By Spencer Hall. Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

Councillor Blanchette chaired the November 14th public hearing and council meeting, with Mayor Torgerson joining via Zoom. She began by calling the public hearing to order.

Public Hearing
The Village held the public hearing to allow residents to comment on temporary use permit 2306, which would allow an RV to remain parked and used as a residence at 1280 Juniper Street for another two years.
The new permit is a renewal of temporary use permit 2107, approved by council in December 2021. Valemount Land Planner Krista Etty told council the first permit allowed an RV to be used as a residence for two years, adding the Village didn’t receive any complaints or concerns from neighboring properties at the time of application or during the two years the RV has been in place, though it did receive one written submission following the permit’s initial approval in October. Nearby property owner Rhondi Hurlbut thanked the Village for the opportunity to have her thoughts considered
“I realize why the temporary use permit was in place when there was absolutely no available housing, but the reduction in population has opened some sales and rentals now and I would not like to see RVs as a permanent housing option, especially when some very hardworking people have accomplished supplying our neighborhood with some very well-designed beautiful housing options,” Hurlbut wrote.
No other feedback was provided by the public, the applicant or from members of council.
The hearing was adjourned and the regular council meeting commenced at 7:05 p.m.

Image Signs & Lighting
The meeting kicked off with a presentation to council from Carson Jordan with Image Signs & Lighting — the company that could design the Village’s new entry sign.
Jordan told council he reviewed previous meetings and wanted to get feedback and clarify design concerns.
A large concern for council is traffic sightlines of the Highway 16 and 5th Avenue intersection, and a single post archway design previously provided to council would likely mitigate sightline concerns. Jordan agreed.
Read more in this week’s issue on P8.

Invasive Mussels
Council discussed a letter from the Okanagan Basin Water Board requesting the Village’s support in calling on senior governments to take immediate action to prevent or minimize impacts from invasive mussels spreading into B.C.
The board said that in September, the State of Idaho announced invasive quagga mussels were found in Snake River, which feeds into the Columbia River. The discovery was made in Twin Falls, located about 17 hours from Valemount and 11 hours from the B.C. border.
“If senior governments fail to act, local governments and First Nations in B.C. will bear the brunt of managing and paying for the costs of invasive mussel mitigation,” the board said in its letter.
According to the board, the mollusks could cost the Province about $129 million each year from infrastructure, maintenance of boats and marinas, lost profits and provincial revenue, losses in residential property value and property taxes.
“These costs do not include the devastating effects on fish – especially Pacific salmon, and aquatic ecosystems in general. Invasive mussels can create toxic algae blooms, litter beaches with razor-sharp shells, clog water intakes and boat motors, and corrode concrete and metal in the water,” the board’s letter reads.
Actions the province should take, according to the board, include a temporary prohibition of out of province watercraft entering B.C. until the level of infestation in the Columbia Basin can be determined and introducing legislation that would require watercraft users to drain their boats of standing water before transporting them on public roads.
Pearson said it’s only a matter of time before the mussels find their way into Robson Valley waterways and moved that council send a letter of support of the Okanagan Basin Water Board. The motion was seconded by MacLean and carried by council.

Accounts Payable
Council then reviewed a quarterly accounts payable report from Village Director of Finance Lori McNee. In her report, McNee said all expenses, totalling just over $3.6 million from July to September 2023 remain within the Village budget. Council voted to receive the report for information.

Building Inspection Report
According to Village building inspector Dean Schneider, the Village issued two building permits and collected $290 in September 2023. The permits were for alterations or repairs to a residential accessory building and an institutional building with an estimated construction value of $17,000.
Schneider says in October 2023, the Village issued one building permit for an addition to a single family dwelling, which had an estimated $10,000 in construction value.
Council received the report for information.

October Bylaw Enforcement
Valemount Bylaw Enforcement Officer Clayton Gee told council in his report that in October 2023 community engagement remained the most successful way of handling most bylaw interactions.
Gee said three complaints were received resulting in files being opened in October. These complaints included one open air burning violation, one dangerous dog attack resulting in injury and one complaint of a dog at large.
The bylaw enforcement officer said he worked with the BCSPCA and RCMP during the investigation into the dog attack.
“[The investigation] resulted in a Notice of Bylaw Violation being issued with terms for keeping a dangerous dog within the Village. The file is being monitored for compliance,” Gee said in his report.
Gee said that in October, bylaw received multiple calls from the public about bears in the area, resulting in Conservation Officers attending several times, including two full weekends, to monitor bear activity and take action if necessary.
Compliance on several files was achieved, resulting in the closure of four files. 22 files remained open at the end of October and were carried over into November.
Seven properties are being monitored for hazard mitigation caused by tall grass and weeds and unsightliness under the Good Neighbor Bylaw. Five parking infractions await action by violation recipients.
Council received the report for information.

Temporary Use Permit 2306
After the public hearing, Council approved Temporary Use Permit 2306 allowing an RV to remain parked at 1280 Juniper Street and used as a residence for another two years.
Pearson said while he doesn’t completely disagree with comments made by Rhondi Hurlbut, the temporary use permits are still a value to the community.
“This process also allows people building new homes to live in an RV while they’re building,” Pearson said.
Torgerson pointed out after the renewed two-year permit expires in December 2025, the applicant can’t reapply as it is a temporary permit.

Third Quarterly 2023 Budget Report
Council then received the third quarterly budget report for this year, which states all revenues and expenses are within the Village budget.
The Village budgeted for a grand total of $20,751,790 in revenue for the third quarter, but fell nearly three million dollars short of that at $17,798,639. This appears to mainly be due to the Village not receiving $1,673,094 worth of grants it previously budgeted for. The Goat reached out to the Village for clarification but didn’t receive a response by publication time.
However, of the $20,751,789 budgeted for expenses, the Village has only spent $15,193,890, with just over $5.5 million left over.

Asset Retirement Obligations Policy No. 93, 2023
After review, council approved Asset Retirement Obligations Policy No 93, which will change the way the Village accounts for the retirement of long-term tangible assets. It will require the Village to account for and report on its asset retirement obligations. The aim of the policy is to allow those who work with financial reports to recognize information about municipal assets and what needs to be done in order to retire them.

Village of Valemount Five-Year Financial Plan
Council then gave first, second, and third readings to the Village’s Five‐Year Financial Plan Bylaw No. 871, 2023, amendment Bylaw No. 887, 2023.
In her report to council, McNee said amendments to the 2023 five-year financial plan needed to be made because of increases and decreases in Village expenses and revenues.
Significant changes listed in McNee’s report included a $540,000 increase in sewer sales and a $350,000 increase in water sales, both of which will go to the Village’s reserves. The additional sales relate to Trans Mountain pipeline expansion activity in the area.
Torgerson stated his appreciation for McNee and her ability to offset Village expenses with grants and financial reserves.

No public comments were received and there was no in camera business, so the meeting was adjourned at 7:31 p.m.