Prolonged sewer dispute finally settled

Trail, Rossland and Warfield have finally agreed to settle a dispute over sewer service funding.

After four years and tens of thousands spent on legal fees, Trail, Rossland and Warfield have finally agreed to settle a disputesh over sewer service funding.

Since the 1960s, Trail paid close to 70 per cent of the regional sewer budget following a formula created at that time, which was based on population and projected growth.

The three municipalities have been at odds following a 2008 service review and an unsuccessful attempt to arrive at a consensus to resolve the dispute by formulating a fair allocation of costs related to what service each community received.

The new cost-sharing agreement reduces the Silver City’s payment into the regional service by 6.4 per cent, and increases the cost to the Golden City by four per cent.

Additionally, Warfield and Area B will have to buck up an extra two and 1.45 per cent respectively according to agreement terms.

Translated to an approximate dollar amount, the settlement incurs an additional $56,000 for Rossland, $34,000 for Warfield, and Trail’s cost portion reduced $90,000, based on a $1.4 million budget, explained Coun. Robert Cacchioni during his report to council Monday night.

Moving forward, the cost-sharing formula may fluctuate related to a user-pay system the administrator of the regional service, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), will implement by installing volume measuring flow meters later this year.

“We agreed in principal to move forward with these flow meters,” said Cacchioni. “By 2016 we would review the volumes and the (cost-sharing) percentages may increase or decrease at that time.”

Each flow meter costs about $10,000, and a ballpark figure of $250,00 to $300,000 will be dispersed to cover additional infrastructure upgrades related to meter instalment, he added.

A minutes of settlement agreement was reached late last week, confirmed Warfield Mayor Bert Crockett during village council Monday afternoon.

“We were supposed to be sitting in chambers with lawyers in Vancouver on Jan. 8,” he explained. “To elude that situation,  on Jan. 9 we had a teleconference,” Crockett continued. “The arbitrator accepted our minutes of settlement and a draft consent award was written up.”

For village residents, the new agreement terms mean a hefty increase in the upcoming utility bill, according the mayor.

“You can expect an increase in your sewer bill this year for sure,” said Crockett. “Right now we are looking at a 12 to 14 per cent increase.”

Once the three councils sign on the dotted line, the agreement will be forwarded to the RDKB to formalize in an establishment bylaw, explained Crockett.

“Now that this is done, we can move forward in discussions about the Trail foot bridge and the liquid waste management plan.”

Crockett was referring to the regional sewer line that carries liquid waste from the three communities across the Columbia River to the treatment facilities located behind the Waneta Plaza.

That utility line is currently housed on the Old Bridge in Trail.

Based on the cost to remove the sewer pipe from the old structure and attach it to the planned pedestrian pipe bridge, a cost-sharing formula now has to be negotiated between Trail and the RDKB.

The original estimate was $2.2 million but after further review that cost could climb as high as $3 million, said Coun. Cacchioni.

“Right now, that appears to be the only option,” he said. “But we called a meeting for Feb. 4 to take a look at that.”