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Elevate at Sunstone amendment passes at Pemberton council

Council briefs: Departments present Q3 reports
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A rendering of a street-level view in the Elevate at Sunstone development. Screenshot from Village of Pemberton council agenda

The first time that Sunstone Ridge Developments Ltd. came to Village of Pemberton (VOP) council asking for some amendments to its major development permit on Oct. 20, they were sent back to the drawing board.

But after the company made some tweaks to its request, most of council was satisfied and passed the proposal at its Nov. 17 regular meeting.

On Oct. 20, council referred the amendment back to staff after expressing concern regarding issues such as visitor parking, pedestrian connectivity to areas outside the development, diversity in the look of units and how Development Permit Area Guidelines are being followed.

After requesting the number of visitor parking spaces be reduced from 13 to four, the new version sees the developers ask for a reduction to eight. In her presentation, planner Joanna Rees noted the development still has 91 more overall parking spaces than is required. 

As well, the new application includes plans for a gravel pedestrian trail to connect with the Community Trail, calls for additional trees to help screen the two-tiered retaining walls, and emphasizes the diversity presented by the site, if not the units themselves. Report writers Rees and Cameron Chalmers also noted that the Oct. 20 staff report found the project is “generally compliant with the applicable Development Permit Area Guidelines.”

When presenting to council, Rees noted that the two-tiered retaining walls between downslope units will include vine planting to help cover them, as well as coniferous trees to help hide them, while the southeastern retaining wall will be a green Sierra Earth Mechanized wall standing roughly seven metres tall.

Noting that work on the neighbourhood had already begun and would require retaining walls, Chalmers opined that what was presented is a reasonable compromise, while also noting that the Hillside Development Guidelines were approved after the project was well underway.

“The retaining structures that are being proposed in this application are certainly much better than most of the conventional alternatives,” he said. “It does allow for some green and, from a distance, will be less perceptible than the other systems that are used.

“In order for this project to work in a meaningful way, it will require some retention. There’s simply no way around it.”

Chalmers added that, by virtue of their location on the site, that the retaining walls won’t be visible by the general public.

“One of the things we have to look at is, ‘Where will people actually view the wall from?’ The way this project is situated, it’s not one that’s visually prominent from many public spaces,” he said. “It’ll be part of the trail experience, without question, but it’s not like some of the retaining walls we see in other communities, which are extremely visible from the highway or from a major public space.”

Chalmers noted that council could expect to see a discussion report on hillside retention issues in the near future.

“On hillside sites, there’s often going to be need for retention, but if those are thought of in advance and if they’re done more comprehensively than at an individual lot level, we have a much better chance of coming up with solutions that are less visually intrusive and disruptive at that scale,” he said.

Councillor Leah Noble felt council’s concerns were generally addressed but along with Coun. Ted Craddock, supported a “friendly amendment” to make the connector trail “as family friendly as possible.” Craddock also added that anything that could be done to “soften” the seven-metre-tall retaining wall should be done.

Coun. Amica Antonelli opposed the motion.

Departments present third-quarter updates

Also at the Nov. 17 meeting, various departments provided insight into what they accomplished in the third quarter of the financial year.

Manager of operations and projects Tom Csima said the period was “very productive” and updated several tasks.

Among the projects the department completed was line painting and adding more parking spots on Frontier Street North by the community barn, he noted.

“We did get a lot of feedback after the downtown [enhancement] project having removed the perpendicular parking spots,” he said. 

As well, the department bought and installed a speed reader on Pemberton Farm Road East in order to encourage motorists to slow down. 

“If we have a pole to put it on, we can move it to different neighbourhoods,” he said. “The problem with these devices is people eventually do become complacent to them, so the thought was we could move it around to different neighbourhoods periodically to remove that complacency and also to get that benefit in other neighbourhoods as well.”

Csima also updated progress on the Pemberton Farm Road East/McKenzie Road washout in January, noting that the Emergency BC Disaster Funding Assistance Program has approved the Village’s application, covering 80 per cent of restoration repair costs. 

“However, we’re being held up by BC Hydro, as most of the damage that’s remaining is related to the BC Hydro ducting,” he said. “That may require that their contractors do the repairs, and that’s going to be pretty significant.

“They’re going to have to cut back into it and replace all the ducting and we’re just waiting on BC Hydro to mobilize their crews.”

In a follow-up question after Csima’s report, chief administrative officer Nikki Gilmore said the Village is still working to determine who will pay for the remaining 20 per cent.

As well, Csima reported that, working with the Pemberton Valley Dyking District and Lil’wat Nation, the department completed One Mile Lake Fish Habitat Restoration Project.

Csima noted that beaver activity at the lake’s inlet caused lack of flow and higher temperatures, while invasive goldfish were discovered in the lake.

Ultimately, the solution to both problems was to ensure colder water could enter the lake. Crews excavated the channel with no impact on the fish habitat in August and saw results quickly.

“Visibly, you could see that the lake was changing colour to a more opaque, blue, glacial-filled type of colour,” Csima said, noting that the temperature reading dropped during the two weeks following the work’s completion.

Csima noted that the culvert feeding the inflow needs to be replaced, and the department will work with the federal Department of Fisheries to complete that project.

Meanwhile, manager of recreation services Christine Burns saw better-than-expected uptake, running 55 of 70 classes offered for 397 participants compared to running 88 of 97 offered for 698 participants during the same period last year.

“We’re still super pleased with the response from the community with how they’ve come back into the facility,” she said.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the 70 per cent number for the third quarter,” Mayor Mike Richman said. “I really didn’t expect that.”

As for the Pemberton Fire Rescue Department, Fire Chief Robert Grossman said while the number of incidences was down from the same period in 2019, that’s been due to responding to medical calls only when it’s a life-threatening situation.

The 104 incidences were a decrease of 25 overall, though medical calls were down 55 from 2019, meaning other calls were up by a total of 30.

Fire-related calls were up 30 per cent, alarms rose 14 per cent and vehicle collisions increased slightly. 

Grossman said the membership is currently at himself, deputy chief Cameron Adams and 30 volunteers.

During its fall recruitment, he added, the department interviewed 15 applicants, who also completed their physical assessments.

Lastly, manager of development services Lisa Pedrini reported that the department issued 25 building permits with a construction value of over $8.6 million, and collected a fee value of over $69,000.

The department also collected development cost charges of more than $76,000. n

Csima also updated progress on the Pemberton Farm Road East/McKenzie Road washout in January, noting that the Emergency BC Disaster Funding Assistance Program has approved the Village’s application, covering 80 per cent of restoration repair costs. 

“However, we’re being held up by BC Hydro, as most of the damage that’s remaining is related to the BC Hydro ducting,” he said. “That may require that their contractors do the repairs, and that’s going to be pretty significant.

“They’re going to have to cut back into it and replace all the ducting and we’re just waiting on BC Hydro to mobilize their crews.”

In a follow-up question after Csima’s report, chief administrative officer Nikki Gilmore said the Village is still working to determine who will pay for the remaining 20 per cent.

As well, Csima reported that, working with the Pemberton Valley Dyking District and Lil’wat Nation, the department completed One Mile Lake Fish Habitat Restoration Project.

Csima noted that beaver activity at the lake’s inlet caused lack of flow and higher temperatures, while invasive goldfish were discovered in the lake.

Ultimately, the solution to both problems was to ensure colder water could enter the lake. Crews excavated the channel with no impact on the fish habitat in August and saw results quickly.

“Visibly, you could see that the lake was changing colour to a more opaque, blue, glacial-filled type of colour,” Csima said, noting that the temperature reading dropped during the two weeks following the work’s completion.

Csima noted that the culvert feeding the inflow needs to be replaced, and the department will work with the federal Department of Fisheries to complete that project.

Meanwhile, manager of recreation services Christine Burns saw better-than-expected uptake, running 55 of 70 classes offered for 397 participants compared to running 88 of 97 offered for 698 participants during the same period last year.

“We’re still super pleased with the response from the community with how they’ve come back into the facility,” she said.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the 70 per cent number for the third quarter,” Mayor Mike Richman said. “I really didn’t expect that.”

As for the Pemberton Fire Rescue Department, Fire Chief Robert Grossman said while the number of incidences was down from the same period in 2019, that’s been due to responding to medical calls only when it’s a life-threatening situation.

The 104 incidences were a decrease of 25 overall, though medical calls were down 55 from 2019, meaning other calls were up by a total of 30.

Fire-related calls were up 30 per cent, alarms rose 14 per cent and vehicle collisions increased slightly. 

Grossman said the membership is currently at himself, deputy chief Cameron Adams and 30 volunteers.

During its fall recruitment, he added, the department interviewed 15 applicants, who also completed their physical assessments.

Lastly, manager of development services Lisa Pedrini reported that the department issued 25 building permits with a construction value of over $8.6 million, and collected a fee value of over $69,000.

The department also collected development cost charges of more than $76,000.