By Spencer Hall, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

Mayor Owen Torgerson called the December 2nd meeting to order at 7 p.m.

Simpcw Natural Resources Advisory Committee

Council reviewed a request from the Valemount Community Forest asking that Mayor Torgerson engage with Simpcw Resources. Torgerson explained the reasoning behind the consultation is to find common ground between the Valemount Community Forest’s four stewardship models and the requirements of the Province’s Heritage Conservation Act.

“So if it does, for example, follow the Simpcw’s six values of water, air, medicine, archeological, and cultural values, and we can identify those within our four stewardship models and find those synergies, maybe we can come up with a plan on moving forward on block referrals. Right now we have two blocks that are approved out of 80. So we’re hoping to find those synergies and build capacity at both levels,” Torgerson said.

The request was moved by Councillor Pete Pearson, seconded by Councillor Hugo Mulyk and carried by council.

Bylaw Enforcement Report

A bylaw report from Valemount Bylaw Officer, Clayton Gee was received by Council for information. In his report, Gee said community engagement remained the most successful method of handling most bylaw-related interactions. 

Gee said there were eight complaints received in November that resulted in a case file being opened. These complaints included a dog at large complaint, four good neighbor infractions, one wood burning appliance contravention, one open air burning violation, one solid waste collection infraction, two traffic regulation violations and a zoning contravention. 

Gee also stated the Village’s building inspector issued a Notice of Bylaw Violation after a resident started work without a valid building permit.

CAO and CO Appointment

Council officially appointed Anne Yanciw as the Village’s Chief Administrative Officer and Corporate Officer.

While Yanciw was hired as CAO and CO in November, both B.C.’s Community Charter and the Village’s Officer Designation and Delegation of Authority Bylaw require these appointments be made through a formal Council resolution.

The appointment was moved by Councillor Mulyk, seconded by Councillor Hollie Blanchette, and carried by Council.

NDIT 2024 Intern

With applications opening up for the 2024 NDIT Local Government and Indigenous Government Internship program, Council approved that Village staff apply to the program. The program aims to give recent post-secondary graduates hands-on training to prepare for a career in local and indigenous government, while also supporting capacity building in northern B.C. municipalities.

In her report to Council, Yanciw said the Village said it previously benefited from the program, but hasn’t had an intern since 2015.

“With a pending capacity reduction in the Economic Development department in 2024, as well as foundational work required for records management, the Village is again requesting Council support for an application to the program,” Yanciw’s report reads.

Torgerson said the Village has applied to the program in recent years but were turned down based on a lack of available housing.

“The markets are improving or availability is at least,” Torgerson said.

The request was moved by Councillor Pearson, seconded by Blanchette and carried by Council.

Deputy Mayor Schedule

Council then reviewed and approved the Deputy Mayor schedule for 2024.

The Deputy Mayor serves as acting Mayor when the Mayor is either absent, otherwise unable to fulfill their duties, or if the office of Mayor is vacant.

The 2024 schedule will see Councillor Mulyk be appointed Deputy Mayor for January, May and September. Councillor Pearson will step into the role in February, June, and October.

Councillor Blanchette will serve as Deputy Mayor in March, July, and November, and Councillor Donnie MacLean will be appointed Deputy Mayor for April, August, and December.

Clean Air Task Force 

A pair of recommendations from the Village’s Clean Air Task Force were then reviewed by Council.

The first recommendation was that the task force contact BC Hydro to ask the company to present information on the company’s Kinbasket Reservoir Revegetation program to council at a future meeting.

The second was that Village staff continue researching air sensors, with the cost potentially offset by funding from the BC Lung Association.

Council carried both recommendations.

Read more about the Clean Air Task Force recommendations in this issue.

Electric Vehicle Charging Station

In her report , Valemount Director of Finance, Lori McNee told Council the Village’s recently purchased Ford F-150 Lightning requires a charging station and can’t be charged from a regular electric socket, unlike other EV or Hybrid vehicles.

McNee said a charging station will need to be installed in the Village’s Public Works yard. She said the cost to install the charging station is about $12,391.77 plus tax.

“Unfortunately, the quote received was higher than anticipated and staff is requesting Council approve this cost as part of the 2024 budget,” McNee said, adding that the cost of the install will be covered by the Local Government Climate Action Program.

The request was moved by Councillor Pearson, seconded by Councillor Mulyk and carried by Council.

Five-Year Financial Plan 

After giving the public the opportunity to review amendments to the Village’s five-year financial plan, Council adopted the amended bylaw.

Village staff provided Council with the amended plan at a previous meeting in November.  In the report, specific line item amendments were noted with explanations of how they were being funded within the current budget. Amendments included $107,338 in school and policing costs recovered by property taxation — which according to McNee was offset by amounts the Village paid to school and policing agencies,  $185,000 in additional costs from the Village’s staff housing project — which the Village says is offset by a Northern Capital Planning Grant and rental income — and $20,000 for lift station upgrades. McNee says the cost of the upgrades are offset by revenue from increased sewer sales resulting from the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project.

Residents had from November 17th to December 4th to provide their comments on the amendments.

Council Remuneration 

Council then adopted the Village’s updated Council Remuneration Bylaw. Last month, Council moved to rescind its previous resolution to adopt Council Remuneration Bylaw No.284, 2023 because after Village staff reviewed the resolution, it was noted incorrect documents were uploaded, which caused raises for mayor and council to be listed as higher than the three per cent listed in the Village’s asset management plan.

“Therefore,  council’s  resolution  to adopt Bylaw No. 884 is being  rescinded and, for administrative clarity, a new bylaw is being brought forward,” McNee said in her report.

Under the new bylaw, the mayor would receive a $654.95 raise in 2024 — instead of the $1,419.07 listed in the previous bylaw — bringing his annual salary to $22,486.83. This breaks down to a daily increase of $1.79.

Councillors will each receive an annual pay increase of $336.47, bringing their annual pay to $11,552.27 compared to the $729.02 in the previous bylaw. The amended amount results in a daily increase of $0.92.

Freedom of the Municipality Policy No. 94, 2023

A new policy regarding a Freedom of the Municipality award was then reviewed and adopted by Council.

In an October council meeting, staff were instructed to draft a bylaw for a Freedom of the Municipality Award, which is the highest award a municipality can give. It’s typically awarded to individuals or groups to recognize their contributions or achievements.

No public comments were received. Council then moved to an in-camera meeting at 7:14 p.m.