In the last two issues of the Goat, Rebecca Lerch and Alison Kubbos wrote letters about the potential impact of Valemount Glacier Destination Resort. Lerch was concerned about the end of the community’s charm and Kubbos described a threat to its social ecology. These are really important things to think about as the community moves forward (though as far as environmental impact goes, I believe a ski resort has a fairly light touch).
Both writers care deeply about Valemount which is awesome.
Both writers believe that we don’t know quite what we’re bringing on our community. This is true. Change is uncertain. And often we don’t get to have a hand in making change happen or changing it’s impact. I do really appreciate Kubbos’ point that making change does imbue our lives with meaning.
They both acknowledge that as a community we have signed up for this resort thing, whether we worked towards it, signed a petition for it, or were just silent and let things play out.
I agree with so much of what they are saying, but unlike them I am excited for the change, and anxious to be a part of it.
The resort does threaten our sense of place, our social ecology or charm, but I think that’s okay. I think if it’s something we consider, and something we work on it will be awesome. How do I know? Our track record.
This is a reflection that I think tempers the potential gloom of the unknown future: Change happens whether we want it to or not. We’re not a little town in a snow globe that stays the same for forever.
Case in point: I remember when this community had the beating heart ripped out of it. The mill closed and it changed this community forever. The fabric of the community was torn in two. So many important families were torn away. Few of us could imagine at that time that we’d still be lucky enough to live here (and many don’t) or that living here 10 years later would be a good thing.
Having the mill close was never our ideal, but we lived through it, worked through it. Today, Valemount is still a beautiful place to be that many people love.
The resort, much more than the mill closure is an opportunity to become more like the community we want to be. It is something that the community has brought into being. Something we’ve supported. Something we have anticipated.
It is something we can help shape.
As mayor back in the day, I asked other mountain resort communities throughout BC what the biggest threats to their communities were, my take away was that housing is something we need to manage. A great focus for folks who are interested in dealing with the resort impacts intelligently would be a housing strategy to allow for home ownership for people who aren’t super rich. Keeping Valemount affordable for folks who live and work here is vital. A great crush of people already want to own property here and that holds challenges for more than just the local realtors.
We’ve all got a role to play. Lerch and Kubbos do a good job raising the alarm. I think we need to continue to focus on the Valemount we want, and continue to work to bring that into being.