Being new to the community I will admit that I do not claim to be an expert on how the Village council works or how bylaws are decided upon. I would, however, like to think that when major decision which affects a neighbourhood is made that at least a public consultation be part of the process.

In January, I received a letter from the Village Corporate Services Clerk, notifying landowners of the Village’s intent to consider a Variance Permit application for the empty lot directly across from my property. My curiosity was piqued but dismay soon set in when, the same day, the local paper came out with an article outlining the intent for the development. Another gas station. Understandably the village does not regulate competition for the existing gas stations, but surely there could be better use for the property development which could benefit the entire community.

Clearly council did not give any consideration to the residents of the affected community based on the responses received from questions sent in to the village office. In particular provisions for fencing and/or sound/noise barriers or other ways to reduce the sound or whether an acoustical engineer would be consulted. The Village does not have any plans to remove the trees on public property but the property owner may do so and there is no requirement to consult an acoustical engineer. Would it have been advantageous  to the neighbourhood to have some of those provisions?

Would it be an idle free zone to large transports? There is no legislation in place for idle free zones but wouldn’t this be a consideration to people in the affected neighbourhood? The proponent may operate 24 hours a day – again, would this have been a consideration to the people in the affected neighbourhood? If large transports end up parking on 17th Avenue overnight, idling, we, as a neighbourhood can call the RCMP or bylaw enforcement but otherwise we can just listen to them idle on the proponent’s property. Could the Village have imposed any additional requirements such as landscaping, hours of operation or at least a public consultation?

During the council meeting on January 23 letters sent in by the neighbourhood were not heard as apparently it was not the time or place. Since the variance has been passed by council when would be a good time to hear public concerns or opinions? In closing, I wonder if any members of council would be appreciative of a gas station built directly in line with their properties?

Dee May

Valemount, BC