By Andrea Arnold
Mayor Owen Torgerson called the Valemount Council meeting to order on March 28th and started the meeting by congratulating Michael Peters for 10 years of service at Valemount Community TV.
Tourism Valemount Update
Tourism Valemount Executive Director Marcie Down presented to council a summary of their activities of the past year and what they have planned for the coming year. The group’s vision statement says that Valemount and area will be a unique and sustainable tourism destination in the Canadian Rockies. Their mission statement explains that they hope to accomplish this through partnerships with many other groups locally and across the province. They want Valemount to become BC’s all-season trail destination and are working to improve local amenities, facilities and attractions. They are also increasing the contribution of the tourism sector to the local economy.
Nine Valemount residents serve the community through the organization on the Board of Directors or as staff. Currently they are working in partnership with four marketing co-operatives: Mountain Biking BC Ride North, North Thompson Valley, Let’s Ride BC and BC Ale Trail, to promote and market Valemount.
Down presented some of the highlights from the 2022 year and what the group has done and is planning to do in 2023. She also explained some of the statistics they have collected. The tmost commonly asked about activities, information requested, how long visitors stay, where they are from and the reason for the visit.
She also talked about the group’s social media campaign, hitting Instagram, and Facebook and tracking likes/follows/audience and impressions. She can use this information to target Tourism Valemount advertising on these platforms.
She ended her presentation by addressing the next two big events being held by Toursim Valemount:
April 24-28 Tourism Week. They will be hosting a meet and greet. Details to come.
April 22 Earth Day. CITO Cash in Trash Out 10:30-1:00 at Cranberry Marsh.
Kent Taylor, Community Liaison for Trans Mountain Expansion Project presented to council.
The overall project is nearly 80 per cent complete with 809 km of pipe in the ground and nearly 95 per cent of all facilities complete. Locally, Valemount to Avola, the project is also 80 per cent complete.
The current workforce is approximately 2000 workers between Valemount and Clearwater. 24 percent of these are locals, and eight per cent Indigenous. They are anticipating a month to month work force reduction. Through the project, 2.3 million dollars has been invested in upgrades to Valemount’s water, sewer and road updates, and one million has been used to support the hiring of registered nurses for the health centre.
TMX has been contacted by residents with concerns regarding local accommodations and services, and vehicle idling and are working to mitigate concerns. Individual landowners with concerns are directed to TMX Land Agents.
As work moves towards Blue River, local worker numbers will decrease. The planned closure of the Valemount Camp is scheduled for Q2 2023, subject to change, and mechanical completion is set for late 2023.
Taylor finished by asking Council if they had any questions. Councillor Pearson voiced his concern that camp is closing but that work will still be occurring. He said he would like to see camp stay open and workers moved into camp, freeing up local accommodation for local use.
Taylor responded that he heard the concern and that could be an option going forward.
Councillor Hollie Blanchette strongly agreed with Pearson. She said that if we can’t hire nurses and teachers and doctors because they don’t have a place to live, that doesn’t work for the community. Taylor said that he will take that back as a key message.
Mayor Torgerson said that he is pleased to see local hire numbers have increased since the last update. He then commented that Q2 is really long. 90 days long. He asked if the timeline is referring to the beginning? Or the middle? Taylor could not give a specific date but said that as soon as he knows something solid, he will get that information to Council as soon as possible.
Looking forward to the summer, Mayor Torgerson also asked what comments can be expected from tourists coming from Kamloops as the delays along that stretch of highway have been long, and how village staff can respond. He asked Taylor if this is expected to continue or change in the foreseeable future. Taylor said it will be better next year for sure. He said he would look into what can be expected for the summer. As crews start to pull access roads out, it is possible that traffic interruption will lessen.
Councillor Blanchette asked Taylor to pass on a reminder to pull construction signs. She said she has seen signs up but no workers present. When this happens repeatedly, people stop listening to signs creating a hazard for everyone. Taylor said he has experienced that first hand, and will bring it to the crew’s attention.
Farmers’ Market coupons
Councillor Blanchette made a motion to send a thank you letter to Minister of Health Adrien Dix regarding the BC Famer’s Market Nutrition Coupon program. In 2022 $16,407 in coupons were redeemed at the Valemount Farmers’ Market allowing over 50 lower-income residents to enjoy more fresh food items, and providing additional income for the providers.
Council approved “Valemount Council Strategic Priorities 2023-2027.” Council and staff had a planning meeting on Feb 1st and 2nd hosted by Doug Flemming, then had another session with CAO Eric Depenau to ratify the plan. There are four newly defined categories within the plan: Communication, Health & Safety, Fiscal Responsibility and Development & Diversification. The document will provide a way for staff to monitor progress toward outcomes and budget accordingly.
Council approved Village of Valemount staff to oversee the future operations of the Valemount Museum, subject to confirmation that current funding streams can be transferred from the Valemount Historic Society to the Village of Valemount.
Council approved the following recommendations from the committee regarding the Columbia Basin trust ReDi Grants Funding. Prior to the motion, Mayor Torgerson extended his thanks to all the applicants, and the adjudication committee.
Robson Valley Spay and Neuter Society will receive $4,000.00 for their project, Community Spay and Neuter Support Project.
Valemount Learning Society will receive $40,000.00 for their project, Green Energy for Village Greens – local leafy greens year-round. Mayor Torgerson recused himself prior to the vote as his wife is the applicant.
Valemount JCR Adult Committee Society will receive $4,945.00 for their project, Backcountry Equipment.
Valemount Entertainment Society will receive $40,354.00 for their project, Conversion of CHVC-TV Channel 32 to Digital, and the Purchase of an Emergency Alert Messaging System for VCTV.
Valemount Curling Club will receive $30,733.00 for their project, Valemount Curling Club Building Upgrades.
Valemount Secondary School Parent Advisory Council Society will receive $42,641.80 for their project, Valemount Youth Mountain Bike Club.
Valemount Community Sports Day Association will receive $10,702.80 for their project, Valemountain Days 2023.
Temporary Use Permits
Council gave initial approval to TUP 23-03 for 1170 Canoe View Place for a period of two years. The request is for one recreational vehicle to be used as a resident on the property.
Council gave initial approval to TUP 23-04 (a renewal of TUP 21-04) for 1133 14th Ave for a period of three years. Approval of this request would allow a recreational vehicle to continue being used on the property.
Council gave Five Year Financial Plan Bylaw No. 871, 2023 first and second reading.
Hwy 5/Karas Drive traffic concern
Councillor Pearson brought a concern to Council at the last regular meeting regarding Karas drive. Pearson read the statement saying that there are ongoing issues revolving around traffic patterns and parking difficulties along Karas Drive and the entire Hwy 5, Karas Drive, 5th Avenue intersection, as well as growing frustrations with members of the community. The statement also said that the Village is seeking ways to make access to the downtown safer for pedestrians and traffic and to enhance active transportation. Council voted in favour of having the Village of Valemount create a Select Committee of Council to explore possible solutions to the traffic and parking issues along the highway corridor. This group would include, but may not be limited to, such stakeholders as Village staff, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, local residents, retailers and industry.
There were no in-camera items on the agenda, so the meeting was adjourned.
Thank you to VCTV for providing recordings of Council meetings.