Tensions rise between Council members
by EVAN MATTHEWS
Whether the Village of Valemount will move forward with a Coat of Arms sparked debate among Council last week.
Council voted in favour of beginning the process of applying for a grant for an armorial bearing for the Village.
But the decision didn’t come without questions.
“We have a brand. Is that not the same as a Coat of Arms?” asked Councillor Owen Torgerson. “We spent quite a bit of marketing time and money on our brand. I’m just not seeing the need for expenditure on a Coat of Arms.”
A coat of arms is a symbol granted by the Canadian Crown, according to a report written by the Village’s Corporate Services Clerk, Carleena Shepherd.
Each coat of arms is a grant of honour from the Crown, given in recognition of the importance of a community or institution to Canada, according to the report.
“These are people who have worked very hard and who have lived here 50 or 60 years, and longer,” – Valemount Mayor, Jeannette Townsend
“I think if you look into it, most municipalities do have a coat of arms,” said Mayor Jeannette Townsend.
“The thought to bring this forward now is because… there are many people who have worked and contributed to the community we enjoy,” she said.
Though advocating for people who built the community, at no point did Mayor Townsend name a specific person, family or organization.
“These are people who have worked very hard and who have lived here 50 or 60 years, and longer,” she said.
Councillor Salt entered the discussion by questioning how much the coat of arms would cost.
“My research (shows)… the minimum is going to be $2,400, plus two invoices we’d be receiving from an artist and a calligrapher,” said Coun. Salt.
“I have to agree with Councillor Torgerson,” she said.
The Mayor suggested the cost to the Village would be minimal, as the initial proposal is for the Village to seek out grants to have the coat of arms designed.
“We don’t know that for sure,” said Coun. Salt, who then challenged the rationale for even considering the idea.
“I’m wondering how this report even came to us, and why staff has spent time on something that hasn’t been brought to Council for us to even ask staff to look into it,” said Coun. Salt.
“I think we need to go through budget and see where we stand before we even consider something like this,” she said before being cut off by the Mayor.
“Councillor Salt, it wasn’t intended for the Village to eat the cost,” said Mayor Townsend.
“There would be grants available for this. I don’t see Council actively involved in this,” she said.
“Why are you being aggressive toward me tonight?” Councillor Salt asked Mayor Townsend
Visibly frustrated, Coun. Salt asked Mayor Townsend if the issue pertained to the coat of arms.
“Why are you being aggressive toward me tonight?” asked Coun. Salt.
“I’m sorry?” the Mayor replied, and while heated, the conversation returned to the coat of arms.
“You were saying this would be too much money to include on our budget, but it won’t be included in the budget,” said Mayor Townsend.
“I still don’t see the value in having a coat of arms,” said Salt. “I don’t see it.”
Coun. Hollie Blanchette suggested tabling the discussion until the Feb. 28 meeting, saying she wasn’t privy to all the information, nor was Coun. Torgerson.
Mayor Townsend replied by saying the decision could be made away from Council.
“Would this be better served by the interested parties organizing a society, then having that society apply for grants?” asked Coun. Peter Reimer.
Mayor Townsend said she would pass on the message to “them,” though failing to mention who put the proponent was.
“But as I said, there are quite a few who have lived here for a long time who have initiated that,” she said.
Coun. Blanchette asked if the Village would want input if the coat of arms would represent the Village.
“Those details can be ironed out,” said Townsend.
“But I should like to be able to tell them that the Village is not going to object. I wouldn’t want to inform them that Council objects to them pursuing the design of a coat of arms for the Village of Valemount.
“Each detail can be worked out as we come to it,” said the Mayor.
Finally, Coun. Torgerson motioned Council move forward with staff exploring grant options only.
Mayor Townsend said it was all she wanted in the first place.
“There is a great history to be had here,” said the Mayor. “There is formal process to follow.”
However, Coun. Salt made sure to make note of one last request.
“In the future, I would hope that some of these people that have these ideas and these discussions would submit it in a written letter to go on an agenda for Council to consider, rather than it coming in this way,” said Coun. Salt.
“It would make the process a little clearer. We’re expected to give transparency and respect, and it would be nice for it rather than being just a discussion that is hearsay as far as I’m concerned.
“I would feel more comfortable that way,” she said.
“All in favour,” the Mayor asked.