$50,000 buys city new revenue stream/saves 'critical' service
A new agreement with the Southeast Fire Centre will see the city spending roughly $50,000 initially – but recouping the loss over the term of the agreement and creating a new revenue stream for the city while ensuring the city’s continuing role as the operations base for an important regional service.
City director of Transportation and Civic Works Chris Barlow said, in a report to council at its regular meeting Monday night, that, “Up until 2012, the West Kootenay Regional Airport received its potable water from an onsite well, reservoir and pump system. With the installation of the water main over the Kinnaird Bridge, the old well system has been deemed redundant; although the well provides a solid backup supply if required.
“The Ministry of Forestry has a 20-year lease with the City of Castlegar to house the Southeast Fire Centre at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. This site is the central air-attack base and the location where forest-fighting tankers are supplied from. In the past, the (MoF) has filled the air tankers with a fill line that starts at the Columbia River and wakes its way through the Doukhbor Museum and eventually ends at the airside fillings station. This line is in poor shape and does not provide the (MoF) with the secure flow that it requires.”
He said the MoF approached the city about tapping into the city’s potable water supply for fire-fighting water, but that seemed a less-than-ideal use of potable water, especially given the time of year.
Instead, the city will install an new connection from the existing well building to the MoF site at a cost of roughly $50,000, with the city maintaining the well and pump system, and charging the MoF a minimum-per-annum use charge (regardless of consumption) as well as an additional fee for any water use above and beyond the minimum.
“At minimum usage, this will be revenue-neutral for the city, but when usage is higher, it will create a new revenue stream for the city,” he said, adding the agreement has a built-in charge that will see the city’s initial $50,000 recovered over the term of the agreement.
Even discounting the new revenue stream and MoF landing fees at the airport, Barlow said this is an excellent investment for the city in that it keeps the Southeast Fire Centre flying out of our airport.
“It’s critical from both the standpoint of economic spin-off and benefits and as a safety consideration should we experience forest fires close to municipal limits,” he said.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the new agreement.