A capacity crowd filled Victory Hall on July 24 as Keremeos Irrigation District held an information session prior to a vote on borrowing for a new reservoir.
The vote – which tallied 235 in favour and 49 against with two spoiled ballots – allows the KID to move forward with the project, securing a $300,000 gas tax grant that was in danger of slipping away, leaving residents with a bigger bill to pay. The project must start by August 31.
It was a calm and generally unemotionial group that gathered to hear KID Board Chair Ian Walters explain that the reason for the meeting was not about the project itself – it had to be done, he declared – but about how to pay for it.
Consultant Kevin Huey, who recently left the employ of the KID, described the project and answered a number of well thought questions put to him.
One resident who put forward a request to have all the directors removed from office, was answered with a chorus of boos from many in the audience.
Laurie Taylor and Christy Quaedvlieg, both Village of Keremeos staff, acted as ballot counters for the voting process. There were some complaints concerning the time it took to vote, with two lineups that averaged about 25 minutes of wait time.
Prior to the meeting, a resident opposed to the project presented a handout to residents, posing several pages of questions regarding the necessity of the project, the legality of the borrowing vote, the ultimate cost of the project and other concerns. A handout offered at the meeting by the KID presented answers to commonly asked questions as well as providing a breakdown of financing and costs, should borrowing be approved or not.
KID household ratepayers will now see an increase of approximately eight dollars per year with borrowing approved.
Had ratepayers voted no to borrowing, household rates would have risenby approximately $148 per year to raise needed funds over five years to cover the cost of the project.
The KID will now be meeting with engineers to discuss the tendering process prior to selecting a contractor.
“Our financing is in place, we can borrow up to $940,000,” said KID Administrator Cheryl Halla. “The next board meeting should see adoption of the borrowing bylaw. Our construction permit has been issued, we have Ministry of Community and Rural Development approval – we’re ready to go.”