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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

garding recent efforts to lobby for a correctional facility in the Valley?

Interview with Jeannette cont’ A: I think it is the resilience of the people of Valemount. I know that the people of Valemount are much more independent. They do not look for a hand-out from senior levels of government. Our policy at the Village [was] always ‘this is what we have, this is what we want to do. This is what it is going to do for the province and the federal government if this project happens.’ They will always contribute resources to assist us in achieving our projects and goals. It is the people of the town. They are just selfsufficient and independent. Q: One of the major changes that you initiated upon assuming office was an aggressive re-imaging of Valemount as a growing tourism destination. Some are concerned that recent logging practices plainly visible from our highways are threatening these very efforts. How should the village balance the visual impacts of logging and it efforts to promote tourism? A: I think it is really important to get the information out that it is the mountain pine beetle that is creating all those landscape changes. I think it is more beneficial economically to remove those trees while they can still be used, rather than once the needles have all fallen off. I do not think that dead trees are complementary to a landscape at all. In September 1999 we organized a “Rural Communities’ Survival Seminar”… we had many professional people here to facilitate this seminar … The determination was that we would always be a blended economy. We would do forestry and tourism ... when you have a secondary industry, it acts as a shock absorber. In 1991, when the mill was closed more than it was operating, one would see perhaps one car on 5th Avenue when you came down midday. Well the mill has been closed for three years, and look how busy 5th Avenue is now. It is because tourism is acting as the shock absorber now. Q: So do you think that tourism is our secondary industry or is logging our secondary industry?

A: I always thought that forestry was our primary industry ... with the mill closed maybe it isn’t. I don’t know but I know that tourism is massively growing. Q: Some in this town have criticized your economic policy as being far too dependent on growth of the tourism sector. Some feel that tourism jobs do not pay high enough and that they are not worth the effort. How do you respond to these critics? A: [Tourism] was always a secondary industry, and it is acting as the shock absorber right now. Look as the snowmobile industry. It is the snowmobiles that keep the hotels and restaurants open in the winter time and in June, July, August and September you see all the RVs in town. There are a lot of opportunities for small tourism operators to start businesses. We see a lot that are offering hiking etc. Q What are the opportunities for locals to make money in a tourism industry in ways other than typical service industry jobs and wages? You were saying owner operator? A: I think so. Q: It does seem like the cost of starting these days is very cost prohibitive compared to ever before, but there is more official assistance than there has ever been. A: That is right. But Columbia Basin Trust has a contract with consultants, Business Advocates from Cranbrook, and they will come up here anytime to spend time with new businesses and existing businesses. They used to advertise in the paper that they were coming, but very few people took advantage of it, and finally nobody took advantage of this consultation. But they are still available if anybody wants to take advantage of their services. Q: Do you have any opinions one way or the other re-

Cuts to B.C. Parks budget Joseph Nusse jnusse@therockymountaingoat.com

had to look at ways to reduce expenditures and find creative ways to deal with rising costs. He says the primary means of dealing with the budget pressures is through an increase in recreational user fees, which began April 1st. Many parks will see planned capital investment projects continue despite the budget cuts. Over 80 per cent of planned capital projects for 2010-11 are dedicated to the refurbishment or replacement of existing facilities. Parks infrastructure upgrades include implementing new water systems and upgrading existing water systems and upgrading facilities such as shower buildings, picnic shelters, roads, trails, bridges, flush toilets, pit toilets,

playgrounds, gatehouses, docks, mooring buoys, picnic tables, benches, retaining walls and stairs. Some of the projects that will go ahead this year include: The Mahood Lake water system in Wells Gray Provincial Park will be completed by this fall for $90,000. In Mount Robson Provincial Park, toilet and shower building upgrades are projected to be completed by October at a cost of $150,000. The East Portal redesign (on the eastern boundary of Mount Robson Park) is projected to be completed by December at a cost of $390,000. The Mount Robson Core Area project, including a visitor centre deck, play-

Q: Other than some sort of wood processing, a prison, or tourism, what, in your opinion, would be a viable option for job creation in the Valley? A: Someone suggested that there be a brewery for beer, just like the Pacific Brewery in Prince George. And we have all this beautiful water here that could be used. I am thinking that we do have the rail line that goes right past here that would be a real asset to a manufacturing business. I also think that a truck stop would be good to look into because they built one in Sherwood Park and that just expanded into all kinds of development around it. We are midway between Vancouver and Edmonton. There are a lot of semis going by here. The Yellowhead Pass is the least closed of all mountain passes in North America as well as the lowest grade. That’s why many of those trucks that are delivering to Vancouver are coming to Tête Jaune and then going south. So a truck stop would be a very viable thought. Q: After putting so much time and energy into your job as mayor of Valemount, are you finding it hard to leave it all behind? Do you still find yourself taking that job home with you? A: I take it home with me when I meet people in the grocery store, or the post office, and they are unhappy about something. Like [former] prime minister Chrétien said when he retired, ‘I don’t want to be the mother in-law.’ But if there is something I can do to help the community, I will.

Local park upgrades still have go-ahead

The provincial budget for Parks and Protected Areas is shrinking by $1.1 million in the coming year due to budget cuts and increasing costs. In 2009-10, the Parks budget was just shy of $31.5 million. It dropped by $644,000 in this year’s budget. The cost to deliver recreational services in parks has also risen, meaning an additional decrease of $450,000 from last year’s funds. Suntanu Dalal, Public Affairs Officer for the Ministry of Environment says despite these budget pressures, the ministry is looking at ways to maintain service levels. “Our priorities and commitments for B.C. Parks have not changed.” Dalal says B.C. Parks has

A: I think anything positive is worth investigating and doing some research. I am not going to say that I am in favour, nor am I going to say that I am not in favour, but the people need to get together, and they need information. Valemount was designated as a resort municipality by the province of British Columbia. There is a very active tourism committee and they have contracted a marketing consulting firm a little more than a year ago that has brought in branding. If a prison comes to town what will happen to the resort municipality designation? People need to take time to think, and they need to look at the ramifications very carefully before they make a decision to pursue something.

ground and sani-station improvements, is projected to be completed later this month at a cost of $275,000. A new deck and stairs at Rearguard Falls Provincial Parks will allow visitors to safely view the falls and is projected to be completed by September at a cost of $475,000. Jackman Flats Provincial Park, Mount Terry Fox Provincial Park and West Twin Provincial Park should remain unaffected by budget changes for the remainder of 2010. Over the past five years, the B.C. government has invested approximately $107 million to improve park infrastructure and acquire additional parkland. Comments? jnusse@therockymountaingoat.com

Q: Is your political career over or are you willing to consider running for office at any level again? A: At this point, no. I did in 2000, federally, because I was unhappy with the lack of assistance with our federal member of parliament. They had asked me a number of times, the Liberal Party did, to run federally. I took the chance knowing that this riding has not had a Liberal MP since 1968. But I created that way a federal network and received almost three quarters of a million dollars for broadband. So I did not benefit personally, but it benefited Valemount that I ran. I would like to say to the young people, this is your nation, get involved. Not everybody is cut out to get involved politically, but those who are, those who have the propensity for it, or an aptitude for it should get involved. The Rocky Mountain Goat would like to congratulate Jeannette Townsend on being awarded the B.C. Community Achievement Award. Townsend was presented this award at Government House in Victoria on April 28, 2010 by the Honorable Steven Point, Lieutenant Governor or BC, and the Honorable Gordon Campbell, Premier of British Columbia, with the Honorable Shirley Bond, MLA, Mayor Bob Smith, and Councillor Cynthia Piper in attendance.


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