By Laura Keil, Publisher/Editor

Valemount Council made some bold decisions at their last meeting, and I for one would like to offer some praise.

The first is allowing RVs and portable dwellings (think tiny homes) as homes on Village lots (lots with an existing home or one under construction) through temporary use permits.

A temporary use permit (TUP) means neighbours can now have their say and it brings a measure of control to the process. It also avoids the unpleasant task of evicting people already set up.

The pipeline has put insane pressure on Valemount’s already tight rental market, and less-than-awesome living conditions at the pipeline camp mean a lot of workers are pumped to leave. But with every campground and rental home filled, workers have turned to buying RVs and parking on private properties.

This is not a bad thing, per se, but if it has an impact on neighbours, it’s important they can have their say in a TUP public hearing. It could also impact village services.

The Village has put a time limit of 4 years on each temporary dwelling, which means the dissipation of pipeline workers will likely occur in conjunction with the end of the temporary use permit.

Many will sneer at the $650 application fee as a cash grab, but it will likely barely cover the staff time to process the temporary use permit. And while some may say these additional dwellings should have to pay utility fees, the reality is these dwellings are not so different from laneway homes which will soon be legal in many zones, thanks to the Village’s new zoning bylaw, which has now passed 3rd reading.

The second bold move is Council approving the rainbow crosswalk. Just five years ago, the mayor (formerly a councillor) and Councillor Blanchette voted against a rainbow crosswalk proposal. It’s nice to see them have a change of heart and for staff to accurately report the costs involved.

It’s unfortunate that the two women from the LGBTQ+ community who pitched the first crosswalk in 2016 felt they needed to stay silent this time around so they didn’t jinx the process. This time, two male allies led the charge together with one very courageous and well-spoken student from the LGBTQ+ community at Valemount Secondary.

This is a win for council, a win for the community, and a glowing example of what allies can do.

Still, the fact that members of the LGBTQ+ community felt they needed to stay silent during the process (and even after the crosswalk was approved) raises some questions.

If you are an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, and you care about people who happen to be gay, transgender, and queer, just know your work isn’t over.