Trail Boundary expansion hurts valley, says director

A move to extend the City of Trail’s boundaries is a bad deal for the neighbouring Beaver Valley, says Ali Grieve.

It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

A move to extend the City of Trail’s boundaries is a bad deal for the neighbouring Beaver Valley, says the area’s regional district director, Ali Grieve.

The Silver City’s intent to act on the recommendations from the Boundary Expansion Study will remove essential revenue from the rural area’s coffers, said the Area A director, and increase the taxation level for its residents.

This week an information sheet on the issue—what has happened, why it happened, and current status—and what the Beaver Valley is looking for will be sent out to residents of the valley, said Grieve.

“What we’re all looking for … is for the Beaver Valley to remain whole. We don’t want to see anyone as winners or losers,” she said. “We’re not interested in that approach. We all know we have a great community in the Beaver Valley. We don’t want anybody to rock our boat.”

The 2012 study done by Urban Systems Ltd. looked into the finance, governance and service delivery impacts associated with including portions of the area—that runs along the Columbia River from the city side of Beaver Creek all of the way to the U.S. border—into city limits.

The study created a losing situation for all of the Beaver Valley, said Grieve, impacting Fruitvale and Montrose as well.

She noted there would be a funding shortfall with the current Beaver Valley parks service, with the report showing a potential loss of $395,000 in revenue to the Beaver Valley Parks and Recreation Function should Area A property owners—including the Trail Airport, the Columbia Gardens Industrial Park, the Waneta Dam and the adjacent lands extending from the current city boundary to the Waneta border—decide to move into city limits.

The Beaver Valley Parks and Recreation Function is a service between Fruitvale, Montrose and Area A that was re-established after regional recreation dissolved in 2009.

With the loss of the assessment base, the area would lose up to $183,449, even with revenue sharing proposed by the city.

That amount could be offset once the Waneta Dam expansion project was complete, with an additional $100,000 expected to come in.

The proposal does not sit well with either of the villages in the Beaver Valley. Fruitvale regional director Larry Gray said the proposal was a worry for the village, since it would effectively remove a needed source of revenue.

“We realize that the individual taxpayers need to look at what is in their best interests (in the industrial park), but this would mean we would have to increase taxation and that is a real concern for us,” he said.

Montrose regional director Don Duclos concurred.

Two months ago Trail city council voted to move forward with a Boundary Extension Study, a report that explored the merit and method of the City of Trail extending its corporate boundary into the unincorporated rural area south of the city known as Columbia Gardens.

City councillor Robert Cacchioni said the landowners have not made their decision, a necessary process in the boundary extension can move to the provincial stage for ratification.

“The properties owners have asked us to look at it and we have given them a proposal,” he said. “It’s ongoing and is still in negotiations.”

Trail city council indicated it might consider developing a proposal to mitigate the impact on the regional service should property owners be interested in moving forward.

Gray said the deal calls into question the effect of mitigation and what would come to pass down the road.

“If capital costs increase what happens then?” he asked. “As far as we know mitigation is for operating on a continual basis, not for arising costs.”

Teck is a significant landowner in the area with some of its facilities including the Waneta Dam, owned two-thirds by Teck, and the Waneta Reload Facilities situated in this rural area.

In 2004 it was Teck that put the expansion process on the back burner when it sought additional conditions that were contrary to city council’s legislative authority.

However, in September, 2012, Trail council received a letter from the landowners in the area asking for council to re-engage the process and embark on the study. The city’s light industrial property tax rate is currently less than the provincial rural rate, creating financial incentive for the area’s properties to enter into the city fold.

Current projections indicate revenue that would come into the city totals $749,704—money now goes to the province—while expenses total $417,113. The net surplus of expansion would generate $332,591 for the city. The city could also gain nearly $77 million in assessment base should a deal go through.

City administration was authorized by council to develop, sign and submit a proposal to the province on the expansion. The proposal will be held in until the city receives notification from the majority of the landowners in the area that they wish to proceed.

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