Trail council agreed to exempt building permits for projects at the landfill and Columbia Pollution Control Centre. Photo: Sheri Regnier

Trail council agreed to exempt building permits for projects at the landfill and Columbia Pollution Control Centre. Photo: Sheri Regnier

City exempts building permits for pricey Kootenay Boundary projects

The City of Trail and Kootenay Boundary Regional District avoid new environmental hurdle

The provincial government’s new environmental regulations for building permits almost threw a wrench into the planned multi-million dollar upgrades to the McKelvey Creek Landfill Upgrade Project (MCLUP) and the Columbia Pollution Control Project (CPCP).

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Changes to the Environmental Management Act and Contaminated Sites Regulation came into effect Feb. 1, 2021 and were intended to ensure that properties with potential contamination issues were identified and remediated prior to a change in land use.

For both the MCLUP and the CPCP, the land use will not change despite upcoming renovations, so the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) was offered a path to circumvent the remediation inquiry by waving the building permit requirements for both projects.

“The Land Remediation Branch suggested that, for these projects, the regional district wave the requirement for building permitting so that the site disclosure requirement is not triggered,” explained Trail Deputy CAO and Corporate Administrator Michelle McIsaac at a governance meeting earlier this month.

Facing a similar dilemma in August 2021, Grand Forks council had taken the same steps to avoid delays in the Grand Forks Organics Upgrade Project at the Grand Forks landfill by amending its building bylaw.

However, it comes at a potential cost.

The City of Trail stands to miss out on approximately $300,000 in lost revenue from CPCP building permits and another $30,000 for the permits for MCLUP.

The potential losses in building fees, however, would be a drop in the bucket compared to costs associated with delays and site investigation.

City staff suggested that council could also apply to the RDKB for some restitution in a separate motion, but Coun. Robert Cacchioni, also the RDKB director, clarified the potential liability.

“We’re looking at over $300,000 a month in delays and even in this short time now, it has already amounted to about $200,000.”

A third-party consultant estimated that the cost of delays in the $63M CPCP to be six per cent per year. If the project is delayed one more year, the total would be about $3.7M or more than $300,000 a month.

“It has nothing to do with the regional district, it has nothing to do with the city, it is the ineptness of the system which can’t grant an exemption, when they know that the use of this particular property has not changed,” said Cacchioni.

The exemption will allow both pending projects to proceed in a timely fashion and limit the costs associated with delays.

Coun. Sandy Santori made the point that the exemption would not leave the city $300,000 in the red, as the fees were not received or factored into the city budget.

“This is not creating a $300,000 revenue shortfall in any way, shape or form to the city.”

Santori also noted that despite the exemption, the BC Building Codes would still be met during construction.

Cacchioni made a motion to go ahead with the exemption and forego any motion on restitution from the RDKB.

The committee voted unanimously in favour of the motion.

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