An Electoral Area A town hall meeting was held in Fernie on February 13. Elizabeth Ahlgren, Project Supervisor, gave an update on the West Fernie Servicing and Restructure Project.
The Regional District East Kootenay (RDEK) has asked property owners in West Fernie whether they would like to proceed with a project to provide additional community services by joining the City of Fernie (COF).
The current West Fernie water system is more than 50 years old, constructed in 1955. The system is old and deteriorating and is in need of repair every year.
The proposed project consists of three components: servicing, financing and governance restructuring.
Servicing will include providing/improving water, sewer and storm water sewer services. Construction will consist of upgrading the deteriorating water distribution system, installing water meters, installing a new sanitary sewer collection system connected to the existing COF system and treatment plant, installing a storm water sewer system with services to properties on the south side of the highway and improving drainage for the north side of the highway and road reconstruction to COF rural standard for all roads affected by construction.
Financing will consist of borrowing money and securing grants. The project is being brought forward on the basis of receiving grants of approximately 80 per cent of the estimated project cost. This will leave the community funding 20 per cent of the total project cost. The total estimated costs are $14,600,000.
Up to $3,000,000 would need to be borrowed over and above required grants. West Fernie property owners would repay the debt via an annual parcel tax. For those who prefer to pay their share of the costs up front rather than paying an annual parcel tax, a prepayment option will be available at an estimated cost of $13,000 per parcel.
Governance restructuring means that West Fernie will become part of the COF. A restructuring would allow for an expansion of services, including connecting to the City’s sanitary sewer system. If a restructuring takes place it would include some services such as snow plowing, bylaw enforcement, land use planning and development approvals being transferred from the RDEK to the City.
According to Ahlgren, the plans to move forward in 2012 include; applying for 2012 General Strategic Priority Funding, gathering more info, expanding a question and answer package, continuing communication with the public, continuing to expand email database, updating the website and having more newsletters and meetings.
If residents choose to become a part of the COF, timing of construction would be dependent on when the RDEK would be able to secure the required grants. Once the grants are secured construction would start one to two years later.
If the community does not support the proposed project, the West Fernie Waterworks District (WFWD) would move forward with a number of initiatives including; upgrades to the existing water distribution system, introducing taxation to complete and pay for the upgrades and extending the boundary to include all properties currently receiving water.
On-site septic systems would remain the responsibility of property owners. Septic systems can range in cost from $10,000 to $45,000.
For more information, frequently asked questions are posted on the website www.westfernie.ca. or contact Elizabeth Ahlgren, Project Supervisor, at 1-888-478-7335.