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Village of Pemberton council preview for June 30

First look: Meetings could be held electronically for the foreseeable future; Council looks to update Community Amenity Contribution Policy
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View of Mount Currie near Pemberton, BC, Canada. Photo: Getty Images

HERE'S A QUICK LOOK at what you can expect at the Village of Pemberton (VOP) council meeting on June 16 starting at 9:00 a.m.

Meetings could be held electronically for the foreseeable future

The Village of Pemberton will make its case to continue holding meetings remotely.

In her report, Manager of Corporate and Legislative Services Sheena Fraser responds to Ministerial Order No. 192 (M192), which came down from the provincial government on June 17. The order is part of the province’s restart plan and encourages local governments to resume normal operations as much as possible.

“[The order] removes the ability for a local government to give readings and adopt bylaws (other than certain financial bylaws) at one meeting and requires that local government make ‘best efforts’ to allow the public to attend open meetings in-person while still ensuring the public health orders and recommendations are being adhered to. M192 also establishes that if a local government is not able to accommodate the attendance of the public in person a resolution must be passed stating the reason for holding meetings without the public and noting how openness, transparency, accessibility and accountability are being met,” Fraser wrote in her report.

While some other jurisdictions are leaning toward reopening, the VOP is looking to continue holding its meetings via the Zoom webinar. Fraser noted in her report that council chambers are small, only 32 square metres, with the council table further reducing the area to 30 square metres. To adhere to the recommended allowance of five square metres of “unencumbered space” per person, only six people could physically attend the meetings.

Alternatives such as the Squamish Lillooet Regional District boardroom would only allow for nine total attendees, while the Pemberton and District Community Centre would saddle the municipality with rental fees for the space, tables, chairs and, possibly, a sound system in addition to increased cleaning procedures.

Fraser noted that the Zoom webinar format has worked well and fulfills all the public access requirements.

“As the Village is successfully utilizing the ZOOM webinar format for meetings, the Village is effectively ensuring that the public can not only hear, but hear and watch the proceedings, and able to participate during the open question period or public input portions of a meeting as may be required,” she wrote. “As such, the Village meets or exceeds ensuring that openness, transparency, accessibility and accountability are still being met while using an electronic meeting format and is able to meet the public participation expectations; therefore, no action is required to pass a resolution to this effect at this time.”

The order also rescinds council’s blanket ability to pass bylaws during the same meeting as third reading, which council used to pass its financial bylaws this year. Recognizing that some bylaws are critical to the “financial health and operation” of a municipality, 10 bylaws under the Community Charter or Local Government Act are still eligible for expedited approval.

Council looks to update Community Amenity Contribution Policy

The main thrust of the draft policy is to provide the Village with the ability to negotiate a wider range of amenities from developers during the rezoning process. The report recommends utilizing a density bonus process, which would allow developers to build at an increased density over and above the base density in exchange for an amenity contribution, which was not present in the 2007 document. However, the VOP used the approach to secure contributions for soccer fields from hillside developments Sunstone Ridge Developments and The Ridge at Pemberton. The tactic is allowed in the Local Government Act, with municipalities most commonly using it to secure on-site amenities such as affordable housing or social housing for people with special needs. It can also be utilized for open space, public art, childcare facilities, or cash-in-lieu to be placed in a municipal reserve fund for a major project.

“The intent of this policy document is to clearly state the Village’s approach to obtaining Voluntary Community Amenity Contributions through negotiation with developers on a case-by-case basis. This is to also ensure that the public, landowners, and developers understand the Village’s expectations, purpose and mechanisms for these voluntary contributions while staying within the letter of the law,” Manager of Development Services Lisa Pedrini and Contract Planner Cameron Chalmers wrote in their report.

The report underlines the importance of considering each application individually and to avoid setting targets or rates to avoid the perception that council is using rezoning applications as a revenue stream or that the process itself is up for sale, which could shake the faith of developers or the public.

The draft policy also avoids considering “land lift,” or the increase in a land’s value as a result of the change in zoning and increase in density, to calculate the anticipated amenity value, as it is not considered a best practice.

Staff recommends that council approve the draft policy and instruct it to collect feedback from developers. Other options are to reject the policy and direct staff to use exclusively density bonusing, which would limit flexibility during negotiations, or to continue with the existing 2007 policy, which does not meet legislative requirements and, again, limits flexibility during negotiations.