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Valemount forced to appoint two councillors

Only two candidates were nominated for four seats on the Village of Valemount council.
Valmount village council
Current Village of Valemount councillors Sheri Gee, Hollie Blanchette, Mayor Own Torgerson, Donnie MacLean and Pete Pearson are seen in an official portrait. Gee and MacLean did not seek reelection.

The Village of Valemount council will be in the unusual position of having to appoint their fellow village councillors, once they are sworn in after Oct. 15.

Incumbent Mayor Owen Torgerson and incumbent councillors Holly Blanchette and Pete Pearson were the only candidates to come forward by the end of the nomination period on Sept. 9. The nomination period was extended to Sept. 12, but no additional council candidates came forward.

“This is my first time dealing with this situation," Torgerson said on Friday. “We lost two incumbents to work-life balance. One took another job and one is self-employed. I get it, it’s not for everyone.”

Village staff are working with the B.C. Ministry of Municipal Affairs on the process to recruit and appoint two additional councillors, he said.

Assuming none of the remaining candidates’ nomination papers are challenged, they will be officially acclaimed on Sept. 19, Torgerson said. Once they are sworn in, following the Oct. 15 general election day, the three members will temporarily make up quorum for the village council.

“We will have 30 days, beginning then, to appoint two councillors,” he said. “If we’re unable to, then it goes back to Municipal Affairs. Obviously we want to have those selected before it goes back to the province. There is no guarantee the ministry would appoint local people… It’s in our best interest to sit down and have a look and re-engage with the community.”

The village of roughly 1,000 people is located roughly 300 km east of Prince George, near Mount Robson Provincial Park.

Torgerson encouraged any members of the community who are interested in stepping up to serve on council, especially those with some financial background and the ability to engage in “polite, open and transparent debate,” to contact the village office and provide their contact and background information.

“It’s not easy, but it’s rewarding.”

In an email, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs confirmed that the local council will have 30 days to appoint two additional councillors, of the minsitry will do it for them.

Under Section 100 of the Local Government Act, the people appointed must be qualified to hold office and must reside in the municipality at the time of appointment. Appointed councillors have the same rights and duties as an elected councillor.

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