to ban smoking and vaping in public

Council passed the first reading of a bylaw to effectively prevent people from smoking and vaping in public places.

In the event the bylaw is adopted, people may not smoke or vape in the following areas:

• in any park, picnic area or public square;

• a playground or playing field;

• a skateboard or bike park;

• public tennis court or swimming pool lot;

• community garden;

• public trails or wetlands;

• inside or within six metres of any public building or space in which the City owns or holds an interest;

• within six metres of a building, transit stop or transit shelter where people wait

• to board public transit;

• inside a motor vehicle or equipment owned, leased or used by the City.

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