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Pemberton council crunching the numbers on 2024 budget

Info session set for March 5; Preliminary tax implications to come in March
downtownpemberton
An aerial view of downtown Pemberton.

Budget deliberations are underway in Pemberton.

At the Village of Pemberton’s (VOP) Jan. 23 Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting, mayor and council received a presentation from manager of finance Thomas Sikora. It was the first of four budgeting sessions for 2024, and allowed council to ensure this year’s budget matches its strategic priorities.

Council’s key priorities are: plan and manage growth; be prepared; protect our environment; cultivate trust; and operate with excellence.

A public information session will be held on Tuesday, March 5. It will allow locals to raise questions and learn more about this year’s budget. The preliminary tax implications and recommendations of 2024’s revised draft budget will also be presented at a COW meeting on the same day.

Sikora opened the Jan. 23 presentation with an overview of market conditions that will impact the budget, including the B.C. Consumer Price Index of 3.9 per cent, as well as the BC Assessment non-market change (6.73 per cent) and market change (1.1 per cent). The operating budget for 2024 shows a deficit of $240,931. However, these figures are still subject to change.

Other pressures will come from aging infrastructure and equipment, and increased construction and insurance costs. A positive note is labour turnover in Pemberton is now finally slowing. In 2023, the turnover rate was 16 per cent compared to 25 per cent in 2022 and 35 per cent in 2021.

Manager of operations and projects, Tom Csima, also provided an update on some key capital projects at the meeting.

Projects undertaken in 2023 include: a daycare expansion; Friendship Trail improvements along Pemberton Farm Road East; a new sidewalk near Signal Hill; purchase of a F550 plow truck; a storage building at Den Duyf Park; and EV chargers on Aster Street.

Some of the projects planned for 2024 include: construction of a new amenity building at Den Duyf Park; the Lot 13 multi-modal hub (which will include bays for BC Transit buses as a second phase to the project); upgrades to the water treatment plant; and airport runway crack sealing.

Fire Chief Cameron Adams was also on hand to share details on his department’s capital requests, which include development of a live fire training facility that will allow the department to complete mandatory training, and replacement of Engine 10 and Ladder 1 in 2026, and Engine 11 and Rescue 1 in 2028. Council also discussed plans for a new fire hall in the locality.

Councillors were asked to review the projects and think about what was missing. Some of the suggestions put forward included: a cohesive network of trails including a trail connecting Harrow Road to Fraser Road; upgrading and improving the One Mile Lake boardwalk; painting the train station; shade for the dog park and other parks; and further development of Den Duyf Park.

Other missing pieces include an ice rink and improved lighting at the community barn; a Lions Club housing development; and more trees in green space at the Community Centre.

Council also has to consider how it will pay for increased policing costs once the community’s population passes 5,000, as well as a new fire hall.

The VOP’s chief administrative officer, Elizabeth Tracy, asked council to consider how to prioritize the projects based on urgency, while Sikora suggested councillors consider the priorities within the five-year plan to assist with budgeting.

Capital project priorities were further discussed at council’s second budget session on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Mayor Mike Richman wanted to make sure projects not included in the 2024 budget are still being worked on.

“We are so grant-dependant. When you look around the town at the cool things that we have done over the years, at least a portion of them have been funded through grants,” he said. “I think to get some of these amenities and services that we want for our residents, we have to be a little bit reactive and recognize when opportunities are in front of us. I don’t want to just throw a whole bunch of stuff on the Five-Year Plan.”

Richman noted there is potential for some projects to get lost in the shuffle.

“I don’t want us to lose sight of what could be some very interesting amenities for our community,” he said. “We have seen things put on the Five-Year Plan for 15 years.”

Find more info and read the budget documents yourself at pemberton.ca/budget.

Residents are invited to participate in the budget process by submitting feedback via email to budget@pemberton.ca.