Valemount Council: Flag protocol, Kamloops letter, reservoir levels

Valemount Council had a brief meeting last Tuesday to discuss the Village’s flag-raising protocol, a letter from Kamloops City Council, and rising Kinbasket reservoir levels.

Mayor Owen Torgerson called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

Council adopted the evening’s agenda, then approved minutes for their May 28th regular meeting and May 14th special meeting.

Flag Protocol

Historically, Valemount has not had a policy dictating how flags on Village property should be displayed. Staff proposed a flag protocol policy to ensure that flags flown on different Village properties are displayed consistently and appropriately.

The policy has guidelines for when flags should be flown at half-mast, such as when a former Prime Minister passes away. In the original version of the policy reviewed by Council, the section on half-masting flags stipulated that when multiple flags are flown together – for example, when the B.C. flag, Village flag, and Canadian flag are flown in a group – all must be flown at half-mast when the half-mast policy is in effect.

Torgerson and CAO Anne Yanciw said some flagpoles in the Village make it difficult to fly flags at half-mast. In an email to The Goat, Yanciw said some flagpoles, such as the ones flying the B.C. and Valemount flags outside the Village office, use a hinge mechanism which makes it difficult to lower flags.

“To change the flag, the operator must remove several bolts and lower the entire flagpole,” she wrote. “To half mast those would mean lowering the whole pole, and then devising an improvised system of tying it off in the middle that might look careless rather than professional, and might not remain secure in the wind.”

During the Council meeting, Yanciw suggested striking the multiple flags requirement until the Village finds a way to easily put all of its flagpoles at half-mast – in the meantime, flags that cannot be lowered will be flown at full mast. The Village currently does not have plans to replace its hinged flagpoles with ones that are easier to put at half-mast, she told The Goat.

Councillor Donnie MacLean moved to adopt the policy, with the amendment that procedure 2(e) – the multiple flags requirement – be removed. Councillor Hollie Blanchette seconded MacLean’s motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

Kamloops Council Letter

The Village received a letter from Kamloops City Council requesting further communication to be directed to the city’s deputy mayor, rather than the sitting mayor. Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson has had multiple conflicts with Kamloops Council since his election in October 2022, including filing a defamation lawsuit against another councillor and suspending the city’s CAO, according to reporting from CBC.

In late May, the longstanding feud culminated in Council voting to create a deputy mayor position, occupied by a different councillor each month. The Deputy Mayor will be responsible for communicating on behalf of the city, rather than Hamer-Jackson.

In a letter dated May 29th, then-Deputy Mayor Kelly Hall informed municipalities throughout B.C. of this development.

“Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson is no longer authorized to speak for the will of Kamloops City Council or the corporation of the City of Kamloops,” Hall wrote. “The appointed Deputy Mayor… will represent City Council and the organization at all events and for all matters locally, provincially, and federally.”

Torgerson said Valemount will follow Hall’s request to communicate with the Deputy Mayor.

Kinbasket Reservoir Levels

Torgerson remarked that water levels in the Kinbasket reservoir have been on the rise, according to the Columbia Reservoir System updates BC Hydro shares weekly. The Kinbasket rose by about 1.40 metres in the week leading up to the latest update, dated May 31st.

“I was down there today, and wow, what a difference a week makes,” he said.

Highway Association Meeting

Councillor Pete Pearson has been re-elected as president of the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway Association, an organization advocating for improved highway conditions throughout the Yellowhead Corridor at provincial and federal levels of government. The incoming board, elected at the association’s Annual General Meeting in May, has its next meeting in Edmonton on June 28th. Pearson asked for Council to approve covering his travel costs to attend in-person so he can accept an appreciation award from the Association for serving two terms as president.

Council unanimously approved a motion to pay for Pearson’s trip using the Village’s annual conference budget.

In-Camera

At 7:10 p.m., Torgerson adjourned the regular meeting to move to an in-camera session. The in-camera meeting was called to discuss items related to Section 90(1)(a) and (k) of the Community Charter:

(a) personal information about an identifiable individual who holds or is being considered for a position as an officer, employee or agent of the municipality or another position appointed by the municipality; and

(k) negotiations and related discussions respecting the proposed provision of a municipal service that are at their preliminary stages and that, in the view of the council, could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality if they were held in public.

Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat