Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy updated his council on the status of the Gates Lake recreation facility during Tuesday’s (Sept. 4) meeting and refuted comments from the Area C director that the village is trying to “derail” the project.
It was council’s first sitting since the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) board voted last week to halt all progress on the Birken facility. After that board meeting on Aug. 27, Area C director and board chair Susie Gimse told The Question she thought the village was “looking for opportunities to derail it,” as the recreation service partners continue to disagree on how the project should move forward.
Sturdy said it was unfortunate that the August meeting of the Pemberton Valley Utilities and Services Committee (PVUS) was cancelled, meaning much of the discussion about the Gates Lake project was hashed out at the board table last week. The mayor said the facility will once again be a topic at the next PVUS meeting, which has been rescheduled to Sept. 14.
“That’s where we’ll be discussing next steps, and contrary to allegations in the paper, we haven’t been trying to derail this thing,” said Sturdy.
Report coming on water-less properties
In response to a letter from a local resident who said she’s paying taxes on water and sewer service she has no access to, council directed staff to bring back a report on how to deal with the issue.
Mary Van De Wetering wrote council to say she paid almost $750 in water and sewer frontage fees despite the fact that the service does not extend to her property near the industrial park. She added that she’s been told it will cost $30,000 to hook up to the service.
“I don’t believe that we should pay for services that we have no access to,” wrote Van De Wetering. “I would like to be either refunded for those water and sewer taxes I have paid, or that you bring the water and sewer hook-ups across the road to our lot so we can have access to it.”
Manager of administrative services Sheena Fraser said she believed there were other properties “in various spots around the village” that were in a similar circumstance, and that a staff report on the issue would address how to deal with those lands “as a package.”
New approach to community projects
Council approved a new Community Partnership Policy that will hopefully streamline joint projects between community groups and the village in the future.
The policy targets “groups and volunteers that are wishing to improve or develop new community facilities and/or amenities within the Village of Pemberton.” It will cover instances of initiatives in which community groups are looking for municipal assistance on things like land use, capital costs, tax exemptions and many other types of requests.
Those looking to partner with the village on a project will be encouraged to fill out a short application form early in their planning process, allowing council and staff “the opportunity to comprehensively review projects for consideration in order to better identify how the village can partner or support community projects, as well as identify probable timelines,” reads the policy.
Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Sailland said by identifying projects and their needs as far in advance as possible, the village will be better able to keep up to speed on community initiatives and “mold a partnership that is more likely to have success.”
“This hopefully streamlines that process and makes it clear that there is a policy there to use,” said Sailland.
Sturdy agreed, saying that many community initiatives that the village has looked to partner with in the past have been “more challenging than they needed to be because that clear path to success wasn’t identified up front.”