Council upset at RDKB for refusal to help fund expansion study

Trail council made it clear at Tuesday’s meeting it is disappointed that the regional district didn’t pony up funding for a study that will look at expanding city boundaries.

Trail council made it clear at Tuesday’s meeting it is disappointed that the regional district didn’t pony up funding for a study that will look at expanding city boundaries.

The city asked the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary to provide $5,000 toward the $45,000 study that will investigate tax impacts of including the Columbia Gardens industrial park in Area A into city limits.

This came after Trail council received a request 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.

“I thought it would be a better choice to have two studies because Area A businesses could then decide to stay in the Beaver Valley (Area A, Montrose and Fruitvale) or in Trail, but they need that information to make an informed decision,” said Trail councillor Fred Romano, who was the only member on the regional board to vote in favour of funding the study.

Fellow Trail councillor Al Graham agreed with his reasoning, adding that it’s government’s responsibility to provide enough information for its residents and business owners to make informed decisions.

“What we’re seeing in a large part are elected officials going to great lengths to keep the public from becoming informed as to what their options are and that flies in the face of the accountability and the transparency of local government and I think it’s wrong,” he said.

Regional administrator John MacLean said the board declined the request because it recognized the industrial park properties are a vital part of the work being done in the Beaver Valley governance study, which is ongoing.

The expansion study will continue, regardless.

The city is currently working with Urban Systems to finalize the terms of reference, schedule and budget. Unlike an amalgamation study, the city would only need an agreement from the 13 owners rather than a response form the rest of Trail residents.

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.

A call to Kathy Bruce was not returned by press time Wednesday.