Pierre Frigon is Tourism Valemount’s temporary manager while they seek a permanent manager. Lack of housing has hampered their efforts to recruit. /SUBMITTED

By Laura Keil

Pierre Frigon, who helped steer Tourism Jasper for several years, is now at the helm of Tourism Valemount. Working remotely from his home north of Edmonton, he’s been with the organization since April 15th, guiding the process of becoming a destination marketing organization.

Last year, Tourism Valemount separated from the Village and is now an independent non-profit, with a local board of directors. Frigon says a lot of his work has been the technical stuff like an audit of the website, their practices and references for the committees.

“(It’s) stuff that puts the organization on a good foundation going forward.”

He says once that stuff is complete, his job will be improving the perception of Tourism Valemount among local businesses and residents so they can share in the vision of Valemount as a destination for tourists.

He says he’ll also be creating an in-depth strategic marketing plan for this year and the next five years.  

“Where do we want to be? Where do we want to end?”

It’s a lot of advocacy, he says.

When asked about Tourism Jasper’s role in staff housing, he said they had no choice there but to tackle that issue, but the housing issue hasn’t come up at Tourism Valemount thus far except in terms of attracting a permanent manager.

“Jasper has had that issue since day one. In terms of attracting staff to work for Tourism Valemount, that’s been a bit of a stumbling block.”

He said when Parks Canada devolved power to the municipality, the newly formed Jasper Council said all new housing has to follow a cooperative perspective plan, which controls the price housing can be sold for, limiting how much it can go up year-to-year. 

“So no more free market. That was the best thing we ever did. Because now somebody who’s working not at a huge wage, but an average hospitality wage, could have a family and own a property. The only thing was, when they sold it, they had to sell it for what they paid plus whatever the index cost of living is 3% or 2% more per year.”

Frigon says they are hoping to have a new manager in place by the fall, but all depending on the person being able to find accommodations in town. For the meantime, he comes to Valemount for a few days each month.

“One thing I can say is, oh my gosh, Valemount is blessed with so much. So much.”