05/28/2013 09:53 EDT | Updated 07/28/2013 05:12 EDT

Kootenay communities threatened by Trail's expansion bid

The western Kootenay city of Trail wants to expand its boundaries down to the U.S. border, but neighbouring communities stand to lose a tax base if the city limits go south.

Trail Mayor Deiter Bogs says the city hopes to annex a thin strip of land south of the community which has a railway terminal, an industrial park, an airport and a hydro dam currently undergoing a major expansion.

The unincorporated industrial areas in the Columbia Gardens area along the Waneta Highway represent $76 million in assets, and all the taxes that go with them.

Bogs says the city wants to continue to develop the industrial area.

"The main reason that we are interested in it is that we feel that this area will then be available for the City of Trail to really be aggressive as far as economic development," he said.

But the neighbouring Beaver Valley communities of Montrose and Fruitvale, and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, are strongly opposed to the expansion.

Regional district director Ali Grieve says the smaller communities rely on the taxes the current land uses bring in.

"Beaver Valley residents all heavily rely on the taxation from the industrial park and the Waneta Dam for a sustainable healthy community," she said.

"[Losing the tax base] will impact not only recreation services, but small community grants and everything else most communities want — a healthy sustainable community that attracts families."

Bogs says Trail is negotiating with the other communities as well as companies and utilities that have a stake in the land, and already has Teck Resources, which operates the Trail smelter, onside.

The provincial government will ultimately decide whether Trail can annex the land.