The Village of Valemount has appointed six people to its first-ever Advisory Planning Commission.

Rundi Anderson, John (Jake) Derksen, Paul Johnson, Dan Kenkel, Bill Kruisselbrink and Owen Torgerson will sit on the brand-new independent body, composed of local residents, which will provide advice to Council on land use, community planning, proposed permits and potential bylaws.

“The people who are selected have a wide range of experience and we were really blessed with applicants who have done everything from bylaw enforcement to park warden to some people very grounded in community from ages past,” says Mayor Andru McCracken. “It is a little bit wider range of folks than we have on council; for instance, we don’t have anyone on Council who has been here for more than 12 years.”

“Fundamentally, we’re a small town with a small staff, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have big issues to tackle,” McCracken says. “That’s why the APC is incredibly intelligent.”

Section 898 of the Local Government Act empowers Council to establish an APC to provide input on Official Community Plan amendments, Zoning Bylaw updates, Rezoning Applications, Development Permit Applications, Development Variance Permit Applications and other Community Planning Projects, as requested by Council.

Valemount Deputy Corporate Officer Braden Hutchines says there are a number of significant benefits provided by an APC. For one, it involves and engages more citizens in the development of the Village.

“This is important, because when citizens can meaningfully contribute to the planning process, the better the community will be,” he wrote in a backgrounder submitted to the Goat.

Hutchins adds that Council cannot be expected to have the past experience or the time to consider all land use decisions sufficiently. An APC allows Council to tap into the time and dedication of those interested in land use planning. A commission also provides an extra layer of screening for important planning decisions, he says.

The commission, which will meet for the first time in the next few weeks, will help address emerging land use and planning issues like regulations for street vendors and mobile vendors; a scale-based tiered approach for Home Occupations; short-term housing rentals; long-term RV parking; and parking along 5th Avenue for trucks with trailers.

McCracken says having a group of residents with a better understanding of the decisions council is trying to make will help forge a deeper relationship between council and the citizenry.

The Village advertised openings for the APC in The Rocky Mountain Goat, the Valley Sentinel, on the Village website and on Facebook. An APC Application Form and related Guidelines were made available on the Village website and at the front counter of the Village Office. The application deadline was July 15th.

Fourteen applications were received. Eleven applicants were residents of Valemount and three applicants were residents of the Regional District.
Each applicant was interviewed by Council in early August. Applicants were asked to speak about why they were applying to the APC, what skills/experience they would bring to the APC and what they envisioned for Valemount five years from now, according to Hutchins’ backgrounder.

Half the members of the commission will be replaced each year, ensuring that at least three members have knowledge of previous decision making. Council will appoint three new members each year.

All commission meetings are open to the public.

By: Laura Keil