by Andru McCracken, Editor
Residents are up in arms about a zoning change in favour of the Valemount College and the Valemount Affordable Rentals Society, but as far as I can see their proposal will guarantee that their neighbourhood will not become a slum. Valemount College is good for Valemount. Valemount Affordable Rentals Society is good for Valemount. The former Ramakada, an aging privately-owned hotel – had it changed hands – might not have been.
Proof of case
Convincing examples of well managed facilities include the Golden Years Lodge and the seniors complex on Cedar and 4th Avenue. They are run by a non-profit board. Don’t like how it’s run? Join the board.
Status quo not so rosy
The college property is currently zoned as a motel. Motels, even those so close to a cozy little neighbourhood, could be run in any fashion the owner chooses. To date, it has been run as an elegant little property. Is that necessarily its future? With a change in owner, it could become something entirely different.
Get ready: it’s coming
Change is hard and involves uncertainty. Having something big happen next to your home is unsettling, but we still should take a minute to think this thing through. No one has proposed a prison, a halfway house or a slum. They have simply proposed a college, some dorms and a residence with affordable rental units. Most British Columbians are eligible to live in affordable housing, and I’ll be willing to bet the Valemount Affordable Rentals Society will choose the very best of those applying.
Stay on track
Other people showed up to the meeting voice their opposition to the way that Valemount College is doing business. That has no place in a public hearing and that input should be discarded out of hand. A public hearing on land rezoning is not the place for that debate. Those who feel it’s misguided are welcome to their views, but those views shouldn’t influence council.
This town is growing
What we need in Valemount is more well-managed properties that are affordable for the people who make our community tick. There are lots of jobs that need to get done in Valemount that can not sustain a $300,000 mortgage. People still choose to move and work here because there is lots to do. But the result is there is a housing crunch. And the college will need space for students if there is to be a college at all, because right now we are at capacity as a community.
Addressing that need for housing, especially by a locally-run society, will make our housing situation better. Not worse.