Mayor Jordan Sturdy cautioned that it’s “premature” to pass judgement on the community power project the Village of Pemberton is pursuing, as a concrete plan is far from being established.
Sturdy responded to early criticisms of the project during Tuesday’s (Nov. 22) council meeting, at which multiple area residents voiced their opposition to the idea during question period.
Earlier this month, council directed village staff to develop a Request For Expression of Interest (RFEI) to establish a community power project on Pemberton Creek, which has been a long-term goal on the radar of Pemberton lawmakers for several years. Council chose to take that route after recent news that the village’s submission to Public-Private Partnerships Canada was not invited to continue on to the next round of consideration.
The RFEI is expected back at the council table in December. Given that the RFEI has yet to be developed, much less issued, Sturdy said it’s still very early in the project’s process when asked if council intended to seek community feedback.
“We don’t really have a proposed project in place at this particular time,” said Sturdy.
“We don’t have a specific project in mind. We’re asking for expressions of interest … and once we receive those, we’ll consider the possibilities and make some decisions from there going forward.”
Sturdy noted that one of those possibilities is not developing at all on the creek, for which the village owns the water licence. A 2007 feasibility study ordered by the village suggested that a 15-megawatt, run-of-river hydro facility could work on Pemberton Creek, but Sturdy said Tuesday that “there’s no suggestion that will be the project.”
Sturdy also noted that the village did not acquire the water licence for Pemberton Creek to effectively block future development there — as was suggested in a letter to local newspapers last week — saying he believes it is against provincial regulations to do so.
Louise Taylor, a local resident who questioned council about the project Tuesday, also penned a letter that appeared in meeting documents. In the letter, she suggested that council consider the negative feedback that other power projects have been faced with in the Pemberton Valley before pursuing one of its own.
“Given the ongoing opposition to IPPs (independent power projects) and the lack of any benefits, it would seem timely to update the village’s strategic plan to better reflect the desires of Pemberton residents (and not IPPs) and that no more action be taken on this so-called ‘community’ power project,” she wrote.
Following the meeting, Taylor said she and others who appeared at Tuesday’s meeting to protest the project intend to hold an information session for community members that would touch on the project, as well as the Upper Lillooet proposal from Innergex that is nearing provincial approval.
The mayor and council members also said that community consultation will take place in the event that any RFEI response is pursued.
“The values associated with Pemberton Creek in its natural state would absolutely be considered in any decision on any proposal,” said Sturdy.
Mount Currie trail now open
The first two kilometres of the Mount Currie hiking trail are now open for public use, Coun. Ted Craddock said Tuesday, reporting to council from the latest Pemberton Valley Trails Association (PVTA) meeting.
“Apparently, it is in good shape,” said Craddock. “There are some steep sections that they’re working on … but you’re welcome to give the trail a try.”
PVTA officials said in September they were hopeful to open the first two km of the route, representing about one-quarter of the finished trail, before winter, with a goal to finish it by summer. The trailhead is located near the Green River Motocross Park south of Pemberton.