Valemount council: No to backhoe; new public art committee

By Andru McCracken


Valemount Council held a virtual meeting April 28. Councillors Hollie Blanchette, Pete Pearson, Sheri Gee and Donalda McLean and Mayor Owen Torgerson attended. Chief Administrative

Officer Wayne Robinson was also present.

Accounting
KPMG gave an overview of the village’s consolidated financial statements.

“There is an expectation that there will be infrastructure stimulus programs coming out of government; we’re recommending to our municipal clients to make sure they have projects that are essentially shovel ready,” said the presenter.

Council received the presentation without questions.

“Another clean bill of health, I’d like to thank Lori (Chief Financial Officer) for a job well done,” said Blanchette.

Reading File
Council supported the community of Hazelton’s request to have municipalities under 10,000 be eligible to apply for community gaming grants.

Craig Correspondence
MacLean brought up a letter written by resident David Craig wondering why the village is hiring a new employee and buying a new backhoe when COVID is having such a toll on the economy.

Robinson said the backhoe purchase has been in the works for years and candidates for the new village position already interviewed.

“Regardless of what happens with COVID-19, that doesn’t change administration’s concerns in regards to the fact that we have an understaffed public works department,” said Robinson.

Blanchette asked if the backhoe can wait a year.

Staff said they are putting off expensive projects like resurfacing Main Street, Torgerson added staff are constantly reviewing all projects that involve spending.

Ultimately, Blanchette asked for a resolution and MacLean moved that the backhoe purchase be deferred to the next fiscal year and the motion was passed unanimously. Council didn’t deal with Craig’s recommendation to not hire a new employee.

Mutual aid
Council authorized the mayor and CAO to enter a mutual aid agreement with the Thompson Nicola Regional District regarding sharing qualified operators of water and sewer.

5-year financial plan
Council gave third reading to their five-year financial plan which passed unanimously.

Public Art Selection Committee
Blanchette wanted to make sure that the new Public Art Selection Committee didn’t think their word was final, so she added more verbage to make it clear that if council doesn’t like the art, it wouldn’t be selected.

She added the line: “The committee will provide feedback and recommendations to the council of Valemount with the understanding that council may alter recommendations.”

Torgerson pointed out that council has final say anyways, because the committee is only making a recommendation.

“Everybody knows we may change the recommendation and it’s not anything to do with the committee members. Nothing personal,” said Blanchette.

MacLean said the belaboured wording could discourage potential committee members from joining.

“I wonder if anybody would want to be on such a committee if we [council] are going to make the final choice,” said MacLean. “Yep, we’ve got a committee here, but we’re going to make the final decision. Should we trust the people we select for this committee?”

Torgerson said councillors are always responsible for voting their conscience.

“As long as you aren’t breaking legal requirements of the community charter, you vote the way you want,” he said.

Torgerson called the question twice because of technical difficulties and both times MacLean voted in favour of the amendment and it was approved.

“Thank you, that was good discussion,” said Torgerson.

Community Garden
The Robson Valley Community Services is hoping to revive the community garden near the Valemount Secondary School. Council agreed to allow the organization to begin using the space and cleaning it up, while staff prepare a lease.

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