The regional sewer service arbitration could be flushed by the end of the year as the province has chosen an arbitrator in the dispute between the cities of Trail and Rossland.
Jerry Lucas of Borden Ladner and Gervais out of Vancouver has been chosen to mend the fence between the Silver and Golden cities, and come up with a funding formula that is fair and equitable for both parties.
The process will be underway right away, Trail chief administrative officer David Perehudoff told council last week, and the arbitrator has indicated he will be in touch with the parties directly.
“We hope it will be resolved this year,” said Perehudoff.
The game goes on, said Mayor Dieter Bogs, for a dispute that extends back to 2008.
For four years the question of who pays what portion of the cost of sewer service among Trail, Rossland and Warfield has been booted around like a political football.
Trail currently pays close to 70 per cent of the regional budget following a formula created in the late 1960s, based mostly on population and projected growth.
In early April Rossland council dismissed an eleventh-hour attempt from Trail to avoid arbitration. Trail council had drafted a cost sharing proposal based on population, though it previously agreed with a mediator report that suggested the old formula was unfair, and a new formula should be based on 50 per cent population and 50 per cent water consumption.
The legal price for the process is expected to outweigh the cost difference quoted in the proposal—around $20,000.
A Sept. 25 letter from Trail’s lawyers, Young Anderson, said the city disagreed with Rossland’s contention of the validity of the legislative process, and served notice “that any further delay in this legislative process has a direct financial impact” on Trail’s residents, and was inconsistent with the overall public interest.
The Vancouver-based firm asked Rossland to challenge the legislative process immediately if they intended to do so.
Lois-Leah Goodwin, executive director of Intergovernmental Relations and Planning under the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, had been appointed as the dispute resolution officer in August to help settle the matter of who pays for what in the delivery of regional sewer service between Trail, Rossland and Warfield.
Goodwin was required to review the matter and, under the Community Charter, direct the dispute to binding arbitration.
Trail city council had notified the province in late May it wanted to engage in the process of arbitration with the City of Rossland to determine the correct percentages of shared costs for sewage service in the Greater Trail region.