Pemberton looks to new planning commission 

The Village of Pemberton is looking to remove its council from planning studies with the creation of an Advisory Planning Commission (APC).

VOP staffers are currently preparing a bylaw to create the APC, a body that will consider planning, policy and land use matters within the village. Currently such matters are dealt with by two committees: the Advisory Design Review Committee and the Advisory Land Use Committee. Members of council sit on both.

Under the new arrangement, councillors will not be able to sit as voting members on the APC, but they can attend meetings in a “resource capacity,” under B.C.’s Local Government Act.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said the village is looking to do this because council already gets to look at matters to do with planning, policy and land use, and because it would be better to have industry professionals looking into those areas.

“Council will already get to see these things and already get to submit and promote ideas or have opinions,” he said. “What we really want is the public’s opinion, as well as having professionals’ opinions.”

The Advisory Design Review Committee and the Advisory Land Use Committee aren’t being eliminated, per se. They’re simply being replaced with commissions so that the public can have more say in development within the village.

“If a council member who is, you know, experienced and articulate and forceful, they could influence the public committee,” Sturdy said. “In a way that maybe doesn’t serve, doesn’t get the best out of the committee.

“That same councillor can have those same positions, same points of view, they’re already going to have an opportunity to present those perspectives at the council table. Why should they be in the committee presenting those concerns or issues, and at the council table doing the same thing?”

The existing committees are an important step in developing land and buildings within Pemberton. Advisory Design Review looks at development permits and the actual design of a building, whereas Advisory Land Use looks at land use and rezoning matters.

There are numerous steps that a developer goes through in order to get a development permit in Pemberton.

First, the developer submits an application to Development Services. Then VOP staffers work with the developer to ensure all important information is in that application. Once all requirements are filed into the application, then staff sends it to council for information.

The permit can then be referred to the committees for comment, as well as a number of different agencies, if it’s appropriate.

In some instances the VOP can refer a development application to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District’s Agricultural Advisory Committee, which provides the regional board with comments and recommendations on agricultural matters.

The committees providing comment about developments currently have councillors on them. Under the new arrangement they won’t, but village council hopes those spaces can be filled with industry professionals.

Sturdy feels the commissions will have more autonomy than the committees. He expects that council will have names for the new commissions at its next meeting in January.

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