Pemberton council critiques BC Parks engagement process 

Council briefs: Zoning bylaw amendments; first-quarter reports

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOEL BARDE - Quarterly updates Representatives from key Village of Pemberton departments updated council on what happened in the first quarter of the year, including Pemberton Fire Chief Robert Grossman (pictured here).
  • photo by Joel Barde
  • Quarterly updates Representatives from key Village of Pemberton departments updated council on what happened in the first quarter of the year, including Pemberton Fire Chief Robert Grossman (pictured here).

Village of Pemberton (VOP) council criticized BC Parks engagement process for its much-awaited Joffre Lakes Provincial Park visitor management strategy during its May 7 regular council meeting.

Jill Brooksbank, senior communications and grants coordinator, and Lisa Pedrini, manager for development services, updated council on an April 23 community-engagement session, organized by BC Parks, which they attended.

"One of the questions that staff had (for BC Parks) was if we would be able to see the draft management plan before it gets finalized, and there was an indication that we would not be seeing it before it is finalized and shared with the public," said Brooksbank.

There was, she added, "not really an indication on whether (BC Parks) would be sharing the results" of a recently closed public survey on management strategies, either, she added.

BC Parks is considering a wide range of initiatives to manage the crowds at Joffre, including establishing day-use fees, a shuttle system, limiting the numbers of visitors allowed in the park, and ramping up enforcement of illegal parking.

BC Parks has so far provided council with a two-page document that outlines its "draft goals" and various "actions for 2019 and beyond" and is reportedly on stage three of a five-step process.

Councillor Ted Craddock raised concerns about any plan that would call for the enforcement of highway parking restrictions through the towing of vehicles.

Wheel locks—which could be unfastened once a fine is paid—may be a better option, said Craddock.

"We don't have a taxi service, (and) it's a hell of a long walk into town," he said. "What we don't need is a couple hundred people walking down the highway in the evening."

Richman expressed frustration with BC Parks, saying he had expected council would have a chance to comment on a management plan rather than a "high-level" document.

"We (were) relying on (BC Parks) for a comprehensive management plan that we can then comment on," said Richman. "We got a list of eight bullet (points) here that is basically everything that has already been talked about ... It just seems like there is no meat behind it."

Bylaw amendments

During the meeting, council also passed a number of amendments to its comprehensive zoning bylaw, which was passed last summer.

Staff describes the changes as "minor" and "housekeeping in nature." They involve adding sections that were inadvertently not carried over from the previous zoning bylaw, making corrections, and improving the clarity of certain regulations.

A public hearing was held at 5 p.m. (prior to council's 5:30 p.m. start), but no one attended.

Coun. Amica Antonelli suggested that staff's use of the term "housekeeping" to describe the changes may have deterred engagement.

"I don't think a lot of people will look beyond that title and really dig into issues that might affect them," said Antonelli. "I think that the public might benefit from more explanation."

Antonelli was the lone councillor not in support of the amendments. Coun. Leah Noble was absent for the meeting.

First-quarter reports

Council also received first-quarter reports from key VOP departments at its May 7 meeting.

During her presentation, Pedrini, manager for development services, explained that the VOP received seven building permits in the first quarter (Jan. 1 to March 31), totalling $2,962,230 in construction and $26,431 in permit fees.

Pemberton Fire Chief Robert Grossman explained that Pemberton Fire Rescue saw a 20-per-cent rise in calls in the quarter compared to 2018 numbers.

And David Ward, assistant manager of operations and projects, said the operations department has hired a new manager of operations and is now in the process of hiring a summer labourer position.

The crabapple tree removal project is nearly complete, and the downtown enhancement plan is already well underway, said Ward. "For the most part, I would say they are sticking to their schedule," said Ward of the extensive project.

He also updated council on the Friendship Trail Bridge. The pedestrian bridge, which crosses the Lillooet River, was closed this winter after a dispute with landowners on the north end of the bridge.

The design for the exit, explained Ward, will involve a cement lock block supported trail that swings underneath the bridge.

The lock blocks will be used to build a ramp that can be ridden over on bicycle.

"Having to keep (the exit) all on the Ministry of Transportation right of way has forced this design," said Richman, following the meeting.

The VOP has contacted a number of contractors seeking quotes to perform the work, which is anticipated to get underway soon.

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