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Winds of Change will blow on

Report to come to joint Pemberton-Mount Currie council meeting Oct. 27

Mount Currie and Pemberton have renewed their respective interest in Winds of Change after an Oct. 13 forum brought a "really good turnout" from both communities.

The Winds of Change task force grew out of the tragic death of Ross Leo, a Mount Currie teen who was beaten dead in Pemberton during an alcohol-fuelled altercation. The two communities formed Winds of Change, a joint committee, in 2004 to examine drug- and alcohol-related issues throughout the valley.

The committee's terms of reference came up with 13 recommendations separated into four categories, or "winds," to guide its work.

A recent letter to the editor from Sheldon Tetreault, former administrator for the Mount Currie Band of the Lil'wat Nation, brought up the question of where Winds of Change has to go from here and the Oct. 13 forum may have generated some answers.

Lori Pilon, administrator for the Village of Pemberton, said approximately 30 people attended last week's meeting. All of Pemberton council was present for it and six councillors attended from Mount Currie, along with three of the band's senior staff.

Pilon said that councils for both the Pemberton and Mount Currie will now review the committee's terms of reference and update them if required. They've also considered designating a staff person to oversee its work.

She said delegating the committee to a staffer could be "more effective or efficient" and perhaps help provide it with a "bit of core funding." Ultimately the meeting will generate a report that will be brought before the Pemberton-Mount Currie joint council meeting on Oct. 27.

Pilon went on to say that future Winds of Change meetings could focus on a possible sobering centre for the valley, which is seen as an important place for alcoholics to recover before they enter treatment. Other initiatives include hosting drug and alcohol seminars in the high schools of both communities and updating Pemberton's drug and alcohol resource guide.

"Those are the ones that come to mind, there were several others," she said. "I think we need to do more work to get a strong commitment."

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said the meeting re-affirmed the need for Winds of Change to "continue its evolution."

"There was an examination of the four winds and the corresponding recommendations of the four winds," he said. "There was a re-examination of whether all of the recommendations were worthy of being retained and I think there were some recommendations made.

"It was decided they really need to be looked at more specifically to ensure they were all still priorities."

Initiatives discussed at the meeting included transportation in the valley. Transportation has been a key focus of Winds of Change, as it helped bring about the ElderGo! bus service that shuttled elders and seniors between Pemberton and Mount Currie. That service was recently discontinued but communities are still committed to better transit.

"One of the things I agreed to follow up on was a meeting between all the various transit providers and stakeholders in the Pemberton Valley to see if we are working in a collaborative way to provide the best service to everybody," Sturdy said.

"We have our existing Pemberton transit service, we have a Mount Currie bus service, we also have a Mount Currie elders' program.

"We felt that there may well be an opportunity there to coordinate some of these services and provide a service specifically to youth to get back to Mount Currie, for example, so that you go skateboarding after school for a couple of hours and still get home."

Pemberton Councillor Susie Gimse, who also serves as director of Area C on the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, said at Tuesday's council meeting that she'll work to establish scholarships at Pemberton Secondary School and the X'itolacw Community School in Mount Currie.

"Clearly the general consensus was there's value in Winds of Change and we should continue to move forward," she said.