Village joins in concern

Midway is concerned about possible downloading of BC Hydro dept to the provincial taxpayer

Midway council header

Midway council header

Responding to a letter from the City of Trail, Midway council has voted to join with other communities in the FortisBC electrical service area to raise concerns with the provincial government that the debt held by BC Hydro not be transferred to the general taxpayer, but instead be the responsibility of BC Hydro ratepayers.

The letter from Trail claims that, on average, the residential power rate in the FortisBC service area is approximately 20 per cent higher than that of a BC Hydro customer. It notes that this is a turnaround from days gone by, when power rates in the Lower Columbia region were as much as 20 per cent lower providing the region with a distinct economic advantage.

A group of elected officials are preparing to make representation to the province at the September Union of BC Municipalities convention on the issue and are seeking the involvement of all communities within the FortisBC service area.

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Village administrator Penny Feist reported that some 275 letters were sent out on July 31 to eligible property owners giving them 14 days to declare their intent regarding the proposed Midway Fire Protection Expansion into RDKB Area E. If enough property owners sign up to support the contract service then it will proceed.

The expanded service is seen as a win/win for both village and eligible rural residents as it will provide fire protection to those currently without it as well as providing more members for the volunteer fire department.

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Council passed a motion to purchase crush for the low-lying areas of the River Trail from Cannon Excavating for the cost of $200. Feist told council it is expected that the work will be done by Community Futures workers in November-December.

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Feist informed council that there has been a number of sprinkling-related complaints. “We have been issuing friendly reminders and asking for the public’s co-operation to prevent further action from being taken,” she told the elected officials.

A note in the bi-weekly newsletter published by the village reminded residents that sprinkling (irrigating lawns and gardens) between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. is prohibited. “If the problem persists then Public Works will be forced to start shutting off the water at the offending properties.”

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A letter of thanks went to John Coburn for his many years of service as co-ordinator of the West Boundary Highway Rescue.

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Mayor Kappes reported he and the administrator had met twice with the fire department to deal with the radio frequency issue and the fire service area expansion mapping.

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Councilor Gary Schierbeck noted that Greenwood City Council and the Greenwood Board of Trade are investigating establishing an economic development committee for the city and asked why the village should not do the same for Midway.

“Right now we are basically a one-horse town and we could be in big trouble,” cautioned Schierbeck. “We’ve probably got a window of about 10 years but we should start now to try and get things going.

“I am willing to stand up and do what I can as economic development officer – do whatever I can to help this community – but I need the backing of council if they are interested. I think it is very important that we start now rather than too late.”

Schierbeck said his intent is not to withdraw from the regionally focused Boundary Economic Development Commission, but to work in conjunction with them.

“So that if somebody is interested in investing we have somebody who is going to sell the place,” he said.

With no formal motion made at the meeting, however, the issue remained a topic of discussion rather than an action item for consideration by council.

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Councillor Marguerite Rotvold reported that the July Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) meeting heard a presentation on the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) project. “They are trying to get the trail connected across Canada by 2017 – the 25th anniversary of the TCT and the 150th birthday of Canada.”

She said that $150 million is being raised nationally, both private and public, and that the trail is seen as a legacy for Canada and all the citizens of the country.

“There are still gaps with trails in B.C. especially in the RDKB and South Okanagan-Similkameen.” She said that all regional districts in the province are supporting the trails project.

According to a letter sent to the regional district from Allison Macdonald, chair of the Vision 2017 Trail Committee, funds will be available from TCT to assist in bridging the gaps, through problem solving and working with local communities.

Rotvold said one of the issues raised was the farmers between Midway and Westbridge who have blocked the trail. “How do you deal with what they have done?” asked Rotvold. “I can’t see any solution for that unless the government pays them money.”

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Mayor Kappes reported that he has accepted a position on the board of Community Futures Boundary.