Trail council seeking update on financial impact of boundary extension

Council is at a standstill awaiting updated numbers on how the Waneta Dam expansion will impact city limits.

  • Jul. 15, 2015 9:00 a.m.

There’s millions of ways the new secondary powerhouse can effect the City of Trail’s possible boundary expansion into regional district turf.

With construction now complete, Trail council is at a momentary standstill pending updated numbers on how the $900 million Waneta Dam expansion will impact growing city limits into Area A of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.

Before making another move, Coun. Sandy Santori announced at Monday night council that Urban Systems Ltd., the Nelson firm that provided previous boundary expansion data, was hired to scrutinize current financial impacts to both Trail and the regional district.

“I think council is following through with good diligence in regard to having this last look,” explained Trail Mayor Mike Martin post the council meeting.

“To make sure that all previous financial analysis is still valid today.”

He clarified that Trail council is only partially informed being that the 2012 and 2013 Urban System statistical reports are based on data gathered well before completion of the Waneta Dam expansion.

“I think it’s incumbent upon this council given the magnitude of this decision to make sure that all these elements are well understood in how they tie together,” he said referring to the grant dollars FortisBC, Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Trust pay in lieu of taxes.

Another component current council will review is the partnering agreement between Trail and Teck Ltd. following the boundary expansion announcement made public in May 2013.

“We’ve asked Urban Systems to look at that because the agreement had some major financial implications,” he said. “One of them was a cap on Teck’s taxation, which is the biggest factor.”

Additionally, council will review the company’s proposal to contribute $1 million upfront for economic development followed by $225,000 annually (indexed for inflation) for 20 years.

“We want to look at the whole picture,” said Martin. “Not just for the next few years but we ask what this is going to look like 20 years from now.”

While most local municipalities have maintained a relatively static assessment roll the past few years, Waneta expansion construction annually upped the regional district’s assessment since the project began.

Last year the regional district’s Area A assessment roll, according to a BC Assessment news release, increased $19 million, with a current value of $829 million compared to $810 million in 2014 and $786 million the year previous.

“It would not be in our best interest to proceed further without full awareness of the financial implications for the City of Trail and Area A,” Martin concluded, noting updated data is required before entering into mitigation with the regional district.

“We are proceeding with the analysis so we can make an informed decision – but let’s first have a look at the whole picture.”

Updating the numbers will cost Trail about $18,000 and anticipated to be on city hall desks by early fall.