by EVAN MATTHEWS
The Village of Valemount is making some preparations for the Valemount Glacier Destinations Resort (VGD) which is still awaiting its Master Development Agreement (MDA) with the Province.
Earlier this week, a Village staffer told The Goat the Province said the signing of the Master Development Agreement (MDA) is “imminent.”
At its Jan. 24 meeting, Council voted in favour of drafting a letter to the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, in partnership with Regional District of Fraser-Fort George (RDFFG), with the request of starting a Governance and Boundary Extension Process in response to the proposed — and provincially approved — VGD project.
In 2013, the previous Council had commissioned a study to examine whether or not the Village should extend its boundary to the resort, but the study was dropped by the current Council – until now.
To start the Governance and Boundary Extension Process, the Village and RDFFG need to submit a formal request to the Ministry supported by a Council Resolution and a RDFFG resolution, according to a report written by Economic Development Officer, Silvio Gislimberti.
The governance and boundary extension process is supposed to help the Village Council, RDFFG and Valemount area residents consider how the ski resort will be governed – whether it be part of the Village, Regional District, or its own municipality. The Village of Valemount could incorporate it by a contiguous or satellite boundary extension, according to Gislimberti.
A goal of the study is to identify the pros and cons to different options. Another goal is to evaluate alternatives that are in line with the community’s objectives, though what those are is not stated.
The study will examine: services such as sewer and water to the area of extension, the financial health of local government, additional areas of responsibility, community identity and cohesion, and current tax rates.
A governance study must also include a cost benefit analysis, Gislimberti says, by identifying costs for the VGD base area and controlled recreation area, potential revenues, and current tax rates for properties located both within the current municipal boundary of Valemount and unincorporated areas within the area of the proposed extension.
The MDA is a signed contract between the resort proponent and the Province, managed by Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
The Province says the MDA conveys rights to the resort developer and operator, to develop the resort in accordance with the Master Plan, which outlines the scope and layout of the recreational, residential and commercial developments.
One of the last major milestones for VGD was having the Province approve its Master Plan, which happened in August 2016.
“Our biggest celebration will be when we have the MDA, which is also a very important precondition for the financing of the project and the beginning of construction. If things go well, we will accomplish this by winter so that we can start construction next summer,” – Oberto Oberti, resort designer (August 2016)
The RDFFG finished the area’s rezoning and OCP amendment in the same month, according to the Province. In September 2016, the Simpcw First Nation signed the Impact and Benefit Agreement with VGD, which is a requirement of the MDA.
Shortly after the Province approved the Master Plan, Oberto Oberti — the resort’s designer — said the Master Plan is a crucial step and milestone, but it is not the final step before construction.
“We have always been careful not to raise expectation beyond what is certain at each stage of the process.”
After Provincial approval, the next step is completing the MDA.
“Our biggest celebration will be when we have the MDA, which is also a very important precondition for the financing of the project and the beginning of construction. If things go well, we will accomplish this by winter so that we can start construction next summer,” Oberti wrote in August.
Tommaso Oberti, son of Oberto and fellow designer, told The Goat that a December 2017 opening would likely be pushed back at this point.