Revelstoke city puts $9 million in debt borrowing to elector process

The City of Revelstoke is proceeding to an alternative approval process for two long-term debt borrowing bylaws, one for $2 million, the other for $7 million, for a total of $9 million. If opposed, electors have until Sept. 20 to officially register their opposition.

File photo: A wildfire smoke tinged sunset on July 15, 2021 casts a pink hue onto the white Revelstoke City Hall. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

The City of Revelstoke is asking residents for approval to borrow a total of $9 million for two projects. The new debt would be paid off over the long term.

At its Aug. 9 meeting, Revelstoke city council voted to go ahead with two separate “alternative approval processes” in order to get the elector approval required to take on the new debt.

The first borrowing bylaw is for $7 million to pay for a portion of upgrades to the city’s sewage treatment plant. The borrowed funds would be combined with federal grants to complete upgrades at the plant.

An information sheet attached to the report estimated the cost of the borrowing is $152 per year for an average residential property over a 25-year period.

In an oral report, the city’s engineering director, Steve Black, said the project may not require the entire $7 million, but that the city has added contingency to the borrowing.

For full details on the sewage treatment plant upgrade plans, including details breakdown on the financing, see this feature from from May, 2022:

Update & feature: Revelstoke city sewage treatment plant proposed borrowing doubles to $7 million

School safety traffic project

The second borrowing bylaw is for $2 million, to be paid back over 15 years. The estimated cost to the average residential property is $22 per year, a staff report said.

The borrowing would be used to perform road safety projects around Columbia Park Elementary and Arrow Heights Elementary, including new signs, sidewalks and other traffic safety features.

The schools project was originally slated for construction this summer, but has since been delayed.

We reached out the the city communications department, the city engineering department, and to Coun. Tim Palmer, whose comments at the Aug. 9 council meeting revealed the project was not proceeding this summer. Only Palmer responded by deadline. He had also been the sole councillor opposed to completing the project this summer, saying he was not opposed to school the school safety project, but that construction was being rushed and it could lead to a diminished project, and that it could be better integrated with the ongoing transportation master planning process. “Hopefully with this funding delay the city will have a more robust plan that fully considers the master transportation plan. Obviously this project will not proceed until 2023 and will be subject to the incoming council budget deliberations,” Palmer said when reached for comment.

For details on what is planned, see this story from April, 2022:

Revelstoke city plans $2 million debt borrowing for school road traffic projects this summer

The alternative approval process

The alternative approval process (AAP) is a system whereby 10% of electors can petition against the proposal to block it. The system requires electors to sign an official petition created through the process in order to register their opposition.

If 10% of electors oppose the proposed borrowing, it stops it in this form, but does not necessarily end the proposal, in this case two separate borrowing bylaws. The city and council has a number of options, including cancelling the plan, revising the proposed plan, or proceeding to a referendum.

The AAP is considered to be the cheapest way to get elector approval when it is required by legislation, as is the case with major debt borrowing. The AAP process is typically selected when significant opposition to the proposed initiative isn’t anticipated.

Electors included resident and non-resident electors, including property owners who do not reside in Revelstoke. The city has set the number of electors required to oppose each borrowing bylaw at 753.

The deadline for electors to register their opposition is Sept. 20, 2022 and elector response forms will be available at city hall and can be sent, dropped off or faxed to city hall.

Aaron Orlando is a Revelstoke-based journalist who serves as creative director of and Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. He's been on the news beat in Revelstoke for the past 14 years, serving in senior editorial roles. If you have or call/text him at 250-814-8710.