Like any physical property that is collectively owned, all parties have a say when it goes up for sale.
Or “disposition” as is the case here.
That’s the simplest way to explain the upcoming referendum for voters in Rossland, Trail and Warfield – even though the matter is infinitely more complicated because the asset – sewer pipe infrastructure – is regionally “owned.”
For that reason, aside from a ballot to elect city and village leaders, constituents in the three municipalities will be asked the same two referendum questions, even though only one will pertain to the community in which they live.
One question asks whether ownership of the sewer collection system serving (benefiting) only Trail should be transferred from the RDKB (Regional District of Kootenay Boundary) to the City of Trail.
The other question asks whether ownership of the sewer collection system serving only Rossland should be transferred from the RDKB to the City of Rossland.
Again, this means Trail will vote on whether Rossland should own the sewer collection pipes that serve only Rossland, and Rossland will vote on whether Trail should own the sewer collection pipes that serve only Trail.
Warfield will vote on both Rossland’s and Trail’s potential ownership of the assets that serve only Trail and Rossland.
Electors will also be asked to vote on whether each city should own the sewer collection pipes that serve their own communities.
To further clarify, the Trail Times talked with Frances Maika, the regional district’s corporate communications officer.
“These sewer collection systems (sanitary assets) have been owned by the RDKB since 1969,” she began. “The RDKB’s East End Regional Sanitary Service operates and maintains these assets, as well as the Columbia Pollution Control Centre and various sewer pumping (lift) stations.”
Rossland, Warfield and Trail are all members of the regional district and residents in these three RDKB municipalities pay taxes that cover the cost of the East End Regional Sanitary Service.
“B.C. law requires that a referendum take place to determine if the electors in the RDKB service area are in agreement with the transfer of these assets from the RDKB to the municipalities,” Maika explained.
That is why the RDKB will ask the electors in Rossland, Trail and Warfield two separate questions in this referendum.
“In short, they each want to own, operate and maintain the sewage collection pipes that serve each of their communities,” she said.
“Warfield’s sewage collection pipes are shared by Rossland and Warfield, and so will continue to be owned, operated and maintained by the RDKB.”
In a nutshell, because the sewer service is collectively owned, all parties have a say in its potential disposition.
Notably, because the asset is collectively owned, the referendum will be collectively tallied.
Approval will be obtained if a majority of the collective (combined) votes counted, as valid, are in favour of the ballot questions.
The ballots for each question will be counted separately in each municipality with individual municipality totals – for and against – added together for collective results.
“If more than 50 per cent of the total number of ballots counted for each question in the referendum indicate ‘yes’ then the referendum passes for that question,” Maika furthered. “The referendum does not have to pass in each community for the referendum to pass overall.”
A failed referendum question means that the RDKB will continue to own, operate and maintain the relevant asset.
“It is not decided municipality by municipality,” Maika reiterated. “But by a count of the total votes cast across the East End Regional Sanitary Service area within the RDKB, comprised all the electors in the City of Rossland, the City of Trail and the Village of Warfield.”