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Pemberton council OKs nature centre grant application

Council briefs: Fourth quarter departmental reports
Pemberton One Mile Lake Nature Centre - Photo by Crystal Brown Photography
UPGRADE APPLICATION The One Mile Lake Nature Centre in Pemberton hopes a grant application for water, sewer and power improvements is successful.

The One Mile Lake Nature Centre could soon see some upgrades if a recently submitted grant application comes through.

At the Village of Pemberton’s (VOP) regular council meeting on Feb. 2, communications and grant coordinator Vinka Hutchinson reported that she drafted and submitted an application for infrastructure upgrades to the centre to the federal government’s COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream to hit the intake’s Jan. 27 deadline. She presented to council to ask for its endorsement.

Among the proposed upgrades are: installation and tie-in of a new water main, sanitary-force main and electrical line to the centre, which is owned and operated by the Stewardship Pemberton Society (SPS) on lands it leases from the VOP. All of the upgrades were previously identified as priorities in the 2016 One Mile Lake Master Plan.

The total budget for the project is $622,800, with $614,550 eligible to be covered by the grant. The remaining $8,500 is in-kind labour from the public works and communications departments. Projects must be underway by Sept. 30 and finished by the end of the year.

Chief administrative officer Nikki Gilmore said the SPS had previously presented council with a Class C estimate for the projects in 2019.

“They are basically an off-grid operation,” she said. “They have a compostable toilet and they have solar power.

“Part of the issue is they aren’t able to deliver as many services year-round, especially in the winter.”

Gilmore added that in recent years, the nature centre has hosted children’s after-school and summer-camp programming and the upgrades would allow it to expand its offerings.

“They aren’t able to meet everything that they’d like to achieve at the current location without having some additional assistance with water, sewer and power,” she said. “This funding application came about. It had a really quick turnaround time and the idea is that those projects that were shovel-ready would be the ones that would qualify.”

Nature centre executive director Sarah Jones said that the upgrades would allow the centre to welcome additional programming, including filling after-school and professional-development-day gaps.

“The hope would be that we would hold our nature education camp year-round for the community,” she said. “They’re very much sought after in the spring, summer and fall. Unfortunately, just with the amount of power draw needed to keep the space warm and keep the lights on, it’s just too much for our current capacity.”

Jones added that the upgrades could mean the centre could operate an educational hatchery, noting that the current systems don’t allow for it.

Village of Pemberton departments present fourth-quarter reports

With lower-than-expected snowfall in the October-to-December fourth quarter (aside from an early dump and then consistent precipitation starting around Christmas), manager of operations and projects Tom Csima said his staff members were able to take on other priorities during autumn.

That included bringing the sand that was removed during the wastewater treatment plant outfall project to the beach at One Mile Lake.

“In the spring, we expect for people to be quite pleased with that. There was quite a bit of erosion and the sand was pretty rocky,” he said.

Csima also reported that the quarter saw a sewer back-up in The Glen, though it did not end up creating major issues.

“We had an issue where there was a large amount of grease at the outlet of one of the last manholes to the lift station. As a result, pretty much the whole Glen sewage system backed up,” he said. “Luckily, the [spillage] went into a ditch and an enclosed culvert, so it was relatively isolated.”

As well, Csima said crews explored the site for a well at the Pemberton & District Recreation Site to irrigate the soccer fields, but ran into issues.

“Unfortunately, we did not manage to successfully find a good water source there,” he said. “With the bedrock, you’re kind of guessing, to put it lightly. We don’t want to spend too much money and the first attempt failed, so we’re going to have to regroup and perhaps look at irrigation ponds or some other way to reduce our water usage out there.”

Mayor Mike Richman noted that well exploration was included as part of a funding application for the soccer fields. Each exploration well runs about $30,000, and that while the search for wells hasn’t been abandoned, staff is trying to proceed in the most prudent manner, explained Csima. Tapping into the high-water table in the area could also be an option.

“For each attempt that I make, we’re then approaching exceeding the budget to actually develop a well,” said Csima. “We tried to pick a location that would be the most probable to not have this issue and we still hit bedrock at 108 feet [33 metres].”

On another front Csima noted that, to lift people’s spirits, more time and effort went into Christmas lights this year.

“We tried to go a little bit further with it and we hope to continue that over the years,” he said, adding that in the coming years, he plans to allocate some budget for “new, flashy light bulbs” to further improve the display.

Meanwhile, manager of recreation services Christine Burns said the department’s after-school program has been full most days.

“We’ve created more consistency in children’s programming as a result of those things, with consistent staffing and everything else,” she said, adding that fitness programs with modified capacity had a wait list while December saw seniors’ programming start to return.

She’s also been impressed with how staff members have adapted during the pandemic, particularly during a closure of the community centre earlier this month as a precaution against rising case counts.

“I’m pretty proud of the team. It’s been a roller coaster,” she said. “Some decisions that weren’t easy to make were made.”

Meanwhile, manager of development services Lisa Pedrini said the department continued to be red-hot, with 37 building permits issued with a construction value of more than $11 million and just over $91,000 in permit fees collected.

All told in 2020, the VOP issued 100 building permits, up from 87 in 2019.

As for development cost charges, the department collected nearly $14,000 in the quarter with more than $110,000 brought in over the year, which was up 136 per cent from 2019.

“COVID definitely did not stop or slow down the building world. We were quite busy,” Pedrini said.

Lastly, Pemberton Fire Rescue Chief Robert Grossman said the 81 incidents in the quarter was a decrease of 19 from the same period in 2019, chalking it up in large part to people staying home more often and the department not responding to medical emergencies during the pandemic.