By Andru McCracken

Council held their regular council meeting on November 26, 2019. Mayor Owen Torgerson and councilors Donnie Maclean, Pete Pearson, Sheri Gee and Hollie Blanchette were present, as were Chief Administrative Officer Wayne Robinson, and Deputy Corporate Officer Carleena Shepherd.

Public Comments
The meeting began with a public comment period.

Beth Russell, a director of the Valemount Senior Citizens Housing Society and a member of the Valemount Cares committee spoke about how important it is that seniors age in their communities and how cruel it is that they have to leave, when she was abruptly shut down at the two minute mark.

Linda Hedberg, seconded Russell’s comments hoping for support from council.

Betty Hannis spoke about how her mother, Alice Mortensen had to leave the community because of a lack of facilities. “Her life and ours would have been so much better. There are more and more elderly people in Valemount,” she said.

Ann McKirdy-Carson gave a similar account of how difficult it is to look after her mother who lives in neighbouring McBride.

“Presently, there are more long term residents from Valemount in McBride than from McBride. It is not conducive to a home-like atmosphere,” she said.

A member of the public stood up and asked that council give seniors an opportunity to be heard.

Resident Eugene Jamin asked the presenters to direct their comments to Valemount Senior Citizens Housing Society.

Rashmi Narayan said that she worried the CBT Community Initiatives grant program might not be responsive enough to seniors.

“I am concerned their voices won’t be heard,” she said.

Stephanie Han rose to speak to utility increases, but the mayor said the item was not on the agenda so it couldn’t be spoken to. The item was on the agenda under Fees and Charges Bylaw. After the meeting, Torgerson said he would speak to Han personally.

Torgerson welcomed Art Kaehn, chair of the Regional District of Fraser Fort George and as well as CAO Jim Martin.

Council gave their support to a proposal to build an amphitheatre at R.W. Starratt Marsh.

Isla Jackman and Maymie Taggart said the building would be a cultural and outdoor educational building designed with indoor classrooms and an outdoor amphitheatre design.

The area would have a better parking lot, picnic tables, access to bathrooms, and waste disposal.

Council gave their blessing to a Christmas Parade during the Village’s annual Late Night Shopping.

Mayor Torgerson said that council doesn’t have the authority to withhold money for a special project as requested by Valemount Cares, a subcommittee of the Valemount Senior Citizens Housing Society.

He said an extended care facility would have broad public support and should go through the regular process.

Councilor Blanchette said she and Councilor Pearson would try to help the seniors get an application for a project like that together.

Council Appointments
Counc. Blanchette, Gee and MacLean were appointed to the Parcel Tax Roll Review Panel.

Pearson was appointed to the Tourism Valemount Committee, and Gee as the alternate.

Gee was appointed to the Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Programs (CIP/AAP) Committee;

Blanchette and MacLean were appointed to the Clean Air Task Force;

Blanchette was appointed as the Northern Health Liaison and the Housing Committee;

Pearson was appointed to the Valemount Historic Society;

Gee was appointed to the Prince George Treaty Advisory Committee;

MacLean was appointed to the Valemount Entertainment Society;

Pearson was appointed to the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway Association, and Mayor Torgerson as the alternate;

Mayor Torgerson was appointed as the Municipal Finance Authority of BC liaison, and Gee as the alternate;

MacLean was appointed as the Municipal Insurance Association of BC liaison, and Blanchette as the alternate;

Gee was appointed as the Simpcw First Nation Liaison;

MacLean was appointed to the Columbia River Treaty Local Government Committee and the Columbia Basin Regional Advisory Committee.

Council moved to revise a Request for Proposals for Accessibility Renovations at the Community Services Building in order to stay within a grant provided by the Rick Hansen Foundation in the amount of $17,810.

Blanchette asked council to talk to the tenant Robson Valley Community Services to see if they had funding available to help.

Love Valemount
Council decided to apply to the Northern Development Initiative Trust to continue the Love Valemount buy local program for 2020.

Affordable Housing Plan
Council asked staff to send a letter to Valemount Community Forest requesting permission to use $3,000 to verify the target tenant demographic for the Valemount Affordable Housing Development Plan application.

The CBT Proposal Development Funding requires a study showing the demographics of potential tenants and the number of units needed for the rental housing project.

Council changed the Robson Valley Community Services lease as they take over a space vacated by the Valemount Learning Society.

Bylaws and Policies
Council adopted Reserve Fund Bylaw No. 804.

Council gave Business License and Regulation Bylaw No. 805 first and second reading and will hold a public hearing on December 10.

Council adopted their pay increase in Remuneration Bylaw No. 811.

Council gave 1st, 2nd and 3rd reading to the Village of Valemount Fees and Charges Bylaw No. 813 which includes increases to utility fees. Fourth and final reading will occur at the Dec. 10th meeting.

Council gave their reports and then closed the meeting and proceeded in camera for two items: labour relations and the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements.