Village Council voted to approve an arched entrance sign at their most recent meeting. The design is projected to cost a little over $229K, so the budget has been sent back to staff for review. / VILLAGE OF VALEMOUNT

By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Mayor Owen Torgerson called the meeting to order at 7:00. Council adopted the minutes of the February 13th meeting. 


Valemount resident Dennis Nordli was the only delegation. He told The Goat he was there to start a conversation about the Village’s fire evacuation procedures. 

Nordli, who is himself a senior citizen, said that he is concerned that senior citizens in Valemount are unaware of the resources available to them in case of a fire.

“We just need to have a little bit better communication from the Council to the town,” he said. “I’m not going to dwell on a big point, but this is what I would like from the Village: just a little bit more cooperation so that it’s a public awareness program.”

Multiple councillors, including Pete Pearson, Hollie Blanchette, and Hugo Mulyk, said they appreciated Nordli’s comments.

“I think one thing that Dennis brings to light is the fact that we could be missing people, single people and senior citizens living alone […] How do we pick up the pieces and account for those?” said Councillor Pete Pearson.

Councillor Hollie Blanchette said non-profits should take the opportunity to connect with senior citizens in Valemount and make sure they have someone they can contact in the event of an emergency. She thanked Nordli for his comments, as the Village has not had to manage an emergency in several years but needs to make sure it is prepared.

Torgerson said changes to the Village’s emergency plans are forthcoming, given the Emergency and Disaster Management Act introduced in November. Council will work with the Village’s emergency management planning committee to ensure the Village’s emergency plans comply with the new provincial regulations, he said.

Councillor Hugo Mulyk said that he thinks many residents share Nordli’s concerns. He said he has had similar discussions within some of the committees he sits on.

CAO Anne Yanciw said that the Voyent Alert! system which the Village uses to send alerts to residents does not require a cell phone, and works with landline phones. She added that there is an intention to push for more residents to subscribe to the system.

Read more about Nordli’s efforts to organize fire evacuation plans in this week’s issue.

After moving to receive Nordli’s comments, Council moved on to unfinished business.

Entrance Sign Proposals

Council entered a Committee of the Whole meeting at 7:09 to discuss replacing the village entrance sign.

The current entrance sign is rotting and has been in place for nearly 20 years, so Council is looking to replace it with a more durable sign.

Council reviewed four proposals from Image Sign, a company that specializes in the design and installation of signs and lighting. The costs of each design exceeded the $200,000 budget earmarked for the project, ranging from $224,554 to $235,885, not counting tax. 

Councillor Pete Pearson said that, previously, concerns had been noted about whether the archway designs would meet the minimum required height clearance.

Carson Jordon, a sales account representative at Image who video-called into the Council meeting, said that the measurements of the proposals aren’t set in stone. The next step after Council chooses a design would be to confirm the minimum clearance height and adjust the height of the archway if necessary, he said.

Blanchette asked if the design proposals incorporated the existing stone bases for the sign’s pillars. Jordon confirmed that the existing bases will be used regardless of the design.

Mulyk asked why part of the archway appeared to be cut off on design D, the fourth proposal. Jordon said that it was a design choice that would help with transportation and installation as it meant the arch could be constructed with three separate pieces.

Torgerson asked if councillors had a favourite design. Mulyk said he preferred design D because it had more room in the centre. Torgerson said that he also preferred design D, but liked the colour scheme of design A, especially its lighter wood colour. Pearson said he liked design D and would also prefer a lighter wood. Councillor Donnie Maclean said she preferred dark wood. Mulyk said that a lighter wood may look less dusty in the summer, as opposed to a dark wood on which sand would be easily visible. 

The Committee of the Whole decided to recommend design D. It also recommended the use of long board plank western cedar, the wood used in design A. Finally, the committee approved staff to work within the five-year financial plan and incorporate the additional cost of the chosen sign during the budget process. Jordon added that the cost may change slightly depending on whether engineers adjust the design.

Torgerson adjourned the Committee of the Whole and called the regular council meeting to order. Council moved to adopt the committee’s recommendation of design D with longboard plank western cedar.

Potential to Reverse Conflict of Interest

Previously, Torgerson has declared a conflict of interest and recused himself from discussions pertaining to VARDA as he has a seat on VARDA’s board. However, being a Council appointee to VARDA’s board, Torgerson may be exempt from typical conflict of interest requirements.

A legal opinion sought by the Village said that because of his status as a Council appointee, Torgerson may be considered exempt from having to declare a conflict of interest when the Council discusses matters pertaining to VARDA.

Councillor Pearson said that he has heard of another community including $5,000 in its annual budget to get legal opinions on potential conflicts of interest.

“It doesn’t happen often, but we all sit on a lot of boards and wear a lot of hats,” he said.

As the legal opinion on conflict of interest was only being presented for information, no motion was required.

Memorandum of Understanding

Since last May, Valemount, the District of Clearwater, the District of Barriere, and Simpcw First Nation have been developing a Regional Memorandum of Understanding. Each municipality has its own memorandum with Simpcw First Nation, but the memoranda share similar guidelines to establish ongoing collaborative relationships between municipalities and Simpcw.

Council moved to approve the Memorandum. Now that Valemount has signaled that it is ready to sign the Memorandum, the next step is to co-sign it in-person with Simpcw First Nation. Additionally, a ceremonial signing with dignitaries from throughout the province will be held in May.

“Exciting times, I’m looking forward to it,” said Torgerson. “It’s been a while since this has been raised initially, and we’re almost to that finish line.”

Read more about the Memorandum of Understanding in this week’s issue.

Dog Park

As Valemount lacks a dog park, residents have used the ball field at John Osadchuk Park as a temporary dog park in winter months while it was not being used for sports. Because dog owners did not properly clean up after their dogs, it became impossible to use the park for recreation, according to the staff report. 

As such, staff have explored creating a dog park on the undeveloped area of John Osadchuk Park. The Village staff asked Urban Systems, a consulting firm that builds infrastructure and communal spaces for municipalities, to draw up a preliminary design and cost estimate.

Urban Systems gave a cost estimate of over $375K, vastly exceeding the $50K budget set aside for the park. Due to the cost of development, staff recommended that the Village not move forward with the dog park, and Council agreed.

The proposed dog park design created by Urban Systems came in at $375,000 — nearly eight times the proposed $50,000 budget for the dog park./ URBAN SYSTEMS

“I don’t think we need to start out with something so grand,” said Blanchette. She suggested that the Village build a simple park with just fencing and a gate, then have dog owners fundraise for more amenities, if they’d like. She also said that Trans Mountain Pipeline has already donated fencing, and while she does not know how high-quality it is, it would be worth using for a few months before finding a more permanent solution.

Councillor Pearson agreed that the park Urban Systems designed is too expensive. However, he added, he thinks there should be separate sections for large and small dogs, to protect the smaller ones from harm. He also said the dog park should be built with a larger buffer between the park and the baseball field – the current buffer is only five meters.

Mulyk said that the Urban Systems concept was too overblown. He added that once a simple park is built, Village residents and staff can explore opportunities to fundraise for park improvements.

Council moved to not move forward with the development of a dog park at this time.

Pump Track

After meeting with the Pump It Up Committee – an ad hoc committee of VARDA which is seeking to build an all-wheels pump track in Valemount – Village staff identified a three-acre block of land in John Osadchuk Park that could be used for the pump track. Staff recommended that the proposed pump track location be sent back to staff for further analysis of the cost of having the pump track as a village asset.

Pearson said two constituents had told him that VARDA just borrowed money to buy another piece of property, and they were concerned that VARDA was asking for property from the Village on top of that. Other than those concerns, he supports the proposal, he said.

Torgerson said the pump track might not be supported in another location due to floodplains throughout the Village and other engineering concerns. He added that the location at John Osadchuk Park is central.

The second part of the request for decision asked that staff review the request for the Village to take on the pump track as an asset to assess budgetary implications. 

Pearson said he would prefer for the pump track to remain the property of VARDA, rather than becoming a Village asset. He said the expense for the Village to maintain a paved surface like a pump track would be incredible, however, Torgerson said he believes staff will predict a minimal cost of maintenance. Torgerson said perhaps grass will have to be mowed, and a substrate will have to be applied to the asphalt in ten or 15 years, but it would ultimately be a minimal cost, he said.

Blanchette and Mulyk said they would like staff to provide more information on insurance. Mulyk also said he has some experience in constructing pump tracks, and that they are designed to be as maintenance-friendly as possible. 

“It is actually quite minimal once everything’s done. It’s just they’re very expensive to build,” he said.

Torgerson added that the substrate will do well in Valemount: standing water poses the biggest threat to the substrate, he said, but Valemount’s sandy environment means that this is unlikely to be an issue.

The motion carried with all in favour, so the request that the pump track be made a Village asset will be sent back to staff to further examine the budgetary implications of doing so.

Public Comments

Sean Kelly, committee chair of Pump It Up, took the opportunity to comment on Council’s concerns about the pump track. He said he has seen pump tracks installed in 2017 that look brand-new. He is excited to provide more information to Council, he said, and looks forward to answering more questions as the development of a pump track gets under way.

Torgerson adjourned the meeting at 7:50. There was no in-camera session for this meeting.