The PRRD presented those in attendance with a proposal each on water and sewer. Deputy CAO for the Regional District Shannon Anderson said they are in discussions with municipalities to see if a compromise can be reached that would see facilities be improved in exchange for an agreement to accept sewage at said facilities.
“The plan that we showed tonight was a plan for the entire PRRD. Of which one component of that sewage function is a replacement of Fort St. John,” he explained. “We’re also looking at developing partnerships with municipalities to upgrade their facilities in turn for a long term agreement to accept sewage at their facilities. Rather than us looking just around Fort St. John, why can’t we look at the entire Regional District because they may be having issues down the road as well, so be proactive instead of reactive.”
He added that at the moment only the people opposed to the proposal on the table get a vote. The potential for a referendum on the topic exists if the required amount of citizens vote down the idea.
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“This is an alternative approval process so only the no people get a vote. If ten per cent or more of the eligible electors in that service area say no they don’t want it then the board may go to a referendum where the yes people get a vote as well,” Anderson said.
The most common question posed by those in attendance is what happens after December 31 when the transfer station is expected to close down. Currently the PRRD does not have a plan in place, much to the frustration of the crowd. The Regional District estimates that if approval is given to their proposals that the earliest the water and sewage facilities would be running would be the end of next year, leaving a significant gap in the mean time.
“I wish we had a contingency at this time. We’re working on some options as to what that might look like but at this point we don’t have anything solidified. We’re hoping over the next month we’re going to see some responses to some of our fan outs of our requests to the municipalities and the City of Fort St. John.”
Both proposals from the PRRD are estimated to cost $10,000,000 each. If accepted, it will result in a charge for residential owners. Figures presented by the Regional District indicate that those with an assessment of $300,000 would pay $87 per year to cover the costs, those assessed at $500,000 would pay $145, and those at $700,000 would pay $203 per year.