The development of new commercial space on Highway 99 near the traffic lights leading into town is looking more likely after Pemberton council advanced a rezoning application for a property long known as the “pub site” last week.
Following a public hearing held prior to its Dec. 3 meeting, council gave third reading to a zoning amendment for a property adjacent to the Pemberton Valley Lodge. Once passed, the landowner will be allowed to pursue development of a drive-thru or sit-down restaurant, a spa, or recreation/leisure retail — uses that are not permitted under the current zoning.
The site is currently zoned for a neighbourhood pub or beer and wine store, but a provincial moratorium on issuing new private liquor store licences that runs through 2022, as well as unsuccessful attempts by the proponent to acquire one, has led to the land remaining vacant for some time.
Meanwhile, the Pemberton Valley Lodge has been supportive of having complementary businesses set up next door. Hotel owner-operator David MacKenzie, who previously presented in support of the rezoning to the village’s Advisory Land Use Commission, spoke again at last week’s public hearing, indicating his desire for the hotel to have something other than “a big dirt pile as curb appeal.”
The village received one written submission expressing concern that the character of Pemberton would be compromised, and business diverted from the village core, if another drive-thru chain restaurant was set up on the highway. Though Councillor Alan LeBlanc said he shared some of those concerns, the amendment reading ultimately passed later in the meeting.
Council had asked in a previous meeting to ask if a recreation/leisure retail use could have negative impacts to downtown business. Village staff provided the opinion that businesses of that variety could help promote Pemberton’s outdoor recreation and adventure tourism brand.
Sewer line complete, under budget
Council learned at last week’s meeting that the construction on a lift station and sewer force main along Poplar Road is now complete, and came in under budget.
The project, which had an original budget of $1 million, was completed at approximately $60,000 below the projected cost. The new line includes 850 metres of force main along Poplar Road and the east side of the Arn Canal, connecting to the existing lift station at the highway.
Chief administrative officer Daniel Sailland said the line is now “fully functional” and takes pressure off of the existing line along Portage Road, which he said was nearly at half-capacity — even while at a standstill during the construction period due to compaction in the line.
Sailland added that the project coming in under budget was a “silver lining,” considering that it’s been on the village’s work plan for three years and various challenges put the project well behind schedule.