Voters in Trail, Rossland and Warfield will be asked a referendum question when they cast a ballot for mayor and council this fall.
It’ll be about the East End regional sewer service all three municipalities are partners in.
Essentially, Warfield and Rossland voters will be asked if they approve the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary signing over “portions of the sewer service infrastructure” within their boundaries to the City of Rossland.
Trail voters will be asked if they approve the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary signing over “portions of the sewer service infrastructure” located in Trail proper, to the City of Trail.
What does that mean?
And, how will this affect taxpayers, if at all?
As the saying goes, “It all flows downhill.” So the Trail Times talked with Rossland Coun. Lloyd McLellan, a seasoned regional director, to clarify what electors need to understand about the referendum before voting in advanced polls or on Oct. 20, general voting day.
“When they first put it together (the regional sewer service) it was lump-summed, we paid for all the infrastructure,” he began. “For example, Rossland would pay for infrastructure from Sunningdale right to the pollution control centre, even though Trail is the sole contributor to that line.”
Another example he gave was the pump station at Red Mountain.
“Trail doesn’t want to have to pay for repairs at that pump station nor do we want to pay for repairs in the Sunningdale or Robertson Street (East Trail) pump stations,” McLellan explained.
“We have now determined that the fair and most equitable way is for each participant to pay for the section of line that they are sole contributors to. Rossland will pay for the infrastructure that services only Rossland.”
In other words, from Red Mountain right down to the boundary of Warfield, the only participant in that infrastructure is Rossland.
“Then from the boundary of Warfield to the boundary of Trail, Rossland and Warfield are in,” McLellan said. “So we will share the cost of any repair on that section.”
Modern upgrades – like flow meters – have ousted the old cost-sharing methodology.
“We’ve made some significant improvements in the service,” said McLellan. “Now we measure flows, and it’s more of a user-pay system. Rossland, for example, contributes about 20 per cent of the flow that goes to the Columbia Pollution Control Centre (treatment plant). That’s what our costs are now based on.”
Notably, if the referendum passes – the change to “sole contributor” – is administrative and doesn’t come with a cost to taxpayers.
“The referendum goes back seven years to when the sewer system was divided up,” explained Trail Coun. Robert Cacchioni, a former sewer committee chair.
“All this referendum does is give to Trail, and the other two areas, their own specific sections of the sewer line that are not shared by the other partners,” he said.
“It is important to approve this so that we could take care of our line without having to rely on the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary. This particular referendum will improve the service by allowing the City of Trail to maintain the lines to the level that the customers expect and deserve,” added Cacchioni.
“It is a simple transfer and cost to the City of Trail, I believe, is one dollar for the transfer of the line.”
The exact ballot questions are as follows:
– Do you assent to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary disposing of those portions of the sewer service infrastructure that are located within the City of Trail to the City of Trail?
– Do you assent to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary disposing of those portions of the sewer service infrastructure that are located within the City of Rossland and that portion of the sewer service infrastructure located between the boundary of the City of Rossland and the boundary of the Village of Warfield, to the City of Rossland?