Re: April 30, 2014 Editorial – “Valemountain Days – an exception?”
I was saddened to read Korie Marshall’s April 30th editorial, “Valemountain Days – an exception?” Just as Council had, Ms. Marshall has also missed the point. Unfortunately, Ms. Marshall also chose to resort to offensive name-calling and to making unsupported allegations.
The Valemount Sports Days Association (VSDA) applied to Council, as it has for the past 34 years, to waive the rental fees on community facilities for the annual summer community event, Valemountain Days. It should have come as no surprise to any member of Council or Village administration that such a request would be forthcoming. In fact, Councillor Blanchette served on this committee as Treasurer for many years, until the fall of 2013. Her daughter is the current Treasurer of VSDA.
At no time, however, did Village Council or administration formally reach out to the VSDA committee, or even informally, speak to any committee member to inform them prior to the April 22nd Council meeting that the waiving of fees for community facilities would no longer be accommodated under a new Council policy – a common courtesy one would expect in a small town where everyone knows each other. There was also no public mention at any prior council meeting that a major policy shift had been taken and that user fees for non-profit groups for community-run facilities would no longer be waived. Valemount citizens have a right to know when long-standing public policies such as this are changed.
The point, Ms. Marshall, was not the user fees themselves and how VSDA would pay them. No one is going to allow $600 in surprise fees to bring down an entire community fair that has been planning for months. Solutions will be found. The point was, and remains, that Valemountain Days is an annual community fair desired by and enjoyed by many Valemount residents and visitors. Every community puts on some kind of summer fair or festival for its citizens. Does every single person from the community attend? Probably not. But does that mean the event is not something the community as a whole wants, or that it shouldn’t be supported by its local government? Every community deserves the right to celebrate itself and have fun at least once a year. Citizens already pay taxes to build and maintain community facilities. Is it right that they be asked to pay for them again through rentals so they have a place to hold their community summer fair events?
I take particular exception to these comments you made in your editorial, which are both incorrect and mean-spirited. You said, “I take offense to the idea that this event is so much more important than other non-profit events that come to the Village for support.”
Valemountain Days never claimed to be “so much more important than other non-profit events that come to the Village for support.” In my Facebook thread on this topic, I never stated nor implied that this event was more important that any others that come to the Village for support, only that it was important to the community.
You also stated, “And I think for one of those groups to stand up and say they are more deserving than anyone else – that is egotistical and not community minded.”
Again, no one said that the Valemount Sports Days Association is more deserving than anyone else (of having fees on community buildings waived). “Egotistical and not community minded”? How offensive of you to cast these slurs against a volunteer organization trying to put on a community summer fair. What a slap in the face to a group of incredibly hard-working volunteers. You owe them all an apology.
Everyone involved with VSDA fully appreciates everything the Village “does for the festival”, as you say. And you say this like Valemountain Days is an event put on by a private group for a select few. VM Days is a community event for Valemount. Many people in the community have and continue to donate a huge amount of time, money and support to plan and put on VM Days. The Village of Valemount is expected to do its part and be a major player and supporter of its own community’s summer fair. Their Public Works contributions are an integral part of making VM Day happen and are greatly appreciated.
In closing, I’ll just say that this decision of Council to not waive fees this year, however well-intended it may have been, was very poorly timed. Had anyone from Council or Village administration chosen to formally or informally announce this change of direction regarding the waiver of fees, this entire matter would have likely become a non-issue that could have been worked out ahead of any request going to Council. A small town shouldn’t have this much trouble with communication. Sadly, it seems to on many matters.
You were right, Ms. Marshall, when you said “… if all you can see is that the Village said no to waiving $600 in fees, then I am sure nothing I say will change your mind.” . I see bigger things here; matters of principle like community spirit and people working together towards a common goal – to help Valemount celebrate itself and the generations of great people who built this town and who still call it home. You wouldn’t charge people to come to a party in your home would you? Of course not. That’d be just downright un-neighbourly.