By Spencer Hall, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

Mayor Owen Torgerson called the council meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Councillor Hollie Blanchette was not in attendance.

Torgerson began by welcoming new Valemount CAO Anne Yanciw to the Village’s administrative team.

“We are so looking forward to your advisory role here in the chambers and of course leading the team,” he said.

As there were no delegations, unfinished business, or letters, council began discussing items in its reading file.

BC Yukon Command Royal Canadian Legion

In a written request, president of the BC Yukon Command, Craig Thomson asked if Valemount council would support the Legion’s 18th annual Military Service Recognition Book by sponsoring advertising space in the publication, scheduled for release on November 11th, 2024.

Thomson said the book helps identify and recognize those from B.C. and the Yukon who served their country during times of conflict.

“This annual publication goes a long way to help the Legion in our job as the “Keepers of Remembrance,” so that none of us forget the selfless contributions made by our Veterans,” Thomson said.

Funds raised from advertising sponsorship will go towards the book’s printing and help the Command improve the services it provides to veterans.

Torgerson proposed the Village spend $330 for a business card sized advertisement in the book.

“I think it’s worthwhile that our name is out there in 5000 copies of the British Columbia Yukon Command, Royal Canadian Legion military service recognition book and while we fly the flags, we have banners. I think it’s a worthy investment on our part,” Torgerson said.

The motion was moved by Councillor Pete Pearson, seconded by Mulyk, then passed by council.

2023 Council Appointments

Council then approved a series of one-year term appointments to various boards and committees.

Mayor Torgerson was appointed to the Prince George Treaty Advisory Committee for a one-year term. The committee is composed of local government officials in the central interior of B.C. and represents the interests of communities and local governments in the region, taking part in ongoing treaty negotiations between local First Nations, the Province, and the federal government.

Councillor Pearson was appointed to the Trans-Canada Yellowhead Highway Association ” a nonprofit made up of municipalities, businesses, organizations and residents in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba with the aim of advocating for the maintenance and enhancement of the highway.

Councillor Donnie MacLean joined the Columbia River Treaty Local Governments Committee ” a group of local government officials in the Columbia Basin working to modernize the Columbia River Treaty after it was ratified in Canada and the U.S. in 1964. MacLean was also appointed to the Columbia Basin Regional Advisory Committee, a committee that was created in 2014 by the Columbia River Treaty Local Governments Committee, along with the Province and BC Hydro, during the Columbia Treaty Review process.

Councillor Hugo Mulyk was appointed to the Valemount Entertainment Society and the Tourism Valemount Destination Management Association ” an independent nonprofit society that guides efforts to improve tourism in the Village.

2024 Council Meeting Schedule

Council approved Village staff’s proposed council meeting schedule for 2024. Per the Village’s Council Procedure Bylaw, meetings for the upcoming year have been scheduled on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, with the exception of Christmas break, the week after the Union of BC Municipalities Conference ” set to be held from September 16th to the 20th. There will be one scheduled meeting during July and August.

New Stop Signs

The Village’s Traffic Committee requested council provide Transport Canada a letter in support of the committee’s proposal to remove yield signs on 5th Avenue and Dogwood Street at the Main Street railway crossings, replacing them with stop signs on Main Street on the north and south sides of the Dogwood and 5th Avenue intersections.

According to a Village report, the committee is concerned that larger vehicles coming to a complete stop in order to yield to oncoming traffic on Main Street will get held up on the railway tracks.

Councillor Pearson, who is a member of the Traffic Committee, said he raised this issue earlier on in the committee’s first term, but the change didn’t have the support of Transport Canada at the time.

“It’s always been a concern of mine, with a railroad background, that any longer vehicles stopped at that yield sign for traffic is foul of the track. So two things. It’s a safety risk. And basically if you’re parking at a crossing, you’re trespassing,” Pearson said.

He said RCMP are “highly in favour” of the initiative because it will slow traffic on Whiskey Fill Road and Main Street.

Council approved the committee’s request and moved to send a letter of support to Transport Canada.

Train Whistle Cessation Assessment

In her report to council, Valemount Director of Finance, Lori McNee requested council approve staff to enter into an agreement with McElhanney to complete a train whistle cessation agreement for the Village of Valemount.

McNee said the Village is currently at Stage two in the eight-stage process and is consulting with CN to see if whistle cessation is possible at the Dogwood Street and 5th Avenue rail crossings.

Council approved McNee’s request, allowing staff to move forward with the assessment and approved a budget of $30,600 for the assessment, which will be included in the Village’s 2024 budget.

Pearson noted the cost for the assessment may be lower if McElhanney doesn’t have to do a physical survey of the crossings.

Read more about train whistle cessation in Valemount in this week’s issue.

Accessibility Advisory Committee

Council established a municipal accessibility advisory committee to comply with the provincial Accessible British Columbia Act, passed in 2022.

The legislation requires organizations, including local governments, to create an accessibility committee, aimed at advising council on the creation of an accessibility plan.

According to the Village’s terms of reference document provided to council, the plan must identify, remove, and prevent accessibility barriers to those residing in or interacting with the Village, while considering several principles, such as inclusion, adaptability, diversity, and collaboration.

The plan also needs to provide a way for members of the public to submit comments on accessibility issues faced by residents and others interacting with the Village.

Voting members of the newly established committee will include the mayor, a member of council, the CAO, and up to four members of the public ” two of whom must either be people with disabilities or someone who supports people with disabilities. There also needs to be one member to represent seniors and another representing the Indigenous community. The committee will meet quarterly, starting in January 2024.

Valemount Council Remuneration Bylaw No. 888, 2023

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.

Council gave the new bylaw its first, second, and third readings.

Permissive Tax Exemption Policy No. 58

Council approved amendments to the Village’s Permissive Tax Exemption Policy No. 58, which grants tax exemptions to nonprofit organizations.

The amendments include adding Facebook as a way of advertising the opportunity to apply for the exemption, removing the section requiring Village staff to send applications to organizations who received exemptions during the previous tax year, as staff may not have current emails of board members. The third and final amendment makes it so members of the organization applying for the amendment don’t have to attend the council meeting where their tax exemption application is being considered.

“All information required for Council to make a decision is within the application.  If further clarification is required, staff have time to contact the organization and bring [the information] back to council prior to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd reading of the Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw,” the Village report said.

There was no new business, public comments, or in-camera business. The meeting was adjourned at 7:15 p.m.