Letter to the editor 

What’s the hurry?

I would like to express my concerns regarding the Village of Pemberton's desire to extend its boundaries.

It is my understanding that this boundary expansion is primarily in response to a request from a handful of developers, with the Ravens Crest development as the driving force.

The growth of Pemberton's boundaries should not be considered without the input of unbiased and impartial professional planners, preferably on staff. Stantec and John Stiel have been retained by the Hillside Development group (Raven's Crest Developments) to develop a Neighbourhood Concept Plan for Raven's Crest, at the same time as they've been retained by the Village of Pemberton to move the boundary expansion ahead. This casts an interesting light on the recommendations that were put forth in the Sub-Regional Land Use Planning Study, specifically, that the village expand its boundaries to include the Hillside Development lands, given that that document was also authored by John Stiel of Stantec.

The premise that the town of Pemberton will grow to 11,700 inhabitants in 2026, based on recent historic growth rates of 5.4 per cent, is flawed. During those years, Pemberton experienced unprecedented growth — growth that was so unusual it made national headlines, as the fastest growing town in the province, for three consecutive census results. This also occurred at a time when there was very little progress in creating employee-restricted housing in Whistler, and when gas and money were cheap.

This projection in the Sub-Regional Plan that the Hillside Developers are relying on is, at best, a stab in the dark. And it hasn't taken into consideration the impacts on the housing market of 1,000 new employee-restricted housing units between now and 2011 in Whistler, an economic downturn, or the softening effects of rising interest rates.

The town of Pemberton has an Official Community Plan, and the Benchlands Neighbourhood Concept Plan was adopted by council as part of the OCP last year. The Benchlands is a master-planned community that when built-out, will accommodate up to 500 new homes, a school and parks. This almost doubles the current village population. All within walking distance of the town centre. The pace of development in that area to this point has been very slow, in fact the real estate market could be generally characterized as slow to stagnant.

There are currently over 150 real estate listings in the Pemberton area, varying from vacant lots to multi-million dollar estates. There are currently three large live/work projects under construction and taking pre-completion sales.

The village has already said that it plans to pursue a comprehensive boundary restructure in the future. If that is the case, then why rush forward with this specific extension? Why not just do it once, and do it right? Why not wait until the village actually has a staff planner, with some expertise in this matter, and no conflicts. After all, if we can afford an economic development consultant, to drive development in the area, surely Pemberton can afford a staff planner to manage and plan it.

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