Trail, Warfield & Rossland: New regional sewer proposal aims to avoid costly arbitration

City of Trail makes one last attempt to come to an agreement with Rossland and Warfield over regional sewer apportionment

Trail has flushed its preferred solution to regional sewer cost apportionment in hopes of solidifying a deal with its partners.

The city has taken one last plunge at coming to an agreement with Warfield and Rossland on a matter that has been under dispute since 2008 in hopes of avoiding arbitration.

Trail has drafted a proposal based on population though it previously agreed with a mediator report that suggested a new formula should be based on 50 per cent population and 50 per cent water consumption.

“We’ve made one last attempt to try to get this resolved,” said Trail councillor Robert Cacchioni. “That way we can do two things. One, we can put this thing to bed about conflicts between communities and at least show that we’re rational human beings and come to some sort of agreement and two, we can eliminate the cost of arbitration.”

The city awaits a response from its partners after following up an adhoc meeting with a signed proposal in writing.

“At this point I’m just hopeful that we can get together and have a discussion, to me that’s the place to start,” said Rossland councillor Kathy Wallace, who sits on the regional board. “Binding arbitration could be very expensive and we may still not see any real resolve come out of it so I don’t see that as a good approach to dealing with the situation.”

Wallace said Rossland’s last counterproposal, which was not reported by consultant George Paul of Community Solutions Incorporated, suggested using a population formula for a portion of operating costs while still investigating how to best cover capital costs.

Trail is currently paying close to 70 per cent of the regional budget following a formula created in the late 1960s, which is based mostly on population and projected growth.

The mediator hired on to investigate a fair solution found the old formula “flawed,” as it is in no way reflective of the growth – or lack of it – that has actually occurred.

“Under the original agreement, each community purchased a certain amount of capacity and given that all of our populations have declined since then, none of us have fully utilized our capacity in the plant,” added Wallace. “And that capacity is still sufficient and as we get into our liquid waste management plan, it looks like the current capacity would actually carry us forward for another 20 years or so.”

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary has recommended the matter go to the province in hopes of finding a resolution this year, though the financial implications will not be taken into effect until 2013.