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Balfour residents go to polls to determine water system upgrades

Residents can have their say in advance voting on June 7th, general voting on June 17th or mail ballot voting.

Balfour residents are going to the polls in June to vote in a referendum to determine the direction the community wants to take regarding the water system upgrades.

Monday, more than 65 residents attended a public meeting as Regional District of Central Kootenay staff presented information about the project goals, finances, and proposed water rates. 

In a media release, RDCK said it is seeking approval from the electors in the Balfour Water System Area if residents support the RDCK borrowing $583,323 to proceed with the project, which has an estimated total cost of $3,397,000. 

“The proposed project provides the community of Balfour with a unique opportunity to catch up on urgent replacement backlog for their water system with a relatively small financial commitment,” Uli Wolf, the RDCK’s General Manager of Environmental Services said in the media release.

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

The RDCK said 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.

The RDCK said the 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 $2.8 million Clean Water and Wastewater Fund grant the RDCK received for the project.

“It was very encouraging to see a cross section of the community come out and receive information and ask questions,” said Ramona Faust, Electoral Area E Director. 

“I think people left understanding the choices that we have to make to rehabilitate the water system. Thank you to the community, RDCK staff and the facilitator for an informative meeting.” 

Staff said at the meeting 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 RDCK said the resulting impact will be an increase to the current parcel tax amount of $248 by 421% 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 7th, general voting on June 17th and mail ballot voting. 

Visit the RDCK website for more information on the project and the referendum.