The Alberta municipal elections wound up last week; it’s only just over a year before BC residents head to the polls.

Many of you in Valemount probably watch the Council meetings on TV; one meeting that isn’t televised but is also interesting for residents and prospective municipal leaders is the nascent Advisory Planning Commission.

The commission is a group of six residents selected by Valemount’s Council to discuss policy matters and give recommendations to Council. They help staff with the village planning issues that crop up in bylaws and policies.

The members of the commission applied for the spot on the commission, were interviewed by Council, and will serve a one year or two year term.

While it may make your head throb to think of attending one more meeting, if you are considering running for Council, the planning commission is a good one to check out. The first two meetings have made my head spin with the complexities of coming up with policies that work. Every idea has pros and cons. Then there is the question you ask yourself at the end: is any of this enforceable?

Right now the commission is discussing two very important bylaws – the bylaws governing street vendors and home-based businesses. Home-based businesses include home occupations, home industries, short-term vacation rentals, and Bed and Breakfasts. Street vendors/mobile vendors include everything from buskers to summertime food trucks to once-a-year fruit trucks.

This is ground zero for creating a competitive climate for businesses – both existing and start-ups.

You will be amazed at how difficult it is to come up with policies around these issues. It is a rabbit-hole of complexity. But that’s why the bylaws need to remain somewhat flexible – you’ll never be able to consider every single scenario.

While Council is not required to approve the commission’s recommendations, the commission considers possible policies in some detail.

If you’re thinking of running for office, this is one of many places to learn from.

The meetings are always held on the third Tuesday of the month at 7pm in Council Chambers.

By Laura Keil