Borrowing for bridge to go to referendum

To keep up with construction schedule of the new sewer pipe, a referendum about the proposed walking bridge is planned for late summer.

A stand alone referendum could happen by late summer and give all Trail residents the opportunity to vote for or against the city borrowing money to build a walking bridge over a pipeline crossing at the south end of town.

After a counter petition with over 1,200 signatures sunk the Columbia River Utilities/Pedestrian Bridge Loan Bylaw through the alternative approval process Friday afternoon, Trail council voted to try another borrowing route during the Monday night meeting.

“The regional construction of the pipe bridge must proceed irrespective of the city’s added involvement,” explained Michelle McIsaac, Trail’s corporate administrator.

Considerable funds have been expended on the engineering to advance the project, she noted.

“It should therefore be determined at referendum if the electorate approve the borrowing for the addition of the pedestrian walkway and other utilities.”

Before the loan authorization is pushed to Trail’s 5,733 registered electors on the voters list, the bylaw requires approval from the province through Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. Then, the voting must be held withing 80 days of approval, which is anticipated to be mid-to-late August.

Generally referendums are held during election periods to expend costs, but with the new sewer interceptor line and pipe crossing set to begin this summer, the city’s chance to proceed with the pedestrian walkway as a joint venture with the regional district is coming down to the wire.

“Once we move forward on the sewer line it is not possible to go back after and put a walking line on,” said Robert Cacchioni, Trail Coun. and chair of the East End Services (EES) sewerage committee.

After exploring all possible options to connect the west end sewer line to the east side of the river, the pipe bridge, also called an aerial crossing, remains the most cost effective and safe way to replace the old utility line currently hanging on the Old Trail Bridge.

“The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB)  has been working with the City of Trail for two and a half years,” he said. “The focus of the Columbia River remains on an aerial crossing as a preferred crossing,” Cacchioni noted, reading from minutes of the April 28 EES sewerage committee meeting.

Following recommendations by the City of Trail engineering department, specialized bridge engineering services of a Vancouver firm called Buckland & Taylor, the RDKB’s consultants, OPUS DaytonKnight, another Vancouver engineering company, and SNC Lavalin, the $4.5 million pipe crossing option is set to proceed this summer.

Subject to final costs, regional sewer partners on councils in Rossland, Warfield and Trail have to approve the financing sometime this month, before writing the funding apportionment into a bylaw that is not subject to counter petition, explained Cacchioni.

Trail will pay 62.5 per cent, or over $2.8 million towards the cost to build a structure across the river to support a new sewer line, Rossland will pay about $1.2 million and Warfield $564,000.

“Once final costs are established by a second engineering firm to be absolutely clear, the RDKB loan authorization will be put forth,” he said. “Over this time frame the RDKB has been working with the City of Trail for a joint venture with walking portion of the bridge,” continued the councillor. “You cannot build the sewer line section and go back after and say, ‘Hang on, I want to put a walking bridge on.’

“Make no mistake, if we don’t proceed with this time sensitive choice, you will have a pipe crossing the Columbia River near the Old Bridge, and that’s all you will have.”