Public meeting hears Balfour water vote details

The referendum will take place June 17 with advance voting on June 7.

Submitted by the Regional District of Central Kootenay

Well over 65 Balfour residents attended a public meeting hosted by the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) on May 15 to discuss needed capital upgrades to their water system. RDCK staff presented information about the project goals, finances, and proposed water rates.

The RDCK is seeking approval from the electors in the Balfour Water System Area via assent voting (referendum) to determine if they support the RDCK borrowing $583,323 to proceed with the project, which has an estimated total cost of $3,397,000. The scope of the project includes construction of a new reservoir, installation of universal metering, establishing standby power, replacement of the upper zone pump station, upgrading water lines and providing hydrant infill.

The balance of the cost would come from the $2.8 million Clean Water and Wastewater Fund grant the RDCK received for the project.

Some meeting attendees noted they did not favour the installation of meters; however, staff explained that this component of the project must be completed to secure the grant.

Ramona Faust, Electoral Area E Director, said, “It was very encouraging to see a cross section of the community come out and receive information and ask questions. I think people left understanding the choices that we have to make to rehabilitate the water system.”

Ulli Wolf, general manager of the RDCK’s environmental services, said the relatively small financial commitment will allow the RDCK to do urgent replacement work.

“This project is a must in order to achieve rate stability for the water system,” he said.

If the borrowing is not approved, the RDCK will still be required to undertake some aspects of the project and staff will recommend to the Board of Directors to proceed with borrowing $1.42 million to replace the reservoir immediately. If approved by the Board of Directors, this will be done under a short term, five-year loan which does not require public assent.

The resulting impact will be an increase to the current parcel tax amount of $248 by 421 per cent for a total of $1,292 per year for a five-year period.

Balfour residents have three opportunities to cast their ballots: advance voting on June 7, general voting on June 17, and mail ballot voting.