By Sheri Regnier, Trail Times
Coming out of the boundary expansion gates Teck and Trail already have a lead, according to the Area A director.
Ali Grieve said, despite talk last week of boundary expansion into Area A by the Silver City and Teck Trail Operations, a tentative deal between Teck and the city is far, far away from being a done deal.
Details about a mutual agreement between Teck Trail Operations and the City of Trail were released last week and outlined the city’s intent to expand its boundary into Teck-owned land in Area A (Columbia Gardens).
Grieve said that both the city and Teck already stand to gain quite a bit “coming out of the gates” right now.
“It is a win-win agreement amongst themselves,” she said. “But in order for the province to allow the proposal to move forward, they will have to see that the stakeholders issues have been addressed.”
And the issue is money, in particular, how to fairly distribute tax dollars that are generated from the area within the proposed boundary extension, which includes the Waneta Dam and Teck’s Waneta Reload facility.
“It comes down to money, tax dollars and there should be no losers here,” said Grieve.
She said potential negative impacts and how they can be fixed will be addressed and then tax-sharing formulas for the Waneta Dam will be worked out between the Beaver Valley and Trail.
“The province has already said that Trail cannot have the Waneta Dam tax dollars to itself. It will become a subregional asset to be shared with the Beaver Valley and Trail,” Grieve said. “We need money for a healthy, happy and sustainable community. That means you don’t just get to keep what you have, you have money for future development and growth as well.”
In a press release issued on Monday, the mayors of Fruitvale and Montrose shared their concerns.
“The concentration of assessment is not in the interest of our greater community,” said Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini. “We need to be moving away from a situation where assessment and the benefits thereof, are concentrated in one community.”
Montrose Mayor Joe Danchuk called for better cooperation between communities.
“We need to be working together not building barriers to meaningful and mutually beneficial cooperation. I am afraid this boundary expansion proposal builds another barrier.”
John MacLean, chief administrative officer for the regional district, said that a formalized procedure on boundary expansion will be used by the province, but the next step will be for the City of Trail to present its interests to the province.
“This is a matter of process,” he said. “Once the city formalizes the boundary expansion with the province, the regional district will be asked to outline the impact that expansion will have on regional services to the area. We will go through a process of identifying the financial impact it will have on our services.”
From the regional district’s perspective, its responsibility is to respond and protect the interest of its taxpayers within the service area and ensure that it can continue to offer services, said MacLean.
Grieve said that Beaver Valley residents are questioning the process.
“It is important for people to understand … this is just a preliminary study,” she explained.
Grieve said that since the majority property owner (Teck) and the City of Trail have reached their own agreement, an official study will now follow.
“When we met with Minister Bill Bennett last fall he assured us that the Beaver Valley will remain whole or this deal wouldn’t move forward,” she said.