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Pemberton council waives development fees for Harrow Road affordable housing project

Sea to Sky Community Service building expected to be completed within five years
Harrow road rendering
An artist's rendering showing what the Harrow Road apartment complex will look like after completion.

An affordable housing project in Pemberton is getting an assist after council agreed to waive associated development fees.

The request from Sea to Sky Community Services for the project on Harrow Road was considered at the Village of Pemberton’s (VOP) Nov. 21 council meeting.

With council’s approval, the VOP will waive development fees associated with the project totalling $311,383.

Sea to Sky Community Services (SSCS) submitted the request in June 2022, along with a rationale letter detailing the benefits the project will bring to the community.

The community service provider first opened a small office in Pemberton in 1992, the letter said.

“Today, SSCS operates 32 programs locally in Pemberton serving 2,241 individuals,” it said. “We invest $2 million (2022 budget) in programs and services in Pemberton and currently employ 15 full-time employees.”

Located at Harrow Road and Highway 99, the 63-unit, five-storey building will feature a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, with 30 per cent allocated for market rentals, 50 per cent for “rent geared to income” and 20 per cent for low- income households. The 9,000-square-foot bottom floor will be used for SSCS’ new offices—in which they will run 28 of the 40 programs they offer throughout the Sea to Sky—with the rest of the space slated for commercial uses. The project is “highly likely” to be completed within five years.

A two-year permissive tax exemption was previously adopted at a council meeting on Oct. 31. In 2024, the estimated amount of foregone municipal tax stemming from the Harrow Road project will be $4,691. In 2025, it will be $5,066.

McCrae explained the development application fees of $35,350 were already paid, so they will have to be refunded. Building permit fees are still due, and total $250,833, while water and sewer connection fees will come to $25,200.

Council was presented with two options: Either grant 100 per cent of the fees requested for refund and waiver by SSCS, or refer the request back to staff with considerations.

Councillor Ted Craddock put forward a motion to move forward with Option 1, which was carried.

Coun. Katrina Nightingale asked if there is a best practice when it comes to deciding which projects qualify for their fees to be waived.

Manager of development services Scott McCrae said Pemberton is off-market for projects like this, and therefore different to larger cities with tier systems.

“There are a variety of ways to approach this,” he said. “We looked at Squamish for our waiver policy. It would make sense to keep this as a largely discretionary thing for council.”

SSCS is eyeing 2025 as a possible move-in date for the new building.

“It has been an incredibly rewarding process for us,” said Jaye Russell, executive director of SSCS, after the project’s approval in October 2022. “We’re so proud of the community, we’re so grateful for the support of mayor and council … We are just so excited to bring this incredible resource to the community that will have such a great impact in the short and long term.

“Above all, we’re so committed to being a good neighbour and continuing to be of service to the community.”