Today marks the first opportunity for all Trail voters to have an official say in the matter of a second crossing over the Columbia River.
Voting booths are open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. in the Trail Memorial Centre for advance voting on the city’s loan authorization bylaw that, if adopted, allows Trail to borrowed almost $5 million to build a 300-metre (1,000-foot) walkway upstream from the Old Trail Bridge.
Polling stations are located in the McIntyre Room today and Aug. 20 for advance voting before general voting day on Aug. 23.
Trail residents who are eligible to vote but are not on the provincial voters list can register at the time of voting by producing two pieces of identification, one with a signature and proof of residency and identity, confirmed Chief Elections Officer, Michelle McIsaac.
The ballot question is specific and asks Trail electorates, “Are you in favour of the City of Trail enacting Bylaw No. 2775 authorizing construction and borrowing of $4,916,000 so that the sewer pipe bridge proposed by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary can also include a pedestrian walkway, water main line and fibre optic conduit?”
That’s a mouthful. But if the popular vote is ‘Yes” then the city can proceed to borrow sufficient funds to construct a footpath and hitch new utilities on a new pipeline in a joint venture with sewer partners in Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB).
If the majority of Trail voters say ‘No’, then it’s back to the drawing board and a regression to the state-of-affairs when the walking bridge proposal first began in 2011, according to Trail Coun., RDKB director, and Acting Mayor Robert Cacchioni.
“If the referendum fails, then that’s it,” said Cacchioni. “It’s final. We (regional sewer committee) will have to go back to where we were two years ago and explore the options we have already explored and dismissed.”
To date, about $500,000 in engineering costs have been invested into the aerial sewer option.
After years of back-and-forth between Rossland, Warfield and Trail, the regional sewer partners deemed this choice the most cost effective and environmentally responsible way to pump liquid waste across the Columbia River.
If the referendum fails, then an entirely new set of possibilities are in play, explained Cacchioni, adding that means a new agreement between the three parties and Area B would have to be reached.
“This option is the one with the least risk,” he added. “All the other options have tremendous risks both environmentally and financially.”
The RDKB considered an aerial crossing option as its main focus moving forward in dealing with replacing the current regional sewer crossing on the Old Trail Bridge, said Bryan Teasdale, the regional district’s manager of infrastructure and sustainability.
The regional district sewer committee authorized staff to proceed with the review of the pipe bridge crossing prior to the city’s advancement of the proposed pedestrian crossing, he explained.
Teasdale said the RDKB originally approached the City of Trail to review the possibility of partnering on some type of multi-use crossing in this location.
“The city took us up on this offer in order to hopefully reduce their costs of any new crossing option in this location that we expect would be a benefit for the entire region.”
At this time, the pipe bridge crossing is considered the best option for relocating the regional interceptor without causing major upgrades to the current Murray Park Lift Station, Teasdale continued, noting that because the pedestrian walkway is planned for the same area as a pipe bridge crossing future daily operations of that life station would not be adversely affected or modified.
“We are still gathering relevant information for completing this project,” continued Teasdale. “As costs have yet to be approved by either the RDKB Sewer Committee and the board of directors.”