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École La Vallée school project closer to breaking ground

Public hearing scheduled for July 13
Pemberton council gave first readings to bylaws that will pave the way for a new French-first school on June 1.

École La Vallée is one step closer to having a new school.

Pemberton council voted on Tuesday, June 1 to give first and second reading to amendment bylaws to both the Official Community Plan and zoning that would change the area from residential to school use. 

The French-first school, which would be located north of Highway 99 before entering the Village in the Tiyata development, is currently housed in portables near Signal Hill Elementary School and serves Kindergarten to Grade 8. 

The new Kindergarten to Grade 12 school would serve 390 students, 12 infant and toddler childcare spaces and 25 preschool spaces, limited to Francophone families only, said Lisa Pedrini, manager of development services, during the meeting. 

“In terms of future enrolment, the School District 93 expects to see enrolment of the new proposed school from nearby areas, such as Whistler, mostly for its secondary program,” she said. 

While the building would be three storeys, the school footprint would be about 5,000-square-metres with a basketball court and full-size playing field, as well as a full-size gymnasium. 

Amenities would include community gardens, new emergency access for the Tiyata development, a proposed commuter trail, and access to the Friendship Trail. The school district also said the new school would see 60 teachers and support staff hired, six clerical positions and opportunities for community work with construction “based on this $40 million capital investment by the province of B.C.,” Pedrini said. 

Potential drawbacks, however, include the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) only guaranteeing right turn in and right turn out of the property off Highway 99 (that could change, but MOTI won’t further weigh in until after third reading) and complications with the proposed pedestrian bridge over Pemberton Creek that was promised under the Tiyata development. 

“It is important to advise that our community amenity contribution policy would not require an amenity from this redevelopment because we only ask for contributions for residential land-use changes,” Pedrini said. “However, there is willingness on the part of the applicant to collaborate with the Village and see that the pedestrian connection does occur in the future.” 

A segment of the area that would be rezoned to accommodate the school was initially negotiated with the developer to be affordable housing as part of the amenity contribution package. Though it was not “a great piece of land to begin with,” Pedrini said. 

While mayor and council discussed some of those issues, ultimately, they gave the project first and second reading. 

“I feel like the school brings some good, professional jobs,” said Mayor Mike Richman. “I agree with the comments that the bridge was part of the plan from the beginning and I want to make sure that it’s clear to the applicants and throughout the process that it is a priority for us.”  

The next step for the project will be a public hearing on July 13.