By Kelsey Verboom
A proposal by Radium Resort to share wastewater treatment facilities with the Village of Radium Hot Springs didn’t float well with council.
At a regular meeting on April 11th, representatives from Radium Resort met with Radium council to discuss the possibility of the neighbouring resort hooking into the town’s wastewater treatment plant.
The idea is unique, as Radium Resort does not fall within the town’s boundaries.
Although they didn’t flush the idea outright, members of council were reluctant to embrace the suggestion.
The possible arrangement would be complex for legal, political, and engineering reasons, acknowledged Barry Potter, representing Radium Resort. He requested council at least consider the proposal and “see if we can bridge some of the issues.”
If the town came to an agreement about sharing wastewater treatment facilities, the village would retain no control over the planning of new development and the volumes of wastewater the village might be expected to treat, argued Councillor Ron Verboom. The planning power would remain with the Regional District of East Kootenay, leaving the Village of Radium Hot Springs with little say over what would be coming down the pipe.
“What if the resort changes hands 10, 20 years down the road?” Councillor Verboom questioned. “It’s just too much of an unknown situation.”
Thus far the village’s mandate has been not to share services with developments outside of town boundaries.
Twice in the past there has been discussion about Radium Resort becoming part of the Village of Radium by way of a boundary extension, but for various reasons it never became a reality.
Since then, Radium Resort and the village have enjoyed a very positive working relationship, said Mayor Dee Conklin, which the village would like to continue. However, Radium Resort hooking in to Radium’s wastewater treatment facilities would have no benefit to the taxpayers, she added.
“What’s the benefit? I don’t see it yet.”
Council also discussed the risks associated with revenue collection outside town boundaries. If a resident of a Radium Resort development using the wastewater treatment failed to pay their sewage costs, the town would have no legal recourse.
The Village of Radium is currently in the process of refurbishing its sewer treatment plant. The $1.5 million project is expected to be completed by August.
The upgrades are designed to handle Radium’s sewage needs at total build-out, or the maximum capacity the town can be built to with its current village boundaries.
Adding an unknown amount of development to the wastewater equation would essentially take away the opportunity for future developments in town to use the treatment plant, unless it was again expanded, said Mark Read, chief administrator for the village.
Radium does not currently own land that would make it possible to expand.
Saying ‘yes’ to Radium Resort’s request would set a precedent and open a can of worms for other possible requests, like Dry Gulch, which really needs a water solution, Mr. Read added.
“Again, it’s principle,” Councillor Verboom said. “If we said we won’t, we shouldn’t. Here we would be opening the gate by doing just that.”
Council shouldn’t consider the proposal unless a boundary extension is considered, he said, adding that a possible boundary extension would create a host of other technical hurdles.
“Our taxpayers are our first priority,” Councillor Karen Larsen said. “I don’t see a balance here.”
Councillor Clara Reinhardt added, “Could it happen? Maybe. But right now we don’t see it.”
The matter will return to council’s next meeting on April 25th.