A small place in size and population, the Village of Pemberton and the wider region around it were home to some pretty big stories in 2012. Here are just a few.
In February, the Village of Pemberton (VOP) was chugging along nicely, having bought the former BC Rail train station as part of the Frontier Street redevelopment project for $285,000, with funds coming out of the council's park acquisition reserves.
The property had been on the market since 2011, with the purchase by the village "taking some months to negotiate," said Mayor Jordan Sturdy. "This is a lot that has tremendous strategic value for Pemberton."
The year also saw a request to the federal government for moving Pemberton to the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding, away from its current Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding. Sturdy said Pemberton's interests are more closely aligned with Whistler and Squamish than with Chilliwack and the Fraser Canyon. This led to a public hearing in Squamish in September, where the Federal Election Boundaries Commission heard submissions from local politicians.
The proposed Gates Lake recreational facility in Birken, between Pemberton and D'Arcy, was in the news throughout 2012. In July, an open house into the 5,000 sq. ft. recreation facility and community hall proposal was presented to the public, but the issue remained unresolved at the end of 2012.
The race to replace BC Liberal MLA Joan McIntyre began with Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy announcing his intention to seek the BC Liberal candidacy in October. As of the end of 2012, there were no other candidates for the party. The provincial election is in May 2013.
In December, Pemberton Council tabled a bylaw which would allow them to terminate its longstanding arrangement to supply water to Pemberton North, in Area C of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.
The Termination of Water Services Bylaw No. 717, 2012 A, subtitled "A Bylaw to discontinue the provision of bulk water service to Pemberton North Water System (PNWS) failing execution of a bulk water service agreement between the Village of Pemberton and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District" unanimously passed its first, second and third reading at the regular council meeting of Dec. 4.
Village of Pemberton documents cited the $448,938.19 in outstanding and unpaid fees owed to the VOP by the SLRD. The VOP has supplied water to Pemberton North since 1990. Council deferred the fourth and final reading to the Jan. 22, 2013 council meeting.
Walks on the wildside
Land and protecting the environment around the Pemberton Valley were big themes in 2012.
Early in the year, the Pemberton Valley Trails Association (PVTA) told the Village of Pemberton council that it hoped to establish an 8.5-kilometre trail up the region's iconic Mount Currie. The trail would cut through Crown Land to take users from the valley to the sub-alpine area, a rise of 1,700 metres.
The cost was estimated to be $60,000 to lay the basic trail, said PVTA secretary Chris Allen. The Pemberton Valley Utilities and Services Committee (PVUS) agreed on Feb. 6 to provide $20,000 for the trail as part of a $45,000 grant to the PVTA, and the remaining funds were raised through the year. By early winter, two kilometres of the trail had been completed.
In March, the Lil'wat Nation and BC Parks signed three major conservancy management plans to protect over 10,000 hectares (100 square km.) of Lil'wat traditional territories in perpetuity.
The three, the Qwalímak/Upper Birkenhead Conservancy, K'zuzált/Twin Two Conservancy, and Mkwal'ts Conservancy, encompass the watersheds of the Upper Birkenhead River, Twin Two Creek, and Ure Creek respectively, all of which flow into Lillooet Lake near Pemberton. Negotiations began with the B.C. government in 2006. Culturally significant and wilderness areas were included.
In June, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, along with Ducks Unlimited and the Nature Trust of British Columbia, purchased the 27.1-hectare Fulton property.
The property has a "critical trail system on it, plus the wetlands and bird watching is absolutely amazing," said to SLRD chair Susie Gimse. She added there was also old-growth forest.
"It's a good news story, really good for the community," she added. "(There is a) beautiful loop trail on the Fulton through Riverside. It's kind of like Pemberton's Stanley Park."
The land, which runs adjacent to the Lillooet River in Area C just outside Pemberton, was purchased for $430,000 through SLRD's Area C Community Parks Fund and contributions from DU and the Nature Trust.
And the whole of Pemberton did itself proud for 2012 Earth Day, when Pemberton came second in British Columbia by reducing its energy use by 6.8 per cent.
A snapshot of crimes and misdemeanors in the Pemberton area in 2011 was offered up by Sgt. Eric Rochette of Pemberton RCMP in the form of the detachment's year-end statistics at the district council meeting on Feb. 21, 2012.
Rochette, joined by Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair of the Whistler detachment said crime levels were going down, especially in terms of acts of violence and in prisoners taken into custody.
The numbers of prisoners held at the Pemberton detachment dropped by half, from 463 in 2010 to 234 in 2012. Alcohol and other stimulant abuses were a constant problem, with 90 per cent of all crimes in the region carried out by an intoxicated person.
Common assaults in the Pemberton Valley, including domestic assaults, were down from 29 in 2010 to 18 in 2012. There were no assaults with a weapon or causing bodily harm last year compared with eight in 2010.
In terms of stealing, theft under $5,000 was virtually unchanged with 29 incidents in 2010 and 30 in 2011; theft over $5,000 jumped significantly with six in 2012 compared to one in 2010. Rochette said the majority of these items were heavy-duty equipment, and four of the 2012 cases had been solved.
Drug offenses remained low, and Rochette said most arrests came when offenders were stopped for other reasons and then found to be in possession of narcotics. Motor vehicle accidents "saw a significant reduction," with incidents resulting in damage of over $1,000 dropped by more than half.
Other previously gathered information on the community which came out in 2012 included population levels taken from the 2011 census: Pemberton's population jumped by 8.1 per cent, while Area C dropped from 1,887 in 2006 to a population of 1,804. Area C includes the rural areas outside of Pemberton and the percentage decline equals 4.4 per cent.
Pemberton and District Museum and Archives Society received a grant of $66,375 from the federal government to equip a new archives and display building. The funding will complete a new, two-storey 2,600 square-foot building with flooring, wiring and lighting, insulation and plumbing; it will pay for the creation of additional museum storage, display and public access space.
"All the pieces fit together and I'm tickled pink!" Society president George Henry said.
In May, Toronto civic and grassroots activist Dave Meslin visited Pemberton to talk about how to promote open government, drawing on his own efforts. He praised the Village of Pemberton's communications efforts, including its simplified public information notices system, saying it was among the best he'd seen, and presented Mayor Jordan Sturdy with the "2012 Dazzling Notice Award" to laughter and applause.
This resulted in the Village offices getting calls from cities and municipalities across Canada, all interested in knowing more about its successes in increasing public engagement. Calls from the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the District of Squamish, and further afield from North Vancouver, Kamloops, Maple Ridge, Terrace, Nanaimo, and, wait for it, Waterloo, Ont.
The year ended with former president of the Pemberton Chamber of Commerce and three-term councillor Mark Blundell being presented with a Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal to celebrate Elizabeth II's 60-year reign.
"I'm proud to be a citizen and business person here, and to be able to support whenever and however we can," Blundell said in an interview.
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