City to gauge public’s appetite for integrated facility

Referendum will determine fate of proposed library/museum building.

A new library/museum integrated facility will cost the average homeowner an additional $81 in annual taxes, according to a report presented to Trail city council this week.

The city looks to borrow nearly $6.3 million for the “Trail Riverfront Centre,” an 18,000-square foot structure slated for the former Eagles property at the south end of downtown.

Concept plans and a construction and operating budget were introduced in council chambers Monday.

“The city is trying to present a sort of modern structure and trying to tie in the location as far it being the gateway to the Esplanade, with some emphasis on the river,” said David Perehudoff, Trail’s chief administrative officer.

But whether or not the project breaks ground is up to the voting public, who will be asked whether they support it through referendum at the upcoming municipal election in November.

The price tag doesn’t include approximately $760,000 for debt payment over the course of 25 years, additional operating costs for both facilities and anticipated loss in revenue if and when the library and museum move out of their current locations.

In the meantime, the city in conjunction with the Trail and District Public Library and the Trail Historical Society is meeting this week to discuss future consultation plans to engage the public in discussion and to get feedback before the final proposal is introduced.

“On Friday, Barbara Gibson, Jamie Forbes and myself meet to start discussing the Public Awareness Campaign,” confirmed Andrea Jolly, the city’s communications and events coordinator.

“Our goal is to inform the public on various aspects of the proposed facility, including the features and benefits of the facility for all demographics, what it means to the taxpayer and what to expect on voting day.”

This group will also look at grant opportunities or potential fundraising initiatives to lower the price tag, said Perehudoff, who estimates an average homeowner (with an approximate $181,000 assessed property value) would pay more like $70 or about $10 less annually for every million dollars secured through outside sources.

This isn’t the first time an appetite for such a facility has been gauged. In 2001, residents were asked whether they supported a civic centre that would have housed not only the library and museum but city hall and the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce.

But the vote was swayed when Teck came out in opposition due to financial reasons and opponents took a strong stance against the proposed project, recalled Perehudoff.

Trail creates a capital plan each year that looks at its capacity to fund projects directly or through borrowing. A recent big ticket item included the purchase of the Trail Regional Airport for $1.28 million from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary. A future foot bridge is also being slated for the west end of Rotary Park, near the Groutage Avenue parking lot, and crossing over the Columbia River to the intersection of McQuarrie Street and Columbia Avenue in East Trail.

“The beauty of that project is the regional district of course is going to be funding their portion for the pipe bridge, which has to get done, and with respect to gas tax revenue and council determining to allocate that to debt payment (with no tax impact), hopefully people will support it,” said Perehudoff. “When we did the recreation master plan there was high support for a pedestrian crossing; People are pretty keen on having the ability to do the walk of the river.”

The cost of the bridge should be introduced in council chambers this month, at which time 10 per cent of the electorate would have the opportunity to petition against the bylaw or it would proceed without an actual referendum.

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