The city’s sanitary sewer dispute is sinking into provincial scrutiny with the appointment of a dispute resolution officer.
Lois-Leah Goodwin, executive director of Intergovernmental Relations and Planning under the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, has been appointed as the dispute resolution officer to help settle the matter of who pays for what in the delivery of regional sewer service between Trail, Rossland and Warfield.
Goodwin is required to now review the matter and, under the Community Charter, direct the dispute to binding arbitration.
“(I will) consider if the dispute should be directed to mediation or another non-binding resolution process,” she said in a letter to Trail council June 5.
Goodwin will be concluding her review and be in a position to provide direction on the next steps in the process in mid June.
Trail city council had notified the province in late May it wanted to engage in the process of arbitration with the City of Rossland to determine the correct percentages of shared costs for sewage service in the Greater Trail region.
For four years the question of who pays what portion of the cost of sewer service among Trail, Rossland and Warfield has been booted around like a political football.
Trail currently pays close to 70 per cent of the regional budget following a formula created in the late 1960s, based mostly on population and projected growth.
In early April Rossland council dismissed an eleventh-hour attempt from Trail to avoid arbitration. Trail council had drafted a cost sharing proposal based on population, though it previously agreed with a mediator report that suggested the old formula was unfair, and a new formula should be based on 50 per cent population and 50 per cent water consumption.
The legal price for the process is expected to outweigh the cost difference quoted in the proposal—around $20,000.