Castlegar city council has given its staff the go-ahead to look at putting an RV sani-dump near the Doukhobor Discovery Centre, despite several councillors expressing reservations about the location and potential cost.
The proposed Heritage Way location was the top pick from among several studied and comes with an estimated cost of $415,000 to build and annual operating costs of $8,000. It would replace the old sani-dump, which closed this year in preparation for construction of the new Chamber of Commerce building.
As part of this year’s capital budget, a consultant was hired to do a feasibility study on potential sites and narrowed seven contenders down to four. The other three finalists, which were deemed less desirable, were the airport lands, Columbia Avenue and 8th Street opposite Chopsticks restaurant, and Millennium Park near the tennis/pickleball courts.
Heritage Way was considered optimal partly because a water line already goes through the site and sanitary would come off the sewer line that goes to the airport.
The motion passed this week will let the city proceed to detailed design work and look at user fees for the service. The previous sani-dump was free. Engineering manager Travis Christianson said they will ask other municipalities and campgrounds what they charge.
Councillor Dan Rye said he felt the Heritage Way option is the best one, “even though it happens to be the most expensive one. The airport lands doesn’t make sense. Columbia Avenue doesn’t make sense. Trying to take RVs into Millennium Park doesn’t make a lot of sense either.”
Heritage Way, by contrast, he said, has lots of room, although he wondered about a plan to have vehicles go to the end of the road and double back rather than turn immediately on to the site.
He said it might also bring more people to the Doukhobor museum. The Kootenay Gallery is nearby as well, but it’s expected to move to a new location downtown in the next few years.
Rye said he had no problem charging a fee, and although he wasn’t sure what it should be, “the total cost of the project may determine it.”
While that cost is steep, he feels it’s at least worth investigating.
“We’ve been telling the community we were going to look at options. This is what we’re doing. If we were to just drop this, then I don’t think we’ve been very honest with our citizens.”
Councillor Cherryl MacLeod said she wished there was a better option closer to the city core rather than on the outskirts.
“I believe part of the deal was we wanted it to be inside Castlegar,” she said. “It’s our tax money that’s paying for it. It would be nice to have people drawn into Castlegar.”
Councillor Maria McFaddin asked about putting the sani-dump at the rec complex, close to its old location and the new visitor centre. Christianson replied that the city only owns a portion of the front parking lot and it would be more difficult to service the site.
City manager Chris Barlow said that although the old sani-dump was well used, people from out of town only accounted for a small percentage of that use, as tourists would likely dump before coming over mountain passes. He said the sani-dump could also be a “natural fit” with the Doukhobor Discovery Centre’s strategic plan to add a campground.
Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff said she is concerned about traffic getting in and out of an already congested intersection with two sharp turns and suggested the road may have to be upgraded to accommodate large RVs, increasing the overall price tag to more than $500,000.
“I’m not sold on this location. I’m not sold on the price,” she said. “How much revenue are we going to get? Enough even to cover the maintenance?” But she concluded “the next council can figure out how to pay for it, because I didn’t think it was going to cost this much.”
The area is home to two other sani-dumps: the Husky station (1415 Columbia Ave.) and Syringa Provincial Park (5570 Broadwater Rd.) but council made replacing the city-owned one a priority.