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Pemberton among best places to do business in Western Canada, says magazine

Alberta Venture names the community among the 25 best in the west

Pemberton has been named among the best places to do business in western Canada and the president of its chamber of commerce is ecstatic.

Alberta Venture, an Edmonton-based publication that focuses centrally on business in British Columbia's neighbouring province, has pegged 25 communities as the best places for business in Canada's western provinces and Pemberton stands among them.

Mark Blundell, president of the Pemberton and District Chamber of Commerce, was notified of the recognition on Tuesday and he was very happy to hear it.

"It doesn't surprise me that someone has realized that from the outside world," he said. "Because what they're saying is true, isn't it? We are unique in that we are a cheaper place to be when it comes to setting up a business, we have a unique climate, we have a unique agricultural system and we were very successful with our festival, so that kind of put us on the map, too."

The community north of Whistler, famous for its seed potatoes and recreational offerings, was singled out for having many of the same benefits as Whistler, but at a lower price.

"Pemberton is blessed with the same natural assets as Whistler, including the mountain peaks, the hills and trails that are perfect for both winter and summer activities, the old-growth trees and the pristine lakes," the article states. "The best part is that it all comes at a fraction of the cost. Serviced land is just $150,000 per acre, and lease rates average out at $15 per square foot."

The magazine went on to say that Pemberton is "not just a faint echo of Whistler." The community, the article said, has its "own unique set of tourism attractions" that play up the area's geography and microclimate, as well as attractants such as the Pemberton Distillery in the industrial park, which uses potatoes to make vodka.

Other facets noted in the article included U-Pick farms, such as McEwan's Farm in the Pemberton Meadows, as well as other agri-tourism activities that are making the community a "foodie-friendly destination."

The article comes as the community has raised concerns about the state of the economy in Pemberton. The concerns reached a peak in early April, when community members packed council chambers over the Village's decision to deny first and second reading to an amendment bylaw that would have allowed Cedar View Estate, a bed and breakfast, to operate as a commercial venue and host weddings.

The Cedar View Estate owners, and others, questioned whether the Village was doing enough to stimulate business in Pemberton.

Asked whether he was surprised to see this recognition given community concerns about the economy, Blundell said this year's economy is up against "one of the best years we've ever had."

"I know that some people think the economy's not that great," he said. "But at the same time, I don't think it's that bad. You know, we can't compare 2010 to today, you know, we had a huge amount of construction on the highway, we had a lot of First Nations that were working and it was all to do with the Olympics.

"We are a good destination, we are a good place to do business, and again, I'm ecstatic that somebody has actually identified that."