Board directors at the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) approved the largest budget in its history — $92.5 million — after adopting the five-year financial plan at the March 30 meeting held via Zoom.
“Our directors and staff have worked incredibly hard to develop a budget that effectively meets the needs of residents and has the capacity to deliver a vast range of improved services, wherever they live in the Kootenay Boundary,” says Linda Worley, RDKB board chair. “This year we ran a successful series of virtual town hall meetings across Areas A to E to engage the public in our budget process and give them a voice,” she adds.
“Thanks to the contributions of our federal and provincial government partners, this budget will allow us to forge ahead with much needed infrastructure upgrades, improvements, and implementation of exciting new projects.”
Together with the use of reserve funds, property and parcel taxes, and short and long term borrowing, the regional district is using a significant amount of grant funding to balance the 2022 budget.
Government grants comprise 34 per cent of revenue, equating to $31.5 million. Of this grant total, $22.8 million will be directed into the Columbia Pollution Control Centre, a regional wastewater treatment plant located in Trail.
Capital expenditures make up 51 per cent, or $47.3 million, of the budget. This includes $31 million for the start of treatment plant improvements in Trail.
Upgrades will improve wastewater treatment by adding new headworks facilities, new primary and secondary treatment systems, a new ultraviolet disinfection system, upgraded biosolids handling, and an effluent heat-recovery and reclaimed water system.
The RDKB points out that the project will also create local jobs, spending and an economic boost during and after construction. As well, improvements to the much-needed infrastructure allows for future development in the region, while lowering greenhouse gas emissions and improving water quality.
Other capital projects include the completion of the Boundary organics facility upgrade in Grand Forks, new fire apparatus in Christina Lake and rural Grand Forks, the continued development of the Food Hub in Rock Creek, and other economic development initiatives throughout the region.
Also on the horizon are two infrastructure projects associated with the continued regional development of an organics diversion program at the McKelvey Creek landfill in Trail, and the purchase of organics processing equipment.
Future projects include rolling out a green bin program at curbsides in east end neighbourhoods in 2023, enabling organics collection for 8,200 homes from Rossland to Trail and the Beaver Valley, as well as Areas A and B.
The regional district already has a very successful green bin collection program in place for 5,900+ households in the Boundary. This includes collection of everything from organics, meat scraps and dairy, to leftover pasta, rice and bread to soiled paper towels, diapers, and cat litter.
The RDKB operates over 70 services in eight municipalities and five unincorporated electoral areas, stretching from Champion Lakes in the east to Bridesville and Big White in the west and south along the Canada-U.S. border. Environmental services account for 57 per cent of the expense budget, protective and public safety services including fire, emergency preparedness, and building inspection (13 per cent), recreation and culture services (12 per cent), transportation services (four per cent), general government services (seven per cent) and development services (five per cent).
The remaining two per cent of expenses by category is municipal debt, which is a flow through process with no costs being borne by rural residents.
The 2022-2026 financial plan can be viewed on the RDKB website.