Pemberton OCP aims to preserve 'small town character' 

Pemberton's updated Official Community Plan looks to preserve the village's "small town character."

So says the 192-page document, which sets out a vision for the community to guide its development through at least the next five years. Caroline Lamont, Pemberton's director of planning services, presented it at the Dec. 14 council meeting. It was so big it could not be attached to the meeting agenda package.

The results of a Speak Out Pemberton consultation program were finalized in early March and the village took those results to its town hall meeting in June. Additional comments were gathered at the town meeting and the OCP started going through staff and council review in the fall.

Lamont said she felt "terrific" that she was able to compile the report before Christmas but was anxious to have the community and stakeholders review it to see if it's appropriate for their needs.

In a report to council Lamont said that once councillors gave it first reading, it must then be referred to "designated and affected agencies." That includes the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, which borders the Pemberton boundaries, as well as the Lil'wat Nation, as both the district and the village fall within the First Nation's traditional territory.

In section 5.2, the plan states that a "common theme" from public consultation was to "retain Pemberton's small town character." The plan, taking into account the theme's application to planning of buildings, structures and site designs, defines "small town character" as:

"Our small town is a welcoming, engaged and unique community which is supported by great people and friendly places. Pemberton honours and respects its past, rural character, residents' creativity and diversity as well as its magnificent natural landscapes."

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said in an interview the village is limited in its ability to grow by factors such as agricultural land, mountainous terrain and parkland.

"Pemberton has a de facto development cap on it," he said. "There are many limitations to growth, much to do with topography, be it big mountains, slopes in excess of what's reasonable to build on, wildlife habitat, agricultural land, flood plains.

"We will never be a big city or a big town, it's always going to have a small town character to it, based on the fact it'll never have a population you'd describe as anything more than small town."

Part of preserving that "small town character" involves supporting architectural styles and streetscape design that "complement the town's pedestrian scale"; ensuring development respects the town's "variable climate"; embracing green building best practices; and offering an "interesting, convenient and pedestrian-friendly downtown."

A key component of the Official Community Plan is Pemberton's commitment to reduce its greenhouse gases 33 per cent by 2012, something it can only do within its own operations. It is thus directing development in a way that meets those targets.

Among other things, Pemberton is targeting 85 per cent of all residences to be within 1,000 metres of the downtown core; to increase commuting trails within the village boundaries by 20 per cent; ensuring a net gain of open spaces and trails; and increasing transit ridership by 20 per cent.

One measure mentioned in the OCP is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). The details on how this works are still being assembled but the plan states that proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a "reduction in the fear and incidence of crime, and an improvement in the quality of life."

This measure inevitably comes in response to concerns about vandalism in Pemberton. The village saw a rash of incidents in the summer of 2009 as Pemberton Taxi had six tires slashed on one of its buses while another bus had four tires slashed. This was two weeks after two buses were set on fire.

The village tried to implement a Citizens on Patrol program to help curb vandalism but it didn't get enough uptake from residents to make it worthwhile.




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