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Pemberton learns costs of early warning system

Lillooet River landslide warning system could cost $30,000 to start up, $15,000 to operate annually; uncertainty surrounds who would pay

Pemberton is finally putting a price on what it will take to warn it of landslide activity.

Mayor Jordan Sturdy said in a report at Tuesday's council meeting that installing an early warning system on the Lillooet River would require around $30,000 of capital and about $15,000 in annual operating costs.

The system, which would include a stream flow monitor that would cost $8,000 alone, would be installed at the Lillooet River forestry bridge and would warn valley residents if water levels in the river were to drop suddenly.

"If all of a sudden the water levels started dropping rapidly, it would set off some alarms," Sturdy said.

What is uncertain at this point is who will pay for the system. Sturdy added at the meeting that the Village, after meeting with the Pemberton Valley Dyking District and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, was under the impression that B.C.'s Ministry of Environment would pay for it, but he said that's not definitive.

"One of the suggestions that was made was the $8,000, on the streamflow requirement, would benefit local government more than anyone else," he said. "So there's a consideration of sharing the cost of the capital for that component between the Village, the regional district, Mount Currie Band and the dyking district, and then covering the maintenance costs on an annual basis.

"We'll see what the Ministry of Environment has to say about it, I guess is what it comes down to, and whether they'll support that capital cost."

Councillor Susie Gimse then asked whether the province is not assuming responsibility for the early warning system and Sturdy responded that it is not.

"It's the usual line that we don't have any money," he said. "The point is, it's their river, it's their hazard, it's their land, so I believe that it would be worthwhile for us to support this with a letter to emphasize the importance of this kind of equipment and its integration into the overall river forecasting centre's information database."

Efforts to set up an early warning system come after a major landslide came down into Capricorn Creek in the summer of 2010, a slide that proved to be the second largest by volume in Canadian history.

The entire valley was put on alert about the risk of flooding, as a large volume of water had backed up behind a debris dam at the confluence of Capricorn Creek and Meager Creek. The valley avoided any significant flooding as the water flowed out naturally through a slit in the dam.


Pemberton passes cultural plan


Council also adopted the area's cultural strategy, known as the Pemberton and Area Cultural Plan, which sets out several goals for enhancing culture throughout the Pemberton Valley.

Directions in the plan include ensuring that heritage and art is "appropriately represented" in Pemberton's cultural environment; addressing current and future spaces for Pemberton's creative sector; and communicating to valley residents what cultural resources are available to them.

Identified as cultural strengths in Pemberton are performing arts such as music, drama and dance; visual arts such as painting and sculpture; literary arts; craftmaking; traditional cultural activity such as story-telling and language studies; and heritage such as museums, historic buildings and interpretive centres.

Sturdy drew attention to a comment from the Mount Currie Band that it did not have any comments about the cultural plan when it was referred to them.

"Did it go to the right person? It seems like a real gap in the whole plan," he said.

Jill Brooksbank, a Village staffer who drew up the plan and oversaw consultations that led to its completion, said that she forwarded it to Lil'wat Chief Lucinda Phillips, as well as the band's directors of both cultural services and land and resources.

Village Administrator Daniel Sailland, who used to administer the Mount Currie Band, said that the document did reach the appropriate people. Council adopted it shortly after and resolved to bring it up at its next joint council meeting with the Mount Currie Band.


Pemberton power project gets support from B.C.'s assistant deputy minister of energy


It may be a while before it's realized, but the Village of Pemberton and Mount Currie have at least one friend in a high place when it comes to setting up a community power project.

Les MacLaren, assistant deputy minister at B.C.'s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, said in a letter attached to Tuesday's council package that he supports both the Village and the Band in their joint application to the P3 Canada Fund for money to go towards a run-of-river hydro project on Pemberton Creek.

The Village owns a license on Pemberton Creek for development of a project. It would generate electricity that would then be sold into the grid and bring revenue back to the Village and the Band.