Bridge issue for council, community

There have many important issues that have been addressed during the mandate of council.  Currently Trail city council is dealing with three significant issues; the Old Bridge, the Regional Sewer Review as well as the Trail and Warfield amalgamation. In addition to these issues, as the city’s director to the regional district board, I want to provide some information on it’s structure.

Old Bridge

One topic that is on everyone’s mind wherever I go is the Old Bridge and if the city will be constructing a new bridge.  Information on the issue and options being considered were provided in a brochure that was sent out to all residents, can be found on the city’s website and will also be made available during public meetings.

Three options have been developed and costs obtained are noted as follows: repair the old bridge at $10 million for an additional 10-15 years of life; a pedestrian suspension bridge at $6.5 million; or building a new bridge and demolition of the old bridge at $20 million.

Recognizing the magnitude and importance of the decision, council is doing its best to inform the public and will consider all of the input received before any decision is made on whether or not to advance a preferred option and hold a referendum to determine if people are in support of borrowing moneys required.

Council has also been trying to determine if the Old Bridge could remain open for pedestrian use, however, the external engineering firm has recommended that the bridge remain closed, even for pedestrian use.

Regional Sewer Review

As most people are aware, Trail requested a review of the regional sewer service. The existing agreement was signed in 1968 and has never been reviewed or amended. Trail council’s position has been that how costs are apportioned should be reviewed and a new formula should be implemented where each community would pay for the service based on use.

We are pleased that the Village of Warfield, City of Rossland and the City of Trail have come to an agreement to bring in a mediator to review the cost sharing agreement.  The mediator’s report will not be binding and will have to be reviewed and approved by each respective council.

Council wants to put the sewer review behind us and commence work on the second phase of the Liquid Waste Management Plan with all interested stakeholders.  The plan will develop the preferred option for sewage treatment in the future as part of replacing the existing plant in Waneta.

Amalgamation

Trail council is on record supporting a Greater Trail amalgamation study as council’s first priority. Recognizing that there are many political challenges that would have to be overcome and after meetings with the provincial minister responsible, council has endorsed the request from Warfield to study the possibility of Trail and Warfield amalgamating.

Council recognizes that if any form of local government restructuring is going to take place, the first logical step is Warfield and Trail. Trail and Warfield now have an agreement to proceed and will form an amalgamation committee consisting of two council members, one senior staff member  and three community members from both areas that will oversee the study.

Regional District

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary extends from Big White through to Fruitvale and is governed by a board of directors composed of 13 members; one from each five electoral areas and one from each of eight municipal councils. Directors on the regional board are from Trail, Rossland, Warfield, Montrose, Fruitvale, Grand Forks, Greenwood, Midway, Area A (Beaver Falls and Waneta Area), Area B (Genelle , Rivervale, rural Rossland), Area C (Christina Lake), Area D (Grand Forks rural), Area E (Big White).

The regional director for an incorporated municipality is elected by a council vote and is the only position that is not appointed directly by the mayor.  Electoral area directors are voted in every three years by their constituents as part of the local government elections.

The regional district provides a broad range of services and only those areas receiving a particular service are taxed for it.  Some examples of these services include: solid waste management, general administration, community and regional planning and development, building inspection, sewage collection and treatment, animal control, recreation & culture, libraries, fire protection, economic development, public transit and cemeteries.

In Greater Trail there are services commonly referred to as east end services, which include the Greater Trail Community Centre, cemeteries, airport, fire services, transit and a reduced recreation budget. In 2010, the east end budget for these services totaled $4.8 million and Trail paid $2.1 million or 45 per cent of the total budget. Once the budget is approved, what each community contributes for these services is calculated using assessed values.

More information regarding the regional district services and costs can be found on the City of Trail’s and Regional District’s websites.

Dieter Bogs is the mayor of Trail. Community Comment is written by elected officials from the school board and municipal councils in Greater Trail. It runs every Wednesday.