Simmons stays for subdivisions

Village of Valemount CAO Adam Davey says nobody on staff, aside from Gord Simmons, has the skilset required by the position of Subdivision Approval Officer. / EVAN MATTHEWS

by EVAN MATTHEWS

The Goat has learned the Village of Valemount’s former interim-CAO Gord Simmons is staying on in a different capacity.

Council has appointed Simmons as the Village’s Subdivision Approval Officer (SAO). Simmons says the volume of subdivision applications will determine how often he works, something the Village echoed.

“The more (applications) that come in, the more often Gord will be working,” says Village CAO Adam Davey.

“Gord has over three decades of experience in this area with an unrivalled knowledge of the Fraser Fort-George Regional District’s land use, to include the Village of Valemount. The Village is very fortunate to have him stay on-board in this capacity,” says Davey.

Simmons, who doesn’t live in the Robson Valley, says he does the same job for the Village of McBride and work from anywhere.

Council appoints the position, though the position is autonomous from Council.

Simmons described to The Goat a little bit about how subdivisions work in a very general sense. For instance, a developer walks in the Village door and wants a subdivision in order create more individual lots. The Village gathers more information about what the developer intends to do and asks about any development plans, Simmons says, which is where the clear separation between the SAO and the Village comes in.

The developer asks Village administration what it will require in reference to Village Bylaws and the Official Community Plan, things like sewer, roads, streetlights, sidewalks, etc., he says, depending on where the subdivision is.

“The more (applications) that come in, the more often Gord will be working,” says Village CAO Adam Davey.

The SAO enforces Provincial regulations within the municipality, according to Simmons, such as — depending on the number of lots — forcing the developer to provide adequate green space or money in lieu; or ensuring the frontage of every property is at least 10 per cent of the property’s circumference, both Provincial requirements, as a couple examples.

If the developer cannot meet the Provincial regulations, Simmons says the developer can go back to the Village and ask them to waive the requirements. Even though the Province is the bigger entity, the Village’s say-so takes precedent, Simmons says.

Because the Village does not have to hire a full-time Planner or SAO, Davey says the Village and the taxpayer are benefiting from the arrangement.

“It is also worth noting that the SAO position requires a specific skill-set and certification — the only staff member that fits this criteria is Gord Simmons,” says Davey.

Simmons told The Goat he has land-surveying experience, which speaks to the specific and required skill-set mentioned previously mentioned by Davey.

Subdivisions are often an indication of future development, according to Simmons, and he told The Goat in January 2017 he completed two subdivision applications dating back to September 2016, when he was first brought in.

Whether the Village has completed any more subdivisions since January, The Goat could not find out by presstime.

Prior to being the Village’s interim-CAO, Simmons had been retired for seven-and-a-half years, but had spent the 25 years prior working for the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George’s planning department.

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