Pemberton taking another look at agricultural subdivision 

Prospect Street property owner faces constant flooding

Pemberton council is once again considering a subdivision of an agricultural property located at 7476 Prospect Street that's constantly hit by flooding in heavy rains.

The property, owned by Adventures on Horseback operator Bob Menzel and his wife Susan Perry, lies between the Benchlands neighbourhood, which is located atop a hill, and a dyke that supports a railway line owned by CN Rail.

In the middle is Menzel's approximately 30-acre ranch property, which sees water pool up inside it whenever a heavy storm event brings rain to the valley, literally flowing right into it from two sides.

Menzel, who spoke before Pemberton council on Tuesday night, wants the property taken out of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), provincially-mandated area where farming is a priority use, because the land is often too flooded for him to do anything with it.

In the past the flooding has been so bad that his horses, normally used in trail rides, have actually drowned in the muck.

"The stormwater drainage, it's not just our problem, it's a community problem," he said. "We're the recipients of the problem."

Menzel previously approached the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), which regulates ALR land, with the possibility of subdividing his property into nine one-acre lots.

The commission rejected that application after members of its South Coast panel took a single first-hand look at the property and decided later that day to deny the subdivision, saying his proposal would "reduce the agricultural potential of the property to an unacceptable level."

The commission did, however, say it would consider an application proposing an alternative subdivision that includes a "comprehensive drainage plan" and that enhances agriculture to the "north of the urban area of Pemberton."

Commissioners believe that improved drainage could improve the land's agricultural capability to Class 2, one of its highest ratings.

Menzel has until June 1 to submit another proposal and he's concerned that the commission won't approve his application because he can't afford a stormwater drainage plan on his own.

"I just wish I had the money myself," he said.

Councillor Ted Craddock noted that Village representatives have a meeting with the Agricultural Land Commission on Monday and that they ought to look into getting this issue on the agenda.


Village could go before human rights tribunal next month

The Village of Pemberton continues to be engaged in a legal battle with a former councilor who believes he was discriminated against when he was allegedly passed over for a promotion at the fire hall.

David MacKenzie, a former councilor, mayoral candidate and volunteer firefighter, may be about to see his second human rights complaint against the Village go to a hearing before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

This complaint, filed June 9, 2009, says that the Village discriminated against him because of his sexual orientation when Fire Chief Russell Mack spoke to Pique in a November 2008 story that allegedly "maligned his character." That story concerned a previous complaint that MacKenzie filed, alleging that he was passed over for a promotion because he's gay.

Administrator Daniel Sailland told Pique before the council meeting that a hearing is scheduled before the tribunal in April but there's a possibility it could be postponed to August.

Pique is not named as a respondent in the complaint.



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