Village of Pemberton to support archeological survey 

Council briefs: bylaw interpretation; pedestrian safety

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOEL BARDE - Thinning project VOP council discussed procedure at its April 16 meeting.
  • photo by Joel Barde
  • Thinning project VOP council discussed procedure at its April 16 meeting.

Village of Pemberton (VOP) council instructed staff during its April 16 regular council meeting to move forward with a plan to commission an archeological study in an area slated for forest thinning.

The area, which is being thinned as a wildfire mitigation measure, is on the hillside north of Pemberton.

"We want to make sure that we work with Lil'wat (Nation) to ensure that if there are any historical sites, they get preserved," explained VOP Mayor Mike Richman, following meeting.

A number of ishkins (underground living structures, traditionally used to survive winter months) have been found in the Pemberton area, noted Richman.

The VOP is looking for an additional $9,000 to cover the cost of the study, which was recently suggested by the contractor that will be carrying out the thinning project.

Council therefore instructed staff to look into the budget for places where the money can be drawn from.

During discussions, Councillor Ted Craddock suggested using money allocated towards an economic development strategy to pay for it, saying that Tourism Pemberton is currently undertaking two similar studies and the fuel-thinning project is of vital importance.

Coun. Ryan Zant asked what the discovery of an ancestral site would mean to the overall thinning project, wondering if it could derail it.

There would likely be a way to safeguard the ancestral site in question, and carry on with the thinning project if that were the case, said Nikki Gilmore, chief administrative officer of the VOP.

The archeological study is slated to be undertaken by the Lil'wat Nation.

Coun. Amica Antonelli suggested that another company should be contacted to get a comparison on cost; she put forward a motion to "explore the costs of the survey" that was defeated.

Gilmore said that going with another company for the study was inadvisable.

"We did go to the contractor and say, 'Is it typical that we go to Lil'wat to undertake this?'" she said. "He said it would be ... His recommendation (was) that we go with Lil'wat."

Bylaw interpretation

VOP council also adopted new wording in its procedural bylaw, which governs how council comes to decisions.

The move comes after Antonelli questioned staff's interpretation of a section that governs who can call an item back for reconsideration after it has been voted on.

During a Feb. 19 regular council meeting, Antonelli contended that someone who votes in opposition to a majority vote has the right to call it back; the staff position is that only those councillors who vote with the majority can request to bring an item back.

A decision was made to seek further legal opinion on the matter at the time.

During the April 16 meeting, Gilmore relayed that the legal opinion supported staff's interpretation of the bylaw, while also recommending some clarifications to the wording.

Antonelli again questioned the interpretation, saying that it is important for all councillors to have the ability to bring an item back for reconsideration.

If the VOP wants the "highest and best" engagement it needs to empower all councilors with the right to bring items back, she said.

"If we change this, it means that members of the public will have to track down a council member, or the mayor, who is not in agreement with their view and try to convince them to take (the item) back to council," she said.

Coun. Ted Craddock supported the staff interpretation, saying that it is in line with other municipalities.

"If I came back to the council table on every single issue that people approach me (about), we'd be here for a lot of days and months going over and over things," he said.

Pedestrian safety

VOP council also received a letter from MLA Jordan Sturdy calling on the province to enact measures to improve pedestrian safety in the Pemberton area.

The letter, which was addressed to the Ministry of Transportation, calls on the province to install a "pedestrian-activated flashing amber light at the crosswalk on Portage Road in front of Signal Hill Elementary School," as well as a "pedestrian-activated flashing amber caution light" crossing Highway 99, adjacent to the Creekside Village neighbourhood.

In his comments to Pique, Richman said council would be meeting directly with Sturdy to discuss the letter and pedestrian safety.

"There are certainly safety concerns crossing Highway 99, going towards One Mile Lake, especially as the community builds out, and that's certainly something we want to address," said Richman.

Richman said that the VOP has "a couple thoughts" on safety concerns and will discuss it further before setting its top priorities.

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