I am writing in strong support of the mayor, council, and the staff of the Village of Valemount. During the May 14 council meeting and the special meeting on the 15th, this group of dedicated leaders stood up for the good of this village and its citizens. I write this from what I consider to be an “outsider’s” point of view. I have lived in this town since January. I love it here and consider this my home. Based on the future I want for my family, I feel they chose the hard, but right, path under strong criticism from the more vocal minority supporters of the matter at hand. It eludes me how anyone can be critical of this group when you consider the facts of the situation.
The landowner, who is 3 years behind in her taxes and already had a court-ordered tax sale of a property on 5th Avenue, was trying to rush the Village into signing a document that has huge legal ramifications for the village. (And yes, as taxes are a matter of public record and paying them a comment on character, this is an excellent point to bring up in the council meeting!). By all accounts there was no dragging of feet village. The village practiced due diligence through research and seeking legal council. They were advised, just a few hours prior to the meeting, that the original agreement as it was written was not a legally binding document and could result in significant exposure to legal actions from the developer. The lawyers advised the village to not sign it. If you hire a lawyer to advise you, shouldn’t you follow their advice? If you read the legal framework that municipalities have to navigate for things of this nature, any regular citizen voted into the office would be just as burdened. And suddenly the developer requires it signed by the end of the week? Whose problem should it be, the person that didn’t pay their taxes or the taxpayers who will suffer if the boat capsizes?
This was a very difficult matter for the staff and council. It was visible that the council was torn, and in the end they all did the right thing by protecting our village from the risk of exposure and ruin. The Mayor spoke his mind, and whether you agree with him or not, it is impressive to see someone in the job that is passionate about what he believes is right for this village. Regardless of the speculation around Saas Fee and other possible developments, I think it is the responsibility of the citizens to make sure we are educated before we light the torches and burn down the council chambers. Those that support the council should stand up and be accounted for. You can disagree with their decisions and still support their hard work and effort. This group needs to hear the village’s support in what they do, not just constant criticism from the peanut gallery! We all have to live together, and in the end, it’s not about any one of us. It’s about the village as a whole. If the village prospers, we can all prosper.