A former city councillor is concerned that potential development of land in front of Trail’s sewage treatment plant will endanger Bear Creek Well.
“It is my advice to you that some very resistive covenants must be placed on the existing title while the city still owns it to protect the future needs of the people,” said Norm Gabana at this month’s city council meeting.
The Trail resident is referring to a recent transaction in the works where the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary sold a 1.32-acre lot to the City of Trail last month in hopes of providing further economic opportunity.
Trail already owns over two acres of nearby land that is currently leased by AM Ford.
“We do recognize the conflict with the well and the development so we have to make sure that we’re safe guarding the city in terms of the future use and capacity of that well,” agreed city administrator David Perehudoff.
But Gabana fears that if the property is developed on a large scale, construction could pose risk of contaminating the city’s water.
Though he shared some concerns, the city moved forward with the third reading to amend the zoning of this newly purchased land to highway commercial.
“The city owns the land so we have the capacity to protect it,” said Perehudoff.
“And the zoning is consistent with everything that’s going on around there so from a planning perspective, it’s not out of line with respect to the mall and other commercial development in that area.”
The well has been in operation since 1981 and pumps water from an aquifer to Glenmerry, Waneta, and Green Gables reservoirs that service Shavers Bench, Miral Heights, Glenmerry and Waneta, about one-third of Trail’s water demands.
Located between AM Ford Plus and the city-operated RV park, Bear Creek also acts as a secondary source of water should there ever be an issue with the water treatment plant. The property along the highway has been identified as a prime location and the city has been working toward freeing up some land for development.
The sale of the buffer land will now expand the footprint of the city-owned property to about four acres.
Trail is acquiring the property at a market value cost but the amount has not been disclosed, as both parties address the technical and legal issues associated with completing the transaction.
The property will need to be subdivided, appraised and rezoned as part of transferring the title and making it ready for any future development opportunities.
“Hopefully it will be a substantial commercial development that will compliment what’s going on there now,” said Perehudoff, looking to the future. “We’re trying to sort of increase the traffic and reasons to come to Trail.”
The city has yet to announce if there has already been interest from a company to set up a retail outlet on that property, as it doesn’t want to jeopardize any future agreement.
Gabana does not view this in good light, after attempting to find out more about this transaction through the Freedom of Information Act.
“The secrecy around this land consolidation and zoning is beyond my comprehension,” he told council.
However, provisions in the community charter direct council to deal with areas like land and development “in camera.”
“We did the Wal-Mart development a few years ago with Canadian Tire that demonstrated, while there was a lot of opposition at that time, it did turn out to be a fairly successful development and has created a lot of economic spin-off as a result,” said Perehudoff. “We want to make it is more desirable for a company to say, ‘There is a lot happening here, let’s get our retail business in there as well.’”