By Michael Piasetzki
The Valemount Council meeting occurred on Sept. 28, 2021. Mayor Owen Torgeson called the meeting to order.
The meeting began with a delegation from the Valemount Community Forest (VCF). Ray Mikolash, wildfire officer and director of the community forest along with Gordon Carson, local retired businessman, logger and saw mill operator and vice-president of the community forest spoke to Council.
Mikolash and Carson expressed their concerns about the proposed rules contained in Policy 81, which spells out how directors of Village-owned companies are appointed, how many councillors sit on the board, and conflict of interest rules that discourage directors from also working for the company. Mikolash explained that in 2018 the Village of Valemount divided the community forest into two limited companies. The company was divided mainly for tax purposes. Carson then explained there is now a conflict in the articles between the two companies. As a result, if Policy 81 was to be adopted the board of directors would be in contravention of the VIP articles and the company could not legally function. (Editor’s Note: A report to amend the articles was on the agenda, but had not yet come up in the meeting).
Mikolash and Carson requested that Council defer the adoption of Policy 81 and set up a meeting between Council and the community forest board to bring those articles into agreement and further discuss Council’s role on the board and conflict of guidelines in the policy. The guidelines of Policy 81 includes a minimum of two elected councillors from the village of Valemount, one (non-voting) staff member of the Village of Valemount and the remaining directors consisting of community members with business, financial and appropriate skill sets identified by the company and the Village of Valemount.
Mikolash pointed out that it would be very difficult to recruit volunteer board members with skills and knowledge and not have some perceived conflict of interests if Policy 81 was adopted. Carson said at the proposed meeting, VCF and Council could discuss the perceived conflict of interest and to how it applies to the VCF and the VIP.
Councillor Blanchette asked if Mikolash and Carson had a time frame in mind for their request. Carson answered he didn’t know how long it would take but it would take place after the joint meeting. Mikolash pointed out that the board only meets once a month.
Accounts payable report
Council approved the accounts payable report.
Building inspection report
Council approved the Bylaw Enforcement Summary Report.
Supply and install of municipal diesel and generator
Staff issued an RFQ for the supply and install of a Municipal Office Diesel Power Generator. ICI Electrical Engineering Ltd. assisted staff in the schematics and was estimated to cost approximately $100,000. Two bids were received, both over $400,000.
Councilor Pearson expressed surprise at the 400 per cent difference in cost. Mayor Torgerson agreed and said there is a chance council could look at other sources than diesel. He suggested solar energy is quite low at the present time and battery capacity is improving.
Canadian National Crossing arms
Council approved the recommendation to apply to the Canadian Transportation Agency to lower the the Village’s proportion of the cost of installing rail crossing arms at the two village crossings from 25 per cent to 12.5 per cent of the total cost. Mayor Torgerson stressed the recommendation does not guarantee whistle cessation.
Valemount Housing Committee Guests and Delegations
Council considered a recommendation that the Valemount Housing Committee be allowed to invite a Regional District Fraser-Fort George representative and Myles Bruns, Regional Manager, Economic Development Branch MFLNRO, to the next housing committee meeting of October 14, 2021. Councilor Blanchette requested an amendment that council also authorize the housing committee to invite anyone they wish without having to go to council every time. Council approved the amended motion.
Development permit for brewery
Council gave initial approval for a Development Permit 21-03 and Development Variance Permit 21-02, at 1160 5th Avenue.
Three Ranges Brewing Company is requesting a Development Permit to construct a 20’ x 27’ addition to the rear of the existing building. The building is to accommodate the required upgraded electrical services for the installation of larger brewing equipment and to create additional production space. Councilor Pearson expressed concern over a drastic jump from 3 metres to .75 metres in an alleyway. However, he agreed as public works has said it could clear snow through the alleyway.
Temporary use permit at 1945 Cranberry Place
Council approved the request for a Temporary Use Permit for one motorhome to be used as a residence at 1945 Cranberry Place for a period of 1 year. The lot is located in the R1 zone.
Councilor Pearson asked the planner if there are photos of the certification label of the temporary structure. The planner said she asked for photos which are on file and have been sent to the building inspector. She said that applies to all requests of the council.
Temporary use permit on 1133 14th Avenue
Council approved the applicant requesting a Temporary Use Permit to permit 1 bumper pull RV to be used as a residence at 1133 14th Avenue for a period of 1 year. The lot is located in the R2 zone. Mayor Torgerson noted the certification sticker is not included in the application package but has been reviewed by the building inspector.
Temporary use permit on 1070 14th avenue
Council approved a Temporary Use Permit to permit 1 bumper pull RV to be used as a residence at 1070 14th Avenue for a period of 1 year. The lot is located in the R2 zone.
Valemount Industrial Park articles
Councillor MacLean recused herself and left the room, stating her spouse was on the board. A staff report said a discrepancy exists between the composition of the Valemount Industrial Park (VIP) and Valemount Community Forest board of directors (BoD). Since the inception of the VIP, the board of directors for both companies have included the same people. Staff recommended that Section 14.1 of the Valemount Industrial Park Articles of Incorporation be amended to be in line with the Valemount Community Forest. Councilor Blanchette moved to table the motion so that Council could have a conversation with the Community Forest. She said it’s a partnership and that has to be honoured by sitting down in a timely manner to deal with these issues together. It was decided the meeting would be held before the next Valemount Council meeting in October. The motion was tabled.
Amendment of Policy 81 re: board appointments to village-owned companies.
The recommendation was Policy 81 be approved as presented. Councilor Blanchette asked to table the issue for further discussion as well. The issue was tabled.
Amendment of policy 83 – Temporary Residential Structures
Council approved the amended policy. Council approved the amended policy that permits residents in the RR1, R1, and R2 zones to apply for a Temporary Use Permit to allow RVs to be used as short term residences. The policy was amended to give more clear direction around setbacks as well as parking and sightlines when an RV is placed in the front yard. Councilor Pearson wanted confirmation this would be a property line measurement rather than Village easement. Mayor Torgerson answered it was.
Amendment of Village of Valemount Bylaw No. 849, 2021
A recommendation was made to approve the bylaw that called for fines of $500 for unpermitted uses/developments, as well as failure to comply with all other zoning requirements. The fine proposed for obstructing a bylaw official is $300. The amendment was carried.
Village of Valemount Permissive Tax exemption
A recommendation was made for council to approve 1st 2nd and 3rd reading of the Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw No 851, 2021.The bylaw was amended to include approval of a 25% tax exemption for all applicants for the 2022 tax year. For a list of organizations, see the Village’s ad Page 6.
Freedom of the city
Mayor Torgerson brought forward an item for the village staff to research on whether Freedom of the City—an ancient honour granted to martial organisations, allowing them the privilege to march into the city “with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed”—is a Proclamation defined by Village policy or “an entirely ceremonial honour, bestowed upon a unit with historic ties to the area, as a token of appreciation for their long and dedicated service.” The motion was carried for staff to research the matter.
Each councillor and Mayor Torgerson presented his or her verbal report. All reports were received.
Regarding the cost of the Village’s diesel back-up system, Rashmi Narayan briefly said it might be advisable for the village to look at the new Columbia Basin Trust climate resilience grant that allows for alternate sources of energy.
Eugene Jamin said more people are needed at the table as far as the housing committee is concerned. All levels of government need to be consulted and will mean a better outcome in the end. He also said the Valemount Community Forest needed people with real experience.