City takes umbrage over Fortis move

Still waters are running deeper after a FortisBC announcement of a new $16 million West Kootenay Operations Centre in Ootischenia.

Still waters are running deeper after a FortisBC announcement of a new $16 million West Kootenay Operations Centre in Ootischenia made waves in Trail City council.

Council met with FortisBC officials Monday at City Hall on the matter to indicate their unhappiness on the process and not involve and inform communities like Trail as they went along and made the decision to choose Ootischenia.

Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs said the company made the announcement over one week ago during Castlegar’s regular city council meeting, a move that caught them by surprise.

“However, we were particularly unhappy with the process of not involving, informing council, and possibly even giving us an opportunity to put something on the table,” he said. “We never had any knowledge of this (move). We think this is totally inappropriate.”

Although FortisBC “got the message” from council, Bogs was not optimistic anything could be done to persuade them to consider the Greater Trail region for location of the new facility.

“The decision has been made and it will be in Castlegar,” he said. “But this will have a rate effect.”

Since FortisBC is a utility corporation they will still need to gain approval from the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC), and be further required to hold a public open house (in Castlegar on Aug. 29).

The property that FortisBC is looking at for the operations centre is in Ootischenia and was originally acquired as a prospective site of the new West Kootenay Regional Hospital.

However, Bogs said a conversation with an Interior Health Authority official after the announcement solidified the future of Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail.

“I suspect the hospital will be here for a long, long time from my perspective,” he said.

Two years ago FortisBC had been in conversation with the City of Trail over moving its regional operations centre. At that time the number of jobs being moved was 60.

The new centre is expected to house approximately 160 to 180 jobs, including the existing jobs that will transfer over from the existing Castlegar facility.

“It is a completely different operation now,” he said.

There was some speculation amongst local politicians that jobs could be pulled from the surrounding region to reside in the new Castlegar operations centre, including Montrose, Trail and Slocan Lake.