BCR-Signal Hill bylaws approved

Plan for new neighbourhood in heart of Pemberton gets council's nod

After what he described as a 2 -year journey so far with the BCR Properties-Signal Hill Homes development being proposed for the heart of the Village of Pemberton, longtime local Bruce van Mook felt inspired to "gently reflect" on the evolution of the plan with the Village's council on Tuesday (March 30) after the officials gave fourth and final reading to the bylaws required for the Gateway Park/Tiyata neighbourhood.

Van Mook, partner in the development proposal with fellow Pembertonian Garth Phare, spoke at Tuesday's special council meeting about the prospect of wandering the streets of the new neighbourhood 10 years from now, and appreciating the beautiful plan.

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Calling the approval a "very significant moment for Pemberton," van Mook thanked project architect Don Nicolson and Caroline Lamont, the Village's manager of development services, for her help on behalf of the community in moulding the plan for the mixed-use neighbourhood to what it has become.

He told The Question the proponents would likely take some time to catch their breaths after securing final approval of the bylaws, which gives them a new beginning. Van Mook said that if all goes well, he expects the developers could be looking at starting to build the first home around April or May of next year, and could deliver some homes in the latter part of 2011.

Van Mook said the proponents are satisfied with what they're being asked to contribute to the community along with the development, after back-and-forth dialogue with the proponents, staff and council in recent months.

"We've always maintained that we're willing to provide certain amenities that were important to the community, and we're going to do that," van Mook said.

The lands for the new neighbourhood lie in the Village's core, mainly bounded by Highway 99, Pemberton Creek, Signal Hill Elementary School and the CN Rail line. Village of Pemberton documents establish the vision for the neighbourhood as a "sustainable development that offers housing types catering to people with a wide range of incomes and ages," one that gives its residents easy access to places of work, shopping and community amenities.

According to the Official Community Plan designation bylaw establishing the special planning area for the Gateway Park/Tiyata neighbourhood, the mixed-use development will include about 296 dwelling units of different types, approximately 2,695 square metres of commercial or office space, park land in more than five per cent of the site and a trail network.

The Tiyata neighbourhood covers about 22 acres, and the proponents also control another 10 acres known as the Wye lands that will be covered under a separate application and will also have residential housing, van Mook said.

The amenity contributions to the community that will come along with the new development are set out in an appendix to the staff report attached to the Official Community Plan and zoning amendment bylaws.

They include the Village Loop Trail, a community garden with improvements, an affordable housing site, a school bus drop-off area, parkland dedications and park improvements. The value of those amenities is estimated at between $655,000 and $890,000.

According to the appendix, the developers are also proposing improvements that will earn them credits toward their required development cost charges (DCCs), in the form of building a pedestrian bridge over Pemberton Creek, construction of a sewer line along Highway 99 from Portage Road to the lift station, and oversizing sewer and water lines on the site to allow for future off-site development.

Flood protection works along Pemberton Creek have also been a point for debate. The appendix to the staff report states that the Pemberton Valley Dyking District is awarding a contract for the design and construction plan for those improvements. The dyking project will be on hold until the resources can be found to finish it, with an estimated cost of between $600,000 and $800,000.

The staff report states that it's the developers' responsibility to undertake those works. Van Mook said the developers are "committed to cooperating" with all parties in discussions about covering those costs.

Last October, the proponents raised concerns with council about also making payments for the Village's Community Amenity Contribution policy. Lamont said council decided the spirit of that voluntary policy is being followed through the in-kind contributions.

Council pressing for completed transit review

At a Finance Committee meeting that followed Tuesday's special council meeting, Village officials discussed ways to press for completion of B.C. Transit's review of transit services for the Pemberton area, supporting a motion that local officials contact B.C. Transit and emphasize its urgency.

Council members also supported a recommendation to extend the cost-sharing agreement for transit until September, by which time it is hoped that the service review will be completed. The Village is part of the cost-sharing agreement with the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and Mount Currie Band to pay a portion of the transit costs.

A staff report from Roger Lundie, the Village's manager of finance, noted that Mount Currie leaders have been reviewing their participation in the agreement because of escalating costs, and Lundie said Tuesday that he expected the Band council to discuss the agreement that night.

On Monday (March 29), Lil'wat Chief Leonard Andrew told The Question he thinks the service seems "adequate" right now, but in the past there have been issues of service versus cost. The issue comes down to whether the service is fulfilling the needs of both communities, he said.

With a report on the Park and Ride service funded by the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee to support the expanded transit during the Olympics, Lundie suggested putting the $64,000 surplus from that service aside for future regional transit needs.

VANOC paid $112,000 for the Olympic Park and Ride, Lundie's report said, and costs of just $48,175 were incurred, primarily because snow clearing costs were less than expected.

Mayor Jordan Sturdy expressed doubts about putting the surplus toward regional transit, saying that what's important for the service is to secure long-term, stable funding, and a one-off contribution would only be a stop-gap measure. Council, though, adopted a motion to set the surplus aside for future needs and discussion.

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