Pemberton mayor recuses himself from $5 million downtown project discussions 

Council Briefs: Soda-ash water treatment works wonders; quarterly updates

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - stepping away VOP Mayor Mike Richman is stepping aside from discussions around the landmark $5 million downtown enhancement project
  • photo submitted
  • stepping away VOP Mayor Mike Richman is stepping aside from discussions around the landmark $5 million downtown enhancement project

Mayor Mike Richman will no longer be taking part in discussions surrounding the downtown enhancement project, after declaring a conflict interest.

The move came after Pique ran a letter from former Mile One Eating House owner Randy Jones questioning Richman's involvement in the $5.3 million project, which will see major investment in Pemberton's downtown core and infrastructure.

In his letter, Jones drew a connection between parking and allowable seats in a restaurant. According to the letter, Richman's recent acquisition of the Centennial Café (along with other partners) puts him in a "significant conflict of interest," as the restaurant lies in downtown Pemberton.

"Basically X number of parking spots equals X number of dining seats. In the restaurant business dining seats equal revenue opportunity," wrote Jones.

In an interview, Richman said that while he doesn't believe that he's in a conflict of interest, he is stepping aside to avoid any appearance of it, a difficult choice given the project's importance to the community.

Parking, he said, is only one small component of the overall project, which will see significant investment in infrastructure, storm water management, sidewalk upgrades, and traffic flow.

"I don't want to be a distraction here," said Richman. "The grant is such a great opportunity for the community, for us to be able to do this work downtown ... It's such an important project."

The project and several proposed designs were discussed at the regular council meeting April 24 after Richman recused himself, with the loss of overall parking in the downtown area being a major topic of discussion.

In the end, council selected one of several designs the project's architect presented, but asked that a bus stop be moved from North of the Blackbird Bakery to Aster Street, adjacent to Pioneer Park, to avoid congestion.

The Village will be hosting an Information Session on Tuesday, June 19 at the Pemberton & District Community Centre (4:30 to 7 p.m.) where the public can see the plan, and VOP will also be meeting with downtown businesses and stakeholders.

Water treatment

Jeff Westlake, superintendent of public works, updated council on the VOP's water situation at Tuesday's regular meeting.

In 2016, The Village of Pemberton (VOP) council voted to approve a soda-ash conditioning treatment after it was discovered that the low pH of Pemberton's water was interacting with pipes into some homes and causing up to 10 times the acceptable limit of lead.

The issue was discovered when public works undertook a water-sampling program to determine ways to mitigate the corrosion of metallic plumbing systems and fixtures.

"It took a fair while to identify what kind of treatment would work best, but at the end of the day we settled on soda ash," said Westlake. "It was unfortunate that it unfolded the way it did. But at the end of the day it was something we would have had to do regardless of our situation."

The project, located at Pioneer Park, has been complete since June 2017, and the results have been good, said Westlake, who discussed efforts to determine the correct soda ash to water formula.

In February, nine residential locations, all of which were tested in 2016, were selected for sampling. In 2016, 55 per cent of the samples collected tested above the "Maximum Acceptable Concentration" for lead—while in 2018 zero of them did, explained a report that was given to council.

Noting that the VOP is one of the first municipalities in B.C. to implement such a system, Mayor Richman congratulated Westlake on a job well done.

"We're kind of at the forefront of this," said Richman. "There's not a lot of communities to draw on ... I just want to point out I think you guys have done a great job."

Despite upgrades, the VOP and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority continue to encourage residents to always flush their lines until water runs cold.

Westlake's full report can be found online at https://www.pemberton.ca/public/download/documents/49271.

Quarterly updates

The Village of Pemberton's Operations and Development Services, and the fire department, briefed council on what they've been up to in the first quarter of 2018.

Senior VOP planner Lisa Pedrini discussed the activities of development services, a busy department in recent years.

Between January and March 2018, 20 building permits were issued, including three "single family dwelling" permits and 10 for additions or renovations.

In total, $2,170,551 worth of construction was facilitated, bringing in $24,823 worth of permit fees for the VOP.

Development permits were approved for three significant development projects, including a 45-unit multi-family apartment building at 7350 Crabapple Court and a townhouse project on Portage Road.

In addition, Sunstone have submitted a development application for a 54-unit townhouse project, and an additional 60-lot subdivision.

Pedrini also outlined long-range projects, which include a comprehensive zoning and bylaw review and update that will clean up the language around bylaws and include rules and regulations for short-term rentals.

"We're fully engaged in getting stakeholder and public feedback at this point and time," she said.

"I met with the Airport User Group (April 23), (April 25) I'm meeting with the Chamber of Commerce in the morning, and on Thursday (April 26) with the Advisory Land Use Commission."

Tim Harris, manger of Operations and Development Services, briefed council on a number of major capital projects for 2018, including the Friendship Trail Bridge project and a proposed soccer field located off Pemberton Farm Road East on a 20-acre parcel of land dedicated to recreational purposes.

Bids for the project have been submitted and are currently under review.

Harris also informed council that a faulty water main on Pioneer Street has been replaced. The work was awarded to a local contractor, he noted.

"It's nice to get that completely replaced ... I am sure (VOP staff) are glad they won't have to go back there," he said.

This story has been corrected from the original print version.

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