Pemberton mayor asks residents to think about community identity 

Village may arrange public forum to discuss the future of Pemberton

Pemberton is changing.

Slowly, but surely, the Village is growing bigger after the province approved a boundary expansion, a nearly five-year process that will see it expand on to 20 new parcels of land, which are currently governed by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD).

And as Pemberton's mayor tells it, that may not be the last time that governing boundaries change in the Valley, a place where overlapping and clashing governance can be a source of frustration for people living there.

It's with the expectation that boundaries could change again that Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy is imploring people to think hard about what kind of community they want to see in future. He said in an interview that it's possible the Village will arrange a public forum for people to discuss what the future Pemberton will look like.

"Currently throughout the regional district, the number one priority for the regional board has been boundaries in the SLRD," he said in an interview. "As a regional district we spend an inordinate amount of time talking about Pemberton issues, because a board is obligated to make financial decisions which are under the purview of the regional district.

"I think for the people who live in Pemberton, the fact that the regional board makes decisions about what happens in Pemberton at a recreational level, or at an economic activity level, is also a regional board issue."

Asking a Pembertonian where they live can often be a complicated question. They might live in the Meadows. They might live in the Village. They might own a home in Owl Ridge, Mosquito Lake or Birken. They're all likely to tell you they live in Pemberton but that's just not the case on paper.

If you live anywhere in Pemberton but the Village, you're paying property taxes through to the provincial government and any land use decisions, whether a rezoning or a new bylaw, have to pass by a regional board made up of representatives from communities such as Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish, Lillooet and four unincorporated areas.

Susie Gimse, a councillor with the Village of Pemberton and director for the unincorporated Area C on the SLRD board, articulated in an email the difficulty of living in a jurisdiction adjacent to an unincorporated one.

"In terms of Pemberton's identity, you ask anyone on either side of the boundary where they live and they will respond with Pemberton," she wrote. "We already identify as a single community, yet most are frustrated by the fact that we are governed by two separate jurisdictions with different legislation and operating procedures."

Such an arrangement can make things difficult where economic development in the unincorporated areas is concerned.

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