by EVAN MATTHEWS
The B.C. government has approved a $35,000 Restructure Planning Grant to the Village of Valemount for its municipal boundary extension study that would include a proposed destination resort.
The grant will enable Village of Valemount officials and staff — and the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George (RDFFG) — to study the impact, benefits and challenges involved in extending the village’s municipal boundary to include the proposed Valemount Glacier Destination (VGD) Resort, according to the Province.
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.
“I commend the Village of Valemount and the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George for taking a collaborative approach,” says Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.
“Our government is pleased to support their efforts by providing the resources to enable a thorough study of the implications of a municipal boundary extension,” he says.
VGD is proposing to build a year-round resort, including ski lifts, residential development and hotel just west of the village. The resort proponent requires an approved master development agreement with the Province before the project can proceed.
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 — Valemount Economic Development Officer Silvio Gislimberti.
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.
“Valemount Glacier Destination Resort represents an exciting, unique opportunity for our community to attract global tourists and help build a prosperous future, and we were pleased to see the completion of the master plan process,” says Valemount Mayor, Jeannette Townsend.
“Now we can take another step forward with a professional study of municipal boundary expansion,” she says.
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.
In February, Mayor Townsend told 250 News the Village had confirmed its decision to extend its boundary to the proposed VGD ski resort saying, “It will be a satellite boundary expansion.”
Village staff later said the Mayor’s comments were “hugely premature” pointing to the need to secure funding for the boundary extension study, to actually do the study, and subsequently make a decision.
The goal of the study is to identify 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.
Ministry staff continues to work with the Village and the RDFFG to finalize the boundary extension study terms of reference and a cost-sharing agreement that includes the Village’s contribution of $20,000.