Large turnout at council meeting

Alternative Approval Process for the proposed 1.2 million dollar borrowing for the water main upgrade on Barriere Town Road

There was a large turnout for the District of Barriere April 8 council meeting, with many residents turning out to ask questions about the proposed water line upgrade borrowing.

The Alternative Approval Process for the proposed 1.2 million dollar borrowing for the water main upgrade on Barriere Town Road is currently underway.   Staff members went over a list of prepared questions and answers, with questions from the floor following. Here are some of those questions and answers:

The work would involve replacing the water main along Barriere Town Road from approximately Station Road to just north of Barkley Road in the area where Phase 1 of the wastewater collection lines will be installed.  This upgrade would be completed at the same time the opposite side of Barriere Town Road is being dug up to install the new wastewater pipers.

Q: Who will this affect?

A: This upgrade, which will benefit and be paid for by all those for whom the water system is accessible, would be completed at the same time the opposite side of Barriere Town Road is being dug up to install the new wastewater pipers.

Q: How old is the existing water main and why do we need to replace it?

A: The existing main is approximately 50 years old and undersized for the size of the town. The current pipe size is 6” rather than the 10” it is supposed to be.  It is old asbestos cement pipe and most of the individual service connections do not meet current standards.

Q: If we don’t replace it now, how long will it hold up?

A: It is believed it has already far surpassed its life expectancy.  Breaks and/or complete failure may be imminent.

Q: If we wait a few years to make the upgrade, how much would it cost then?

A: The current estimate is $2 million.

Q: Would we have to borrow at that time too? Or could we get a grant to cover it?

A: At this time, there are no grant intakes for this type of infrastructure work.  In the future there may be funding opportunities, but there is no guarantee we will get one.  We currently have a grant application that has been turned down twice for funding for two new wells and a new reservoir for the south end of town.  We will continue to submit these types of applications for any new rounds that are announced.

Q: Doesn’t the District have money saved up for this?

A: The District does have some money in a water reserve fund, but its balance is nowhere near the required amount for this work, and should remain in place for breaks, unexpected equipment failure and other emergencies.

Q: If we do wind up borrowing the funds, how much is that going to cost the taxpayer?

A: We have 946 tax rolls that can use our water system resulting in each roll paying approximately $1,300.00 up front.  If the property owner wishes to defer the payment onto their taxes, they will pay approximately $115.00 per year for 15 yeas for a total payment of approximately $1,700.00.

Q: what is the interest rate for borrowing?

A: The final interest rate will be determined at the time of borrowing.  We have been using a suggested MFA interest rate of four per cent to make our estimated calculations.

Q: Why isn’t this automatically going to a vote (a referendum)?

A: Hosting a referendum (staffing an advance and voting day polling station, advertising, ballot printing and signage) is more expensive that the option of using the alternative Approval Process (AAP).  The AAP option, made available by legislation, was designed to reduce the cost impact to municipal tax payers of such a process, but to still provide an opportunity for electors’ voices to be heard.

Q:  If a resident feels they want this decision to go to a referendum, what do they need to do?

A: Qualified electors have until 4:00 p.m., April 22, 2013 to advise the District should they feel this matter is of such significance that a referendum should be held.  If more than 10 per cent of the electors hold this opinion, then Council cannot proceed with borrowing until after a formal referendum takes place and the vote is in favour of borrowing.

Other business at the council meeting included a motion passed for the final adoption of the District of Barriere Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw No. 101.

The District of Barriere Solid Waste Collections and Disposal Services Rates Bylaw No. 0044, 2009, Amendment Bylaw No. 103 passed its first three readings.  The final adoption of this bylaw will be at the next council meeting.

Councillors passed a motion that District staff proceed with the application for funding with Canadian Heritage, for the “Splash in the Past” water park project, with the understanding that the actual construction as a municipal project in Fadear Park will be subject to the successful fundraising efforts of the community.

Mayor Humphreys proclaimed April 27, 2013, to be “Daffodil Day” and strongly encouraged all residents of Barriere to continue to recognize and support the Canadian Cancer Society and the fight against cancer.

Legion representative Al Fortin advised council that the week of June 24-30 is Legion Week, and that the Barriere Legion will be having an event at the Bandshell on June 23 to mark the beginning of this week.  Fortin also stated that the RCMP will be holding their Bike Rodeo in conjunction with this event.

Fire Chief Al Kirkwood advised council that the lot across from the Argo lot on Airfield road is becoming a fire hazard, and will need to be dealt with soon.  Kirkwood also reported that the tanker truck broke down and is being repaired.

The next Council meeting will be on April 22, at 7 p.m.