Pemberton council is willing to kick in a little contingency cash to make sure the downtown community barn project in the works can get off the ground in 2014.
With budget discussions set to get underway in November, village staff appeared before council at last Tuesday’s (Oct. 15) committee of the whole session, requesting that money be set aside for the barn to make the project more attractive to other potential funders.
The barn is a key piece of Pemberton’s plans for downtown enhancement, and has been on the village’s radar since the Frontier Street Master Plan was drafted by MVH Planning & Design Inc. in 2010.
The concept for the barn is a 5,000-square-foot, open-air, timber-frame structure that would be erected on the northeast corner of the intersection of Birch Road and Frontier Street. It would provide a sheltered location for the Pemberton Farmers’ Market and be the site of future community gatherings, cultural events and more.
The village has been working with the Timber Framers Guild (TFG) to refine the design plans, and the non-profit group is also willing to provide free labour and training during the construction phase.
However, the TFG needs to know by Jan. 15 if the funds are in place to make the project a reality in 2014 and whether to devote its resources to Pemberton. So far 18 community groups and agencies in Pemberton and Mount Currie are providing support to the project to the tune of $50,000. Village officials are hopeful for further funding sources to be confirmed in the coming months, though grassroots efforts and other community partners and event producers that may yet come to the table. The project is also in the running for a grant via the Aviva Community Fund, determined through an online voting contest. But there’s still a ways to go to reach the total budget of $375,000.
Last week, council gave the go-ahead for staff to submit an application for funding to the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation (WBF) for up to $240,000, which would cover the full capital costs of the barn project.
Although it’s no guarantee that the WBF will support the initiative, project manager Suzanne Bélanger said she was feeling “quite confident” that the village’s submission would be looked upon favourably.
“I think they realize that we are serious about this project,” Bélanger told council.
To help support the application, she asked council to consider putting $75,000 into a reserve fund to help cover the remaining shortfall on the project. However, the hope is for the funding gap to be met through other fundraising efforts.
Chief administrative officer Daniel Sailland noted that if funding from the WBF does not come through by mid-January, the village will still be working on a preliminary budget that could be amended to reflect council’s preferred direction for the project.
No councillors expressed hesitation about setting the money aside as a safety net.
“From my perspective, I think the town would like us to say, ‘Let’s move forward with this,’” said Councillor Ted Craddock. “If we go forward, that’s one more positive thing for the community.”
Added Mayor Jordan Sturdy: “I think it’s worth the risk myself as well.”
Voting in the Aviva Community Fund project is ongoing at www.avivacommunityfund.org until Nov. 25. Other Pemberton projects seeking funds through the contest include Pemberton BMX, which is looking for money to purchase a safer and quieter start gate, and the Pemberton Children’s Centre, which is seeking funding to install sun shades to provide safer play spaces in the summer.