Pemberton to review Regional Growth Strategy 

The Village of Pemberton will soon host a committee of the whole meeting to review the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS), a policy document being pushed by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD).

At a council meeting Tuesday night, Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy brought forth a motion to strike a committee of the whole meeting to discuss the RGS and get current councillors up to speed on the controversial strategy.

The RGS appeared to be moving along swiftly through the various municipalities and areas of the SLRD until the District of Squamish (DOS) opposed it at a November council meeting. Among various issues, councillors cited a lack of public consultation, a lack of clarity over procedure and concern over its amendment process.

The Mount Currie Band of the Lil'wat Nation has joined the DOS in its concern over the RGS. Chief Leonard Andrew posted a letter to the SLRD March 5 saying that the band "appreciates the spirit" of what the RGS aims to accomplish, but called it an "incomplete and thus inadequate solution."

Among other things, he said the RGS "fails to address" issues facing the Lil'wat Nation today and that it limits the potential use of land within its traditional territory, limits that will "not produce any future benefit to the Lil'wat."

The RGS is a lengthy document that aims to limit urban sprawl among the SLRD's member communities. Its central plan is to focus development into "compact, complete, sustainable" communities and provide opportunities to live, work and play within those communities.

Sturdy feels that catch-up is needed for Pemberton's current council.

"I'm not sure that they're familiar with the history and the conclusion and the future of the regional growth strategy," he said in an interview Tuesday.

"I thought that being as Squamish has expressed some concerns, that it was valuable to have council just generally become more familiar with RGS and form some basis of opinion with regard to Squamish's concerns."

Sturdy himself has some issues with the RGS, specifically, an amending formula that requires the approval of adjacent regional districts and unanimous board consent when considering major amendments.

"That is the problem," he said. "I think the province has recognized this is one of the significant problems of it. The province was going to bring forward legislation to change that.

"Unfortunately the province hasn't been able to bring forward those changes and obviously it's not going to take place right now."

As far as the Lil'wat Nation's concerns, Sturdy said the First Nation has been invited to the table through the consultation process on RGS.

"I think more specifically their concern falls around the area of the Soo River," he said.

SLRD Area C director and Pemberton councillor Susie Gimse, who asked that First Nations be included in the committee of the whole meeting, echoed the mayor's comments.

"From a local communities perspective, I certainly would like to sit down and better understand what the Lil'wat community concerns are with respect to the RGS," she said. "I know we had a fairly open process whereby we encouraged First Nation participation from the beginning. We did have participation from Mount Currie at those meetings."

The Village of Pemberton's Tuesday council meeting also carried the announcement that Pemberton's youth centre is officially open for business. It is situated in the old library, located next to the new Pemberton Community Centre.

Despite the opening of the community centre, the youth centre had not opened for months as Pemberton waits for a building inspection and installation of a fire system.

Now, however, the centre is open and Pemberton Youth are able to enjoy computers, games and a 60-inch television that Councillor Alan LeBlanc said will be ideal for watching hockey games.

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