By: Korie Marshall, Editor

The idea of an organizational audit has got to be stressful for the people involved, but I don’t think the Village of Valemount’s staff needs to be too concerned, because I think they’ve been doing a pretty good job.

I don’t know all the ins and outs of what happens in the office and with Public Works, but I have been paying attention to a lot of it. Of course I’ve heard some rumours and grumblings in the community, questioning the value we are getting for our money. Questions like why does Valemount need so many staff when McBride has fewer? Is so-and-so qualified for such-and-such position? Why are these things done in this way, what was wrong with the way they used to be done?

I also hear people wanting the Village to do more – to provide more services, to make sure our sewer system won’t back up again, to make sure we have water in an emergency. Just don’t do that by charging us for services we aren’t using, and don’t raise our taxes either.

Everybody wants more for less, and it’s clear that the idea of an audit is usually intended to find ways of doing more with less.

But people often don’t recognize that those of us living in small, remote communities are already doing more with less.

Think about this – in a big city, the person who works in the sewer treatment plant (which you need certification for) doesn’t have to also work in the water treatment plant (which you need even more certification for) or drive the garbage truck, and do about a dozen other things. In Valemount, you do.

When we are short on doctors at the McBride hospital, staff from Valemount have to fill in, which probably includes them getting paid for travel time. And when we are short on ambulance staff, sometimes one ambulance has to be ready to cover both communities, which could make response time longer, and adds to the cost of the service. And we are short on ambulance staff, because the service isn’t funded enough to pay people full time, so those who do work for the ambulance have to be really flexible. That is just one big example of how we are spreading our resources, trying to get the best value for our dollars, while still trying to have services available. And those decisions are coming from outside of our communities. Why do we expect any easier decisions to be available within our communities?

I know people think this organizational review may find ways to save Valemount money, and it would be cool if it did. It may show that there are even more resourceful ways we can do things, and it will be interesting to see how we deal with that going forward. But I bet it’s going to show that the Village is resourceful, lean, and careful with our money, all while living up to regulations and standards and laws that apply to every community in the province, regardless of the fact that it is much harder and more expensive for us to live up to those standards.

I don’t know what the result of this audit will show – but I do know we’ve got diamonds in this valley. Some of them may be in the rough, but that is the way some of us like our diamonds.