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Pemberton Chamber secures $100,000 for economic development strategy and action plan

Project is being steered by government, First Nations, and business stakeholders, says chamber president
Building Pemberton The Pemberton and District Chamber of Commerce hs received money that will be used to develop an economic development strategy and action plan for the Pemberton area. photo by Natlie Langmann

While economic activity may be humming along in the Pemberton Valley, some feel the area lacks a clear vision for how things should unfold in the coming decades.

That is about to change, as a group of stakeholders has just secured a $100,000 provincial government grant to develop a Community Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan for the area.

"We feel a bit of a change coming in Pemberton," said Pemberton and District Chamber of Commerce president Graham Turner. A "strategy and plan" is needed to guide a surge of economic activity going on in the area, he added.

The winning application was developed with support from the Pemberton and Area Economic Collaborative, a group that meets quarterly and includes representatives of the chamber, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, The Village of Pemberton (VOP) and local First Nations.

While the grant application was made by the chamber, the money will be administered through the VOP, as the chamber isn't large enough to have audited financials.

In Turner's view, the money will allow the collaborative to build on previous work and develop a guiding vision for the Pemberton area.

"We're all kind of working on this off the side of our desks right now," said Turner.

Some of the money—$60,000 over two years—will be used to hire a dedicated project manager who will advance the project. "We've had some very good applicants already," said Turner. "We will be interviewing for that (position) in the next couple weeks."

Pemberton hotels are filled with construction and internet-infrastructure workers, remarked Turner. "Do we even have enough beds today for tourists? These are the (important) questions, but who is actually sitting somewhere and looking at (them)?"

There will also be money for a consultant charged with stakeholder engagement, added Turner.

"We are talking about discussions between the Village, [Squamish Lillooet Regional District], N'quatqua (and) Lil'wat (Nations). This is hard work ... This has never really been done before," he said.

The project will also receive in-kind support totalling $25,000 from the SLRD, the VOP and the Lil'wat and N'Quatqua Nations.

It will work in coordination with Nuk'w7ánttal', an ongoing relationship building process that involves the VOP, Lil'wat and N'quatqua Nations and the SLRD.

The initiative is the latest high-profile project for the chamber, which recently received $10,000 from the BC Rural Dividend Program to develop a "data portal," which showcases current data and statistics for the region.

With the funding ready for the strategy, Pemberton is in a much better position to guide its economic future in a sound way, said Turner.

"Economic development is ... happening all around us," he said. "We are at a point where there is an opportunity to steer this boat."