Trail is looking into the impacts of expanding its boundaries to include the Columbia Gardens industrial park area in Area A.
Council made the decision Monday after the city received a letter from Kathy Bruce, president of the Waneta Industrial Property Owners Association, on behalf of 13 light industrial or commercial owners located between Beaver Creek Park and the Waneta border crossing.
Trail council has agreed to fund such a study, awarding the project to Urban Systems Ltd. for up to a maximum of $45,000, and will create a joint evaluation committee made up of two councillors, city administrator David Perehudoff, three individuals impacted from the proposed expansion and Area A director Ali Grieve.
“Business owners approached the city to examine possible benefits of joining the city, primarily about possible taxation benefits,” said Grieve. “If I was a business owner, I would want to know the pros and cons of a possible boundary expansion; I would want to be clear on any short and long term benefits; I would want to be clear on any possible negative impacts, too.”
Trail previously looked at expanding its boundaries in a 2004 study that pointed to a municipal revenue surplus forecasted at about $280,000. But at the time, Teck sought conditions that the city’s lawyer advised Trail didn’t have authority over.
These “legal issues” are no longer a concern and the province has indicated it will support the initiative now that an amalgamation study between Trail and Warfield is on hold.
“I think, again, it will provide the opportunity to rationalize local government in the area and further in recognition of that land, the taxes right now do go to the provincial government so there isn’t specifically a local benefit,” said Perehudoff.
“When we looked at the study in 2004 it was felt that we could take that revenue and potentially reinvest it into the area in terms of improving services and infrastructure and hopefully through that see further economic development and the creation of more investment and jobs in the area, as a result of that.”
The study will be similar to an amalgamation study – focusing on property tax impacts – but will be somewhat simplified as a boundary extension process rather than an amalgamation.
It will look different this time around since Teck sold one-third interest of the Waneta Dam in 2009. The city boundaries currently stop where the strip of continuous residential lots along Highway 22 ends and the speed limit changes from 50 to 80 km/h.
“The issue of assessed values and ownership will be reviewed as part of the boundary extension process and it is my understanding that 51 per cent of the total assessed value would have to sign a petition in support of the boundary extension and this would be sufficient for the province to approve it,” said Perehudoff.