Eligible voters within the Balfour Water Service Area will get another opportunity to vote on whether or not they approve the RDCK borrowing $583,323 to make capital upgrades to their water system.
(RDCK RELEASE) – Water users were asked that question via an alternative approval process (counter petition) held in March. When the alternative approval process failed, the RDCK Board voted to proceed to referendum.
The Balfour Water System Upgrade and Universal Metering Project has been granted $1,698,500 in federal funds and $1,121,010 from the Province through the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund for a total of over $2.8 million. However, that funding is conditional on the RDCK contributing 17% to the overall project cost by borrowing $583,323.
If the borrowing is not approved, the RDCK will lose the $2.8 million in grant funding.
“The alternative approval process was a method to gauge the community’s interest in borrowing the funds needed for this project,” said Ramona Faust, Area E Director. “The RDCK has heard from a number of people who are in favour of the project proceeding, so we feel it’s in the public’s best interest to undertake a referendum.”
Balfour residents will have three opportunities to cast their ballots: advance voting on June 7th, general voting on June 17th and mail ballot voting.
Information about the referendum will be mailed to all households in the service area. Additionally, ads will appear in local publications and on the RDCK website. A public meeting will be held on the evening of May 15th in the Balfour Community Hall.
“We are very thankful that the federal and provincial governments extended the project completion timelines under the grant conditions to allow us to hold this referendum,” said Uli Wolf, General Manager of Environmental Services. “Without this project, user fees within the system will have to increase substantially beyond current levels only to complete the absolute necessary components of the proposed project.”
Wolf points out that all components of the project have to be completed in order for the RDCK to receive the grant monies. These include replacement of the reservoir, installation of universal metering and standby power, replacement of the upper zone pump station, extension of the distribution system and looping, and the provision of hydrant infill.
The RDCK assumed ownership of the Balfour Water System in January 2011 at which time a new treatment plant was constructed. The water system has capacity, aging infrastructure, reliability and financial challenges.
The estimated total project cost is $3,397,000.