Plans to replace the regional sewer line and build a new river crossing are being backed up at the regional level, says Trail council.
Revisiting past proposals, huge cost divides and displacing the sewer committee chair, are delaying decisions on how Trail, Warfield, and Rossland can move forward with the shared sewer utility.
City council remains steadfast in its decision that the most cost effective way to string a sewer pipe across the Columbia River is by an aerial crossing on a pipe bridge at the south end of town.
Regional partners put a stop to the pipe/pedestrian bridge proposal after the sewer committee opted to revisit past methods that on the surface, appear to be cheaper.
Such as directing new pipe along Bay Avenue and hanging the line on the Victoria Street Bridge, or the most recent suggestion that involves suspending a sewer line along the city’s historic river wall.
No way, says Trail council, because tearing up Bay Avenue to lay new pipe would not only cause disruption to the downtown core and be a step backward in city revitalization, but the option is much more expensive than the regional district’s $2.7 million estimate.
In a report from the city’s consulting firm, redirecting the sewer line through town costs more in the neighbourhood of $6.5 million, once the line is removed from the old bridge, directed through downtown to the new bridge, then redirected back through East Trail and fed into into the regional system.
During the Monday governance and operations committee meeting (GOC), city council unanimously agreed to send a letter to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) relaying its decision that those two alternate routes were not acceptable and as owners of the Bay Avenue right-of-way, approval would have to be issued by the city.
Coun. Rick Georgetti asked the city’s administrator if Trail’s report was more accurate than the regional district’s regarding the cost estimates.
“I wouldn’t want to suggest that one firm is better than the other,” explained David Perehudoff. “Our estimate is much more detailed in terms of how it was developed and the firm was on site. Someone on the sewer committee may say there was bias to inflate the number, but that’s simply not true.”
Besides the 80-year old Esplanade river wall being of historic value to the city with significant architectural features, the city’s report states that suspending a sewer line isn’t feasible due to the existence of cracks, distress,
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scaling and unknown hydrostatic pressure behind the wall.
Next up, Trail council agreed to reduce the city’s request for $5.4 million from the sewer committee to $5 million, for costs associated with pipe bridge construction.
Additionally, council is asking for that decision by Nov. 1.
“The city is reducing its offer in the spirit of trying to reach an agreement,” Perehudoff noted, adding that the response date is preferred but if not met, doesn’t mean the Trail number is off the table.
Ensuing talks became ardent when council discussed the matter of Grace McGregor, RDKB’s board chair, taking over Trail Coun. Robert Cacchioni’s position as chair of the regional sewer committee, during the Sept. 2 regular meeting.
Trail council agreed to send a letter of concern to the RDKB boards and staff asking for a review of policies regarding McGregor’s move which it says can be viewed as an abuse of power that has further marginalized the regional sewer partners.
“Why she would want to play Henry Kissinger over this, I just don’t know,” said Cacchioni. “I don’t believe any chair of the regional district would ever assume so much control and power for any reason. “Her argument is about money, but it’s not the chair’s money, she has nothing to do with it.”
Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs said both sides will have legal opinions over McGregor’s decision, but supported the city asking the RDKB board to review its policies and improve transparency.
“It’s only been the last three years that we’ve held chairs on the committees,” said Coun. Kevin Jolly. “This is a real slap in the face to the City of Trail and to the residents of the City of Trail. They should be as upset as we are.”
The GOC culminated with one final motion that the city advise the regional district that future delays associated with selecting an option to proceed with relocating the regional sewer interceptor line off the Old Trail Bridge could result in liability for future line failures, becoming the responsibility of the entire RDKB board and not just members of the sewer committee.