By Andru McCracken

Valemount council held their regularly scheduled meeting on January 12, 2021 by Zoom, because of public health restrictions on the number of people that can gather. Councillors Donnie MacLean and Sheri Gee were not present.

The meeting began with a presentation by Shona Thorne and Krysten Dubuc of Community Futures Fraser Fort George and a survey of small businesses in the region. While some businesses are flourishing, many are floundering.

According to the interim results of the survey, many businesses found they experienced barriers asking for help, that information was overwhelming and fragmented, that mental health – already an issue – was impacting business decisions.

“This is an amazing program,” said Mayor Owen Torgerson.

Healthy Liaisons
Councillors Hollie Blanchette and Councillor Pearson were appointed as liaisons to the Northern Health Authority.

Council received the Building Inspector’s Report.

Property Numbers from A to Z
Council received a Property Numbering Initiative report from Staff. Pearson said he didn’t anticipate that an informal post-council discussion on house numbering would result in the comprehensive report that was brought to them last week.

Blanchette said the initiative is critical.

“It’s for everybody’s safety, I think it’s a very valuable program,” said Blanchette.

The report has found that there are houses and buildings without an address numbering. These are required to allow emergency services to ascertain the civic address of the property.

The report states that while there is a general theme to the numbering, there is no comprehensive strategy, and there are some anomalies in how buildings are numbered.

Visitor services grant
Council directed staff to apply for a Destination BC grant to provide Visitor Services in the amount of $12,500.

According to the staff report, the grant makes the operation of the Valemount Information Centre ‘more economically viable and offsets the costs of staffing.’

Safe restart
Council accepted a report from staff on a grant it received called the COVID 19 Safe Restart Grant. The grant was worth $501,000 in September 2020 and was used to offset revenue shortfalls and related expenses.

Smoky skies
Council received a report on the 2021 Wood Stove Exchange Program. The program will continue and there are rebates ranging from a few hundred dollars to about $2500 depending on what type of wood stove is being exchanged, and what type of alternative heating unit is being installed.
Pearson had some concerns.

“I see a couple items in there that I would find would be very hard to manage or police. One item would be, for anybody that has a wood heater would have to not use it if the venting index indicated we had poor air quality,” he said.

He wondered whether people would check the venting index and who would police the policy.

“That one seems like a tough sell and in general, I appreciate the direction this is going, but the fact that we live in a forest driven community, there might be some pushback.”

Torgerson said he appreciated Pearson’s thoughts.

The plan, man
Council received a report on the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw update project.

Blanchette said she liked the mobility plan and also the inclusion of ‘mortgage helpers’ in the update.

Development Procedures
Council gave third reading to a bylaw amending the Village of Valemount development procedures.

The changes include how and when public hearings are advertised and who is notified and how.

Council then went in camera to consider matters related to the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality.