Trail’s McKelvey Creek landfill could be in line for multi-million dollar upgrades if residents give their blessing through a counterpetition process. Black Press file photo

Trail’s McKelvey Creek landfill could be in line for multi-million dollar upgrades if residents give their blessing through a counterpetition process. Black Press file photo

RDKB to seek borrowing approval for waste projects

Regional district plans to spent millions on landfill upgrades and green bin project

By Greg Nesteroff

You’ll soon be asked to approve big bucks for a better landfill.

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary will seek residents’ approval through a counterpetition process to borrow money for upgrades at Trail’s McKelvey Creek landfill and other projects.

The exact amount is still to be determined, but environmental services manager Janine Dougall told the board this week it’s expected to be in the range of $4.5 million to $5.6 million.

Upgrades at the landfill, which would be carried out next year, are estimated at $2.1 million to $3 million. The project includes building a transfer station for green bins, adding two new weigh scales, and moving and upgrading the recycling area. The RDKB applied for a grant to cover most of the cost but was unsuccessful.

The second project is a green bin program that will see residential organic waste pickup expanded to Greater Trail starting in the fall of 2022. The $1.1 million price tag will cover buying and distributing bins and collection bags to about 8,300 households along with an education program. A grant application has been submitted for this project as well.

The third project is buying a new wood grinder that could be used in composting operations in the Boundary as well as at McKelvey Creek. The current grinder will require replacement by the end of 2027 at an estimated cost of $1.2 million to $1.5 million.

If the counterpetition process is successful, the regional district will be able to borrow for the projects over 20 years rather than being restricted to short-term borrowing of five years.

Under the process, if at least 10 per cent of eligible voters sign forms against the move, the RDKB will have to hold a referendum or otherwise switch gears. Those in favour of the long-term borrowing don’t have to do anything.

The number of signatures required to defeat the measure still needs to be worked out, along with the date that the process will begin. Dougall said it will take staff some time to put together the required documentation.

“If this is successful it will certainly put the taxpayer in a much better and more advantageous position to move forward with these projects with the most minimal increase to taxation and tipping fees possible,” she said.

She said she was confident they would hear soon whether they have been successful in their grant application for the green bin program, potentially reducing costs to local taxpayers. She added they will continue to pursue grant opportunities.

“If we get this borrowing capability, it doesn’t mean we’re going to use it in its entirety if we don’t have to,” she said.

A further looming issue is the expiration of the contract to run the McKelvey Creek landfill in 2023. RDKB staff have discussed moving operations in house, although it would require spending more than a million dollars on equipment.

“I think in the long run it will be cheaper and better for communities to have control of the landfill for ourselves,” Trail director Robert Cacchioni said.