Mayor’s remarks cause for concern

RMG file photo
Jeannette Townsend

by EVAN MATTHEWS, editor

Valemount residents have been advocating for a ski resort for years. The process has been well thought out, meticulous, and careful throughout every phase.

It seems like the mayor is now taking a different tack.

Last week, Mayor Townsend talked to 250 News about the proposed Village boundary extension to the resort site, saying, “It will be a satellite boundary expansion.”

This comment is dangerous, because extending the boundaries has huge implications for Village residents, and the statement she made isn’t true. Village staff later clarified that the Mayor was basing her comments on a 2004 study on the proposed Canoe Mountain Gondola project – an entirely different project in a different location.

Does the Mayor fail to see these are two completely different projects?

As we’ve outlined in multiple stories, there is a lot to do before the Village — or anyone else for that matter — will understand the best option in respect to the resort’s governance.

The long story short is this — the Village (in partnership with the regional district) needs provincial support to even start the boundary extension study. Once the Village has support, it would have to secure funding to conduct a governance study in order to analyze which option makes the most sense.

Options include the resort becoming part of the Village by way of satellite or contiguous boundary extensions, the resort staying within the regional district’s jurisdiction, or ending up as its own municipality.

So this all begs the question, why does it matter who ends up governing the resort? Answer: taxes and services.

Revelstoke’s Resort, which opened in late 2007, is unlike most other B.C. ski resorts because it is part of the municipality.

Revelstoke expanded the city’s boundaries to encompass the base of the resort.

At the time, the Mayor of Revelstoke said it was a catch-22 because the city is chasing the tax revenue, but it also has to provide services.

The City of Revelstoke purchased a $1-million fire truck to service a multi-story building near the base of the resort. While there are no other buildings in town of its size, city firefighters have to be prepared to extinguish a blaze everywhere within the city’s boundaries. In 2013, the mayor said the City had yet to directly profit monetarily from the development of the ski hill.

This is a good example of why a governance study is needed, as we don’t know what services the Village would provide in exchange for tax dollars.

So where is the Mayor’s accountability on this matter? Is she not taking the Village’s boundary seriously?

The Mayor is speaking out of turn by saying it will be a satellite expansion. Her other quotes are also misleading: “Eventually the expansion will mean more tax dollars for Valemount” and “it is the developer who will have to cover all the costs of the infrastructure.”

She cannot say this responsibly because she doesn’t know.

Either she dropped the ball by not explaining the process correctly or she is making a massive assumption that this resort is the same as another proposed 13 years ago.

  • John P. Grogan

    If “it is the developer who will have to cover all the costs of the infrastructure”, then why is the taxpayer paying for the feasibility study?