There will be no federal or provincial money flowing into the regional district for much needed upgrades at the sewer treatment plant, at least in the foreseeable future.
Zero financial backing means there’s a stopper in the $52-million project.
The official rejection letter landed in the mailbox of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary a few weeks ago, confirming the Columbia Pollution Control Centre improvements were not selected for funding under the ICIP (Investing in Infrastructure Canada) Environment Quality Program.
After so much time, detail, and money invested into the application, this news is a blow for taxpayers living in the service region, says a longtime Trail politician.
Furthermore, Coun. Robert Cacchioni worries that with a federal election now underway, the future of government grant opportunities is an unknown.
For the past several years, as regional director, he has been part of discussions and the planning process for upgrading from primary to secondary treatment.
Just getting to this point has been a lot of work, so to put it mildly, Cacchioni says the rejection letter was an utter letdown.
“I am disappointed in the response because after meeting with our MLA (Minister Katrine Conroy) and our MP (Richard Cannings) I was expecting a response from not only the minister in Victoria but also from the minister in Ottawa,” Cacchioni stressed.
“This project is critical to protect international waters and, of course, this is the last (treatment plant) in British Columbia sending primary treatment sewage into freshwater.”
He says the regional district has spent more than $1.5 million getting ready for this project over the past seven years.
“With this delay, the cost will certainly escalate,” he said. “And we may be in a position so that municipal councils may find the cost prohibitive.”
But Cacchioni says he’s not taking this news lying down.
“I intend to try to meet with the provincial minister at the UBCM,” he explained.
“The cost has gone up about $2 million per year and any delay will, of course, increase the final cost and even the feasibility of the project.”
The Union of BC Municipalities, or UBCM, will be held in Vancouver next week. The annual conference provides an opportunity for local governments of all sizes and from all areas of the province to come together, share their experiences and take a united position through policy making.
The event also allows local government representatives to meet with peers, ministerial heads, and provincial leaders.
The Columbia Pollution Control Centre is a primary treatment plant for Trail, Rossland, and Warfield, discharging disinfected effluent into the Columbia River.