Mayor Owen Torgerson called the Valemount Council Meeting to order.
The meeting began with Councillor Pearson congratulating Jim Martin, chief administrative officer (CAO) with the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George (RDFFG), who will be retiring at the end of this year. According to the RDFFG, Martin has worked for the district since 1994, joining the then newly-formed Environmental Services Department and moved into the CAO role in 2007. Councillor Blanchette expressed her gratitude for Martin’s work, noting he has assisted the Village on numerous occasions.
“He's always at the end of that phone when you call and say help, so a huge thank you for everything he did,” Blanchette said.
After tabling a vote at its July 25th council meeting due to missing information, council reviewed a requisition limit increase report from RDFFG public safety operations manager, Melanie Perrin for the Fire Department Coordination Service.
According to Perrin, the current requisition limit for the service is $156,250 annually, which was set in 2021 and is not enough for the service to meet today’s service level objectives, let alone respond to future needs.
She said since the service began operations about 20 years ago, support required by the volunteer service has become more complex, with legislative changes, new training requirements, WorkBC recognizing volunteer firefighters as regional district employees, and more risk management responsibilities exhausting the service’s current resources.
“The funds needed to support current day service levels have been offset over time by the use of reserve funds, and the ‘borrowing’ of staff time from other departments. This approach is not sustainable,” Perrin’s report read.
“Community Services Administration believes that, at a minimum, a requisition to support existing service level objectives is $250,000 and, if the Board is supportive of adjusting the requisition with a limit in place, that limit should be $350,000,” she continued.
The current tax rate for the service is 0.0191, meaning with the present requisition limit, a home worth $100K pays $1.91 for the service and a home worth $500K pays $9.55. Should the limit be raised to $250K annually, a $100K home would pay $3.05 and a $500K home would pay $15.25 annually.
Council voted to consent to the requisition increase, believing it would be in residents’ best interest.
Council received the bylaw enforcement summary report for August 2023, which stated the month saw the bylaw officer handle most interactions “verbally and on the spot.”
According to the report, the bylaw officer received ten new complaints that resulted in files being opened. Compliance was achieved on multiple pre-existing files, resulting in five being closed. A total of 24 files remained open at the end of August. New files include four good neighbor violations, one noise control complaint, one open air burning violation, a solid waste collection contravention, two traffic regulation violations, and a zoning bylaw infraction.
Council entered into a Committee of the Whole to discuss the two submissions the Village received for a new entrance sign.
Village staff recommended a blue pylon design for the new sign because Council previously asked for a fresh new design, the design is similar to those in surrounding communities and there were concerns with building a sign similar to the pre-existing archway. Read the full story in this week's issue.
Council approved a 5.5 per cent tax increase for the 2024 budget to ensure financial stability of its water, roads and sewer systems. Togerson said the increase may not be enough, but the Village will start at 5.5 per cent. Blanchette replied saying staff will find a way, noting that Vancouver saw a property tax increase of nearly 11 per cent in 2023.
Council adopted the Manufactured Home Park Regulations Bylaw No. 880, 2023, which effectively repealed the Residential Mobile Home Parks Bylaw No. 139, initially adopted in 1977. According to a staff report, the 1977 bylaw hadn’t been updated or amended since its adoption and required a complete rewrite to update outdated regulations, remove all zoning regulations to add to the zoning bylaw, and change the name of the Mobile Home Parks to Manufactured Home Park to permit mobile homes and modular homes in a home park.
Zoning Bylaw No. 884, 2021 Amendment Bylaw No. 881, 2023 was also adopted, which reduces the minimum parcel size from 5 acres to 4.5 acres and allows modular homes to be used as well as mobile homes
Council gave the Officer Designation and Delegation of Authority Bylaw No. 882, 2023 a third reading after it was amended at a special council meeting on August 30th. The bylaw aims to streamline village operations. Read more about this bylaw in this week’s issue.
Council gave Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw No. 883, 2023 its first, second, and third reading. This bylaw provides a 25 per cent tax exemption to the District Royal Canadian Legion Branch #266, the Valemount Affordable Rental Society, the Valemount Curling Club, the Valemount Learning Society, and the Valemount Lions Club.
No public comments were received. Council then moved to an in-camera meeting.
Spencer Hall, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Rocky Mountain Goat, The Rocky Mountain Goat