2017 Year in Review

Dianne St. Jean

The following is a brief review of 2017, and while there were major stories within the province, the recap focuses more on local news. Many things happened that were undoubtedly important to some individuals; however, if some events are not included below, it by no means reflects importance, but were omitted due to space restrictions. Events are listed in order of occurrence in the year.

McBride Municipal By-election

The early part of 2017 saw nine candidates enter the municipal by-election race in McBride to replace three former councillors who had handed in their resignations at the same time in November 2016. With just Mayor Loranne Martin and Councillor Rick Thompson representing the Village and without a quorum, the Village was unable to make any major decisions for a time. Rosemary Hruby, Lucille Green, and Harold Edwards were the successful candidates.

New CAO for Village of Valemount

Adam Davey was appointed the new CAO for the Village of Valemount in February. Davey replaced CAO Mark MacNeil.

Trans Mountain Pipeline Project

Throughout the year Kinder Morgan hosted a number of public meetings in Valemount to provide updates on the progress of construction plans for the Trans Mountain pipeline project. Initially a peak work force of about 700 was anticipated for Valemount for the Spring of 2018. At the end of 2017, it was announced that the workers camp would not happen until late summer or early autumn 2018.

2017 Year in Review

Left to right: Regional District Fraser-Fort George Area H representative Dannielle Alan; Valemount Glacier Destinations resort architect Oberto Oberti; Chief of Simpcw First Nation Nathan Matthew; Mayor of Village of Valemount Jeannette Townsend; and the Hon. Shirley Bond, MLA Prince George-Valemount, holding up the Master Development Agreement which was signed on March 28.


Plans for Valemount airport runway extension

Plans to upgrade the runway at the Valemount airport from a 2B non-instrument runway to a Code 3C non-precision instrument runway began early in 2017 in anticipation of the approval and construction of Valemount Glacier Destinations Resort (VGDR).

First Winter Festival a success

Valemount PAC’s first Winter Festival fundraiser in March was a success, this after concern of a possible lack of snow for the outdoor events. Days before the event, Valemount was treated to snow and snow and more snow. The Festival, which featured dog sled rides, raised approximately $2,500 and was a lot of fun.

RDFFG celebrates 50 years

The RDFFG celebrated its 50th year of incorporation (March 8) with a listing of 50 notable events, places and projects in the region, part of which included holding its Board meetings in McBride, Valemount and Mackenzie.

Air quality hot issue in Valemount

Air quality became a hot issue in Valemount, raising debate on burning by-laws and practices. The debate was sparked in the beginning of December 2016 after the majority of village residents awoke to a shroud of socked-in thick smoke that affected residents’ health. Later in the year (November) an Air Quality and Health forum was held in Valemount discussing causes of poor air quality and possible alternatives to current practices. The Village of Valemount has included air quality as one of its top priorities in 2018.

VGDR Master Development Agreement approved

At the end of March Shirley Bond MLA for Prince George-Valemount announced the approval of the Master Development Agreement for Valemount Glacier Destinations. Nathan Mathew, Chief of Simpcw First Nation, the Hon Shirley Bond, and resort designer Oberto Oberti signed the Valemount Glacier Destinations Resort Master Development agreement on March 28. Later, the soft opening of the resort was pushed back for the summer of 2019, with an operational winter opening expected sometime in 2020/2021.

New Valemount College launched

Eric Kromhout was hired as the Director for the new Valemount College.
Eric Kromhout was hired as the Director for the new Valemount College.
Varda photo

Plans moved ahead toward the formation of Valemount College. Office space was established at Gorse Street and Eric Kromhout was hired on as College Director in June. College courses, which include Certificate programs, focus on rural mountain themes.





BKB Cedar Mills fire

BKB Cedar Mill's building after the fire
BKB Cedar Mill's building after the fire

On April 5 BKB Cedar Mill in McBride was devastated by fire, putting about 35 employees out of work. A mulch pile on the property continued to flare up, keeping fire fighters working round the clock for days. The Robson Valley Support Society, WorkBC, Valemount Learning Centre, along with the office of MLA Shirley Bond and private citizens and businesses rallied around the community. Mill owner Raj Basran is determined to slowly bring the mill back to production. An overheated electrical motor was later determined to be the cause of the fire.

Provincial election

2017 also saw a provincial election. Campaigning for this area were the Hon. Shirley Bond for the Liberal Party, Natalie Fletcher for the NDP, and Nan Kendy for the Green Party. Although the Liberal Party won by a slim margin, their government was overthrown by a coalition vote of non-confidence from the other two parties, overturning the Liberal victory and making the NDP the official provincial government.

Valemount Curling Club seeks taxation support

At the request of the Valemount Curling Club, the RDFFG hosted public meetings on the possibility of a taxation service to support the Club. An assent vote (referendum) later defeated the proposition.

VCTV a winner

VCTV (Valemount Entertainment Society) made the news by again winning a Tuned In Canada award from the CCSA. Valemount Entertainment Society also celebrated 30 years, and made significant upgrades to their equipment toward conversion to all digital channels.

Valemount Craft Beer Experience festival

Valemount’s first Craft Beer Festival was launched in June and was a grand success. The Festival, which featured craft beer and wines from a range of producers, also raised money in support of veterans and community groups. The event was held at the Valemount Airport.

Mountain Bike Park expansion

VARDA added new additions to the park including a designated climbing/uptrack and two new downhill trails (announced in June). Over 200 people attended the June 17 weekend for a day of riding, demos and BBQ, (happily) overwhelming organizers.

2017 Year in Review

Over 200 people, more than double what was expected, showed up at the Valemount Bike Park on June 17 for a day of riding, demos and BBQ. According to Curtis Pawliuk (VARDA), the event was an incredible success.
“It was amazing,” says Pawliuk. “We were so surprised at the turnout. Obviously more than expected.”
Valemount’s Bike Park continues to gain ground and popularity as one of Valemount’s prime tourist and recreational venues. This summer VARDA is planning to add three new additions to the park, including a designated climbing/uptrack, and two new downhill trails.

BC burns up

And, of course it was a summer of fires, with major evacuations taking place across the province including Williams and Burns Lake areas. Many evacuees passed through or stopped at Valemount and McBride, which opened their doors providing shelter, food and some comfort. Our armed forces and generous citizens and business such as WCP (Western Canadian Powerstrokes, Ft. McMurray) gave their time, energy, and raised supplies for evacuees.


Geothermal Project near Valemount

Monitoring stations have been installed throughout the Valemount area as part of Borealis GeoPower’s research on geothermal development.
Monitoring stations have been installed throughout the Valemount area as part of Borealis GeoPower’s research on geothermal development.
Submitted photo

Geothermal research and testing, including seismic monitoring was carried out by Borealis GeoPower along with the help of Alberta University students. They were also successful in acquiring an extension to their original (2010) permit that allows them exclusive right to drill wells for the Canoe Reach project near Valemount.

The permit, granted under the Geothermal Resources Act by the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, required Borealis to meet a number of conditions. Prospects of successful geothermal development have profound economic and environmental implications for Valemount and surrounding area.

Greyhound Bus Lines petition to stop service in northern BC

Greyhound Bus Lines made application to cease service routes in northern BC, citing high costs and low customer usage as the reason. The cancellation of these routes directly affects Valemount, McBride and Prince George among other rural communities.

New Board of Directors and GM for MCFC

After the last couple of years of loss and disorganization, the new Board of Directors and consultants appears to be stabilizing the MCFC. New General Manager Gene Runtz says consultants are making the corporation profitable and more open, with information more readily available and quickly accessible.