With talks surfacing on a $42-million regional project, and historic flooding in the Boundary earlier this month, Trail Mayor Mike Martin has a lot of networking to do in Eastern Canada this week.
The mayor and Coun. Lisa Pasin flew to Halifax on Tuesday for the four-day “FCM” or Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference, which lands in a different city year-to-year.
“It’s a general opportunity to learn what’s happening across the country with various municipalities,” Martin explained. “And to take in some workshops and also some study tours.”
Following Martin’s council report on Monday, an FCM study tour titled “On the waterfront: how downtown sewage treatment is changing Halifax” is of particular relevance to the region, even if it doesn’t sound appealing to most.
“I am very interested in looking at the waste treatment facility given where we are with ours right now,” Martin explained.
He gave an update on plans to upgrade the Columbia Pollution Control Centre to secondary treatment during May 28 council. First of all, Martin says costs have increased $4.5 million and now stand at $42 million with design work only 30 per cent complete.
The regional district is aiming to finalize the project in time to apply for money, likely in August, through Infrastructure Canada’s wastewater funding program.
Therein lies another issue, that being the federal government has reduced its cost-sharing portion by 10 per cent. That leaves local taxpayers on the hook to pay 27 per cent of costs instead of 17 per cent and the Province of B.C. to cover 33 per cent, like it has in the past.
“This will definitely be a point of discussion going into the fall,” added Martin.
Another FCM tour titled “Working together when every moment counts: 911 and EMO” is very timely given the recent catastrophic flooding in the region and the historic B.C. wildfire season in 2017.
“This talk will be about emergency preparedness,” Martin said. “So those are a couple of things I am looking forward to and generally, just being able to network with folks from across the country.”
The FCM describes itself as the national voice of municipal government representing 90 per cent of Canada’s municipal population. The organization was formed in 1901, and its members are from Canada’s largest cities, small urban and rural communities, and 20 provincial and territorial municipal associations.
Municipal leaders from all parts of Canada assemble annually to establish FCM policy on key issues.
The first political initiative was to convince the federal government to create legislation that would give communities more control over the actions of utility companies within their boundaries.