Tapings of VCTV Council Meetings are invaluable to residents with travel, scheduling, health, job, or other conflicts. Coffee shop scrutineers are sometimes too timid to express opinion, some too reserved to bring concerns to Council, even to Administration, but woe to the politician who dismisses the silent engagements of the meek and silent majority. At very least televised Council Meetings are a one-way format to catch-up, for viewing ‘after-the-fact’, without the printed media filter, or truncations of the business of Council until direct, real time broadcasts from Chambers is possible, or as they have up in Prince George maybe? Residents may feel excluded from Council, the business of community or suffer loss of connectedness to it if the service was lost. Anyone living on a CPP Pension knows that a small pleasure, a tin of coffee which is stimulating and makes life special on a cold day in the community has alone risen in price, more than any monthly pension increase in more than 20 years. There are many household expenses to incur. It may not be for reason of any personal fault or apathy but if there is intention at Regional District Board level to vote against maintaining VCTV and its engaging local programming, I have a hunch any such move would be made only with the guilty parties feeling the blunt end of at least a few pairs of boots!

Two weeks ago Shaw Corporation announced higher subscription costs (and profits) and reductions in basic program package services for the New Year, 2015. VCTV programming, productions, and rebroadcasting has even higher community value now. ALL means and methods of retaining public interest in Council, engaging community interest, inspiring the healthy participation of a next generation of young people are important means and components of maintaining a healthy, local democracy. Council business best served with accountability and public comments served-up ‘openly.’ Available formats are suited to benefit not only the elderly, shut-ins, disabled, people with mobility challenges but serve ALL residents who did not speak, vote, or ask to be excluded from the agenda and public business of local Council. Many simply cannot afford to incur wireless, cable, phone or internet charges to watch TV broadcasts. There is actual, more than potential work at VCTV in promoting Tourism, bringing business here, as young people are mentored to maintain and serve the community as competent A-V specialists at Community Theatre performances.

Two were newly elected to Council. Mr. Reimer expressed support for democracy more than for the Kingdom of Valemount. Time will tell, but democratic process supports all options and available opportunities for public engagement. It did not go unnoticed, even unobserved during election time, or at post election swearing-in, the not-so-subtle suggestion that Valemount was not ‘on track’ to being a healthy and prosperous community. This community voted, expressed an impatience or need for results before 3 years, which now morphs to 4. The next Council Meeting program series had better be good, 2015 through to 2018! Before election 2014, Valemount may well have been drifted off the health and prosperity track, and possibly before the election of 2008. Dubious that two previous Councils were uninformed, unaware, ineffective, or entirely responsible for declining health of the community. I depends on optics and interpretation of words offered at the induction of the New Council.

It may be borne out when Village budget 2014 is reconciled, when a budget for 2015 comes out. Valemount remains, and may be among one of the last regions to recover in the wake of a very weak, global economic recovery. It’s no secret as oil prices fall- significantly these past six weeks, that Fort McMurray and Alberta may not be Valemount’s economic salvation. Nor tourism, nor luxury condo construction. The spectacle and sound of a pen striking away at Premium Plus medical and dental benefits, slicing across paper when most Councillors are without need of redundant coverage does not impress the electorate. Many required benefits, even basic dental benefits may not extend to Village people- except Village employees, but in times such as this, with so much at stake with high demands and expectations upon Mayor, Council, and employees only fools might have declined medical coverages IF it put work attendance or job performance at risk, if there was a demonstrated need with the offer, lack of spousal, pre-existing coverage, or lack of ability to pay.

In the spirit of the Christmas Season it might behoove our new Mayor and Council to simply cite appreciation, acknowledge a relatively excellent state of Village coffers. This is accomplished by competent oversights, study, checks and balances of previous Council and Administration. It takes a fiscal conservative mindset to appreciate Budget prudence! We have emergency reserves (surprise!), standing requests for infrastructure grants are fait-accompli! Applications for matching grants from 2 other levels of government- awaiting dispensation of the next (real, or imaginaery) federal Action Plan, or the next federal budget round of municipal infrastructure improvement grants. Healthy foundations and strengths as tangible, as visible, as hopeful as the legacy of the previous 3 years, even if a few were disgruntled amonst us. With CBT monies set to triple in the next 3-4 years, new Council and the community has even greater cause to inherit, celebrate, or just to be full of hope and sunshine!

Peter Fox
Valemount, BC