Submitted by Councillor Dallas Bullock
I am writing this on behalf of the ‘muzzled’ councillors of the Village of Valemount.
It is neither with indifference or ignorance that there has not been a response to the editor of the Rocky Mountain Goat on Bylaw 707, 2013; Council Remuneration. It is easy to explain why we voted in favor of a 2% Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) increase at the public meeting at the end of January, 2014.
Politics are not for the faint of heart and it comes with a steep learning curve as well as vocal community feedback. The more passionate and involved or ambitious you choose to be on behalf of the success of your community, the more time, effort and energy it requires. As any job is worth doing well, hopefully the stipend will reflect that and is enough to entice other individuals to choose to participate in the joy and frustration of being a civil servant.
The process of how we came to Council Remuneration Bylaw 707, 2013, questioned by the editor, is little more complicated, but fully explainable. It was read for the 1st and 2nd time November 12th, 2013. Council initially approved 3rd reading on November 26th as per Res # 448/13. This was when one of our councillors noticed the COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) piece had not been included in the bylaw as it had been in the past.
In conclusion, on December 10th, 2013, the bylaw was repealed at 3rd reading by Res # 469/13. This allowed for the inclusion of the 2% COLA increase on the said bylaw at the January 14th, 2014 meeting, read for the 4th time and unanimously favored.
In past years, the discussion of council remuneration happened in-camera. This was because it was coupled with discussions on staff wages which is not public as it falls under ‘labour’. We then brought the council remuneration piece to the public meeting. We have separated the two. It has been a learning opportunity in understanding that we didn’t need to follow that previous process, and in the future we can do things differently and be even more transparent by having the discussion publicly from the beginning. This has big value, as it is important for the community to see the conversations we have around the bylaws we pass, it educates and empowers people to give feedback and further the conversation.
Please understand that every new council inherits old policy, procedure and bylaws. It is an interesting history, puzzling and some of it completely archaic. This is no one’s fault, only a testament of how much change occurs year after year and the work it takes to keep up.
I can say this with confidence, your present mayor, council and staff have been doing excellent work to update, improve and create policy, procedure and bylaw, to best support the growth of Valemount and where it is today.
A thank-you to the editor for the opportunity to clarify this and continue to be engaged with our local politics.