Village still exploring boundary extension
by EVAN MATTHEWS
It would seem Valemount Mayor Jeannette Townsend is playing her comments fast and loose regarding the Village’s potential boundary extension to encompass the proposed Valemount Glacier Destinations resort.
Last week, Mayor Townsend told 250 News that the Village has confirmed its decision to extend its boundary to the proposed VGD ski resort saying, “It will be a satellite boundary expansion.”
Village CAO, Adam Davey says to assume Valemount’s VGD boundary will be a satellite boundary expansion is “hugely premature.”
“We are not expanding the boundary. We’re exploring the steps required to do so,” Davey said of where things sit currently.
“We want to make sure our homework is done,” — Valemount CAO Adam Davey
In a response to the Goat’s questions, Davey says the Mayor was basing her comments on a 2004 study that looked at the Village expanding its boundaries to encompass the then-proposed Canoe Mountain Gondola resort project.
That study analyzed the governance structure, potential growth, financial analysis, etc., according to the Village. The study suggested that a satellite inclusion of the Canoe Mountain Gondola base area would be beneficial for the Village (satellite meaning the resort area would not connect geographically to the rest of the Village).
The Canoe Mountain Gondola never happened and the study was shelved.
In January, the Village drafted a letter to the Province seeking support to look at the boundary extension process to the proposed VGD resort site, which is located in the regional district on Crown land. The Village has not received a response to its request as yet.
If the Province gives its support, the Village would then apply for grants to fund the study and a Request for Proposals could be issued in May or June 2017, Davey says, adding it’s possible the study could be completed by January 2018.
The goal of the study is to identify the pros and cons to different boundary options, such as new tax revenue from the resort versus the cost of supplying new services like water and sewer to the resort base.
“We want to make sure our homework is done,” Davey said.
Section 20 of the Local Government Act describes the requirements for applying for a municipal boundary extension from the Province.
If and when the boundary extension study is done, Council would be provided with results, consult with the public, and then make a decision, according to Village staff.
The Village cannot extend the boundary simply by Council resolution – it
would require either an assent vote, otherwise known as a referendum, by current Village residents, or the Village could gain electoral approval through “an alternative approval process” prior to asking the Minister to consider a boundary extension.
In reference to the boundary extension study, there are at least three potential options: the resort would become part of the Village by way of satellite or contiguous boundary extensions, the resort could stay within the regional district’s jurisdiction, or it could be its own municipality.
While Mayor Townsend appears to be confident the resort will end up part of the Village by the way of satellite extension, the residents of the Village and the Province will ultimately have final say.
Village staff says everyone is still waiting on the final piece to VGD’s puzzle — the signed Master Development Agreement (MDA).
“It should be anytime now,” a staff member told The Goat.
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.
Though an opening date in December 2017 was originally planned, Tommaso Oberti, fellow resort designer and son of Oberto, told The Goat a December 2017 opening would likely be pushed back.