An influx of provincial Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP) funding has boosted a trio of projects in Pemberton and the Lil’wat Nation.
The projects received grants through community economic resilience, destination development and rural economic recovery streams.
In Pemberton proper, the headliner is $974,258 allocated for the Pemberton Off-Road Cycling Association (PORCA) mountain bike skills park at the Pemberton & District Recreation site.
“We’re so excited,” said PORCA executive director Bree Thorlakson. “It’s already well received by the public and we really can’t believe it’s happening.
“We’ve been chasing that dream for three-and-a-half years.”
Thorlakson said PORCA consulted with several “world-class builders” throughout the process of creating a concept design. The grant will cover the cost of the final design in addition to construction.
Among the features that riders can expect are an asphalt pump track, dirt jumps and skill features.
“We’re trying to maximize the space as much as possible and get as many things in there as we can,” she said.
The grant money will also cover features including a drinking water fountain, an irrigation system, picnic tables, bear-proof garbage and recycling receptacles, bike racks and an electrical conduit for future lighting.
Thorlakson planned to meet with the Village of Pemberton in the near future to pin down a project timeline.
“It’s so great to have something to be excited about in town, this year especially,” she said.
“All the kids have had to give up so much and this is something this town is going to embrace and use.”
Thorlakson also expressed gratitude to the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, which helped kick start the project with a $25,000 contribution that helped secure funding down the line.
Pemberton Mayor Mike Richman was thrilled to hear the application was successful, noting that the park will be at the base of the MacKenzie area, one of Pemberton’s mountain biking jewels.
“It’s a huge win for the community and we’re super excited. We have lots of mountain-bike culture in this community and it’s growing and growing,” he said. “The skills park is going to be fabulous. We think it’s a great fit where it is.”
With the second soccer field set to be constructed this summer, Richman anticipates seeing some synergy and savings with preparing the site for both projects should the timelines align.
As well, Tourism Pemberton received $236,500 to install urine-diverting toilets in seven locations along trails, and bear-proof food caches. The organization was not prepared to comment at press time but said it would provide more details at a later date.
When Tourism Pemberton initially came to Pemberton council for support, there was general favour for the overall proposal but concern over plans to install toilets near One Mile Lake and at the recreation site.
Richman said he was satisfied that the Village’s feedback was addressed in Tourism Pemberton’s application.
“There’s no concern. I think it’s a great thing,” he said. “We saw the influx of people last spring and summer, especially from the Lower Mainland, obviously, into our backcountry area.
“We have to find any way with the province to provide facilities so that they’re leaving no trace behind when they do come through to explore.”
Additionally, Lil’wat Nation will receive $1 million for its Marketplace Infrastructure Project, for “power, water and other infrastructure servicing for mixed-use commercial development to support Indigenous business growth,” according to a release. The funding comes through the Rural Economic Recovery program.
Lil’wat chief administrative officer Kerry Mehaffey said it’s exciting to be able to lay the groundwork for the development, located between the new gas station and the Ts’zil Learning Centre, noting it will be a community hub.
“Whenever we’ve done any economic development community engagement, [the feedback] is around supporting entrepreneurs and creating space for entrepreneurs to set up their own businesses,” he said. “We’re looking around at what other communities have done, looking at some smaller commercial units … that people would be able to lease and run their businesses out of.”
Mehaffey said the types of businesses operating in those spaces will be left up to the entrepreneurs, though he hopes for a diversity of options ranging from coffee shops to art galleries to hairdressers.
The grant will cover site servicing, like hydro and sewer installation, but not construction costs. Mehaffey is hopeful that work will be completed this summer with construction taking place in 2022.