Village of Pemberton seeks Whistler Blackcomb lift tickets to increase civic engagement 

Pemberton council Briefs: Seniors' housing

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOEL BARDE - Lift tickets anyone? The Village of Pemberton is hoping to secure Whistler Blackcomb lift tickets. The tickets would be used to encourage public 					participation in the political process.
  • photo by Joel Barde
  • Lift tickets anyone? The Village of Pemberton is hoping to secure Whistler Blackcomb lift tickets. The tickets would be used to encourage public participation in the political process.

The Village of Pemberton (VOP) wants to gin up more interest in municipal affairs by offering prizes at meetings and events.

At a special council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 30, staff sought council's support for its application to the Vail Resorts Epic Promises In-Kind Product Grant.

According to a staff report, the Village has been piloting alternative means of engaging the public, such as revamping public notices and having an ongoing presence at the Pemberton Farmers' Market.

The goal is to "increase participation with the aim of assisting Council with informed decision making," reads the report.

The Village's requests include a five-day Whistler Mountain Bike Park pass for an upcoming town hall meeting, two two-day winter lift tickets for a "pop up" municipal hall at an upcoming farmers' market, and a Peak 2 Peak 360 ticket for a Nukw7antwal community gathering.

According to a spokesperson for the Village, staff has not determined how the prizes would be distributed, but it "would likely be through a draw, contest and/or skill-testing question."

VOP Councillor Ted Craddock was the sole councillor to question the initiative, saying that the Village wouldn't accept gifts from an insurance company.

"I'm wondering does this fall into the same kind of category, where we are basically supporting and advertising for a company?"

VOP chief administrative officer Nikki Gilmore said she does not see the initiative as being problematic.

"I would suggest it's slightly different because we're in an open setting making application for a grant to get those incentives," said Gilmore. "We have been open and clear on how we acquired it and (for) what purposes."

She said that Lil'wat Nation buys iPads to use as an incentive for people to come to meetings.

"It proves to be quite successful ... We've heard that comment a couple times, as we've gone through our intergovernmental relations committees."

In the end, council was unanimous in supporting the motion.

VOP Mayor Mike Richman said that the lift pass idea is worth a try, as similar programs have proven effective in other communities.

He said that the Village is getting creative with its efforts at engagement, such as having information sessions at the farmers market. "We want to do things like engage high school students and other areas of the community," he added.

Richman said he was a bit disappointed with voter turn out in the election, as only around 30 per cent of eligible voters cast votes.

"We have a very engaged and vocal community, and this is one big opportunity to influence some of what happens at muni hall—and I would have liked to see more people do that," said Richman.

Seniors' housing

Council also gave staff the OK to apply for funding that would be put towards getting the ball rolling on more affordable housing for seniors.

The Village is applying for funding of up to $25,000 from a fund that is administered by the Union of BC Municipalities.

The money would be used to update a housing needs assessment from 2009 and develop an action plan to create more seniors' housing.

According to a VOP report, the Pemberton Lions Society, which already operates some affordable housing units for seniors in Pemberton, has expressed interest in adding to their offerings.

Richman said that the Village is productively working with the Lions, who have another piece of land that could be used to build additional affordable housing units.

"There is another piece of land available there that we want to bring to the table with the Lions to see if we can partner up to bring more social housing," said Richman, adding that he is excited about the opportunity.

According to Richman, there is discussion of adding a whole new building.

"That's what we'd like to see. We're in the early stages, and myself and staff are working with the Lions Club to see how we can partner up and see if we can put something together and approach the province and BC Housing and get their support and move ahead."

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