Pemberton boundary expansion moving forward 

Village of Pemberton council passed a motion at its Dec. 2 meeting that moves forward the process of expanding its boundaries.

The motion called on council to direct planning firm Stantec to make a proposal to B.C.’s Ministry of Community Development that they hope will expand the village’s boundaries into 20 new areas, including the Hillside area, properties along Airport Road and the Rutherford Creek Power Plant.

The motion passed with a single predictable dissenter — councilor and Area C director Susie Gimse. She has repeatedly called the current proposal a “piecemeal” expansion and wants to see the village incorporate many more properties out of Area C, which lies in the jurisdiction of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

Gimse could not be reached for further comment.

John Steil, a principal with Stantec, the planning firm that’s been overseeing Pemberton’s boundary expansion, said he couriered an application for expansion to the ministry last Friday and he expects that the ministry received it Monday.

The contents of the application were a report to council that expressed the desire to expand the village boundaries, as well as a Stantec report that identified the areas it intends to expand upon.

At this point, the ministry will review the application and come back to the village if it has any questions. If there are no questions the application can be forwarded to the provincial cabinet for consideration.

Cabinet has to pass an order-in-council in order to approve the expansion — and according to Steil, that could take until next fall, taking into account a provincial election in May.

“This had strong community support in the referendum, so I am optimistic they’ll deal with it in an expeditious way,” Steil said. Village of Pemberton voters voted 611-145 in favour of the expansion during last month’s civic election.

“It’s not terribly complicated from a boundary perspective, so I’m hoping it will not present them some difficulty.”

If approved, the expansion could bring an estimated $180,000 in tax revenue to village coffers — $135,000 of that would come from property taxes on the Rutherford Creek Power Plant alone.

Most village councillors approve the current proposal as the first step in a greater expansion that would include many more properties out of Area C. Gimse, however, wants the village to look at incorporating Area C right now.

Despite months of talks, the Lil’wat Nation has still not offered an official position on the boundary expansion, but Steil said the provincial government could take care of that while reviewing the application.

“Really we’re waiting for a response,” he said. “In some senses it’s not really so much the village’s issue to deal with but more from the provincial perspective. We identified the issues they raised, hopefully they’ll get back to us very soon.”

Village council’s most recent meeting also saw councillors appointed to committees. Councillor Al LeBlanc will serve on the Public Works/Parks Committee and the Advisory Land Use Committee (ALUC); Councillor Ted Craddock will serve on the Finance Committee and the Pemberton District Library Board; Councillor Lisa Ames will serve as a liaison to the Pemberton Valley Dyking District and to the Signal Hill Elementary Parents’ Advisory Council.

Mayor Jordan Sturdy will serve on the following boards: the SLRD board; Pemberton Valley Utilities and Services (PVUS); Pemberton Regional Airport Authority; Pemberton Lillooet Treaty Advisory; and the SLRD’s Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC).

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