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French-language school pitched for Pemberton

Council briefs: No response to childcare public hearing
SCHOOL SPOT The area outlined in red denotes where School District 93 hopes to build a French-language school in Pemberton’s Tiyata development. Screenshot from Village of Pemberton council package

A new school could soon be coming to Pemberton.

School District 93, the Conseil Scolaire Francophone de la C.B., has applied for an amendment to the Official Community Plan (OCP) to build a public school for Francophone education in the second phase of the Tiyata development. The school would serve roughly 390 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and also feature childcare spaces. The site would also feature playing fields and a community garden.

“The location of the school would be, basically, the second half of the Tiyata development, so it’s the vacant lands closest to Highway 99,” manager of development services Lisa Pedrini said in her presentation to council.

The land, currently zoned as residential, would need to be rezoned as civic and institutional and would also require designation as Development Permit Areas No. 1 (Environmental Protection) and No. 2 (Land Constraints).

In order to fulfill the requirements set out in the Local Government Act, council voted to proceed with two recommendations from staff to get the project underway.

“Council must consider an appropriate level of engagement for the OCP amendment in this application,” said Pedrini. “Therefore, you must determine which agencies, including local, provincial and possibly federal, and other bodies that you would like to be engaged on the application.”

Pedrini listed Lil’wat Nation, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Education, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, Pemberton Valley Dyking District, CN Rail, School District 48, Pemberton and District Chamber of Commerce and utility providers Telus and BC Hydro as stakeholders to be notified. 

She also recommended a public presentation of plans in the near future.

“We would also ask for the applicants to organize an online—I would imagine—opportunity for public engagement on the application before council would consider first and second reading of the OCP amendment bylaw,” she said.

However, in the interest of expediency, Councillor Ted Craddock wondered if first and second reading would be possible and worthwhile in advance of the engagement.

“The OCP, it’s not a big change in that situation, so to hold off first and second for another month, I’m just looking to try to facilitate moving this project forward as quickly as they can,” he said. “Obviously, if they can get it organized and into the ground in the spring, it certainly makes a lot more sense than going through this for another couple of months.”

Chief administrative officer Nikki Gilmore noted that the process doesn’t allow for such a quick turnaround.

“Typically, when we make our referrals, we allow about a month for external agencies to provide comment and we would most likely wait until we get those comments to bring first and second reading to council,” she said.

Pedrini added that it would be a time saver if the applicants held the community information session during that month-long commenting period.

“We wouldn’t bring back the bylaw until we’ve received all the referral comments as well as convened a meeting of the Advisory Land Use Commission on the land-use change,” she said. “It could take time for them to do it before first and second reading.

“Time is definitely of the essence and staff is very aware of that.”

Pedrini stressed that the purpose of the report was to kickstart the months-long process as opposed to debate the project itself.

“We’re not in a position to do first reading yet. We’re just doing our early and ongoing engagement at this stage. We’re not here to determine the merits of the application today,” she said.

Should the OCP amendment pass, the only further VOP involvement would be for staff to issue the building permit.

No response to public hearing

No members of the public had any response during the public hearing portion of the meeting regarding a zoning amendment allowing childcare in all commercial zones.

Council gave first two readings to the bylaw on Oct. 6 and gave third reading later in the meeting.

There were, however, four letters of support received before the Oct. 15 deadline, including one from Shannon Beecroft, whose application to operate a childcare centre in the former Portage Station Restaurant space brought to the fore the realization that zoning did not allow childcare centres in commercial zones. Two additional letters of support came after the deadline.
After the vote passed, Coun. Ryan Zant inquired as to the remainder of the process, as the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure must be consulted before fourth and final reading.

Gilmore confirmed that staff has already been in contact with the ministry to let them know it would be forthcoming.

“I don’t see that being hung up too much, although I don’t have a timeline,” she said. “It depends where it is in the queue.”

Gilmore added that should the amendment pass, Beecroft’s centre would need approvals that fall outside of the VOP’s purview before opening.