It was standing room only at Tuesday's (April 5) Village of Pemberton council meeting, at which the owners of Cedar View Estate on Collins Road once again had their bid for a zoning amendment bylaw allowing for temporary commercial use denied.
Owners Beau and Rebecca Craig hosted weddings on their property until being told by the Village in September that the land's zoning did not allow for such events. With several weddings already booked for 2011, the Craigs sought a rezoning amendment bylaw and temporary commercial use permit that would let their business continue, but council rejected the application and related public hearing at its March 15 meeting.
The matter appeared before council again Tuesday after the Craigs requested leniency for three upcoming weddings that could not be relocated, but council denied the request by a 2-1 vote. Mayor Jordan Sturdy and Councillor Lisa Ames declared conflicts of interest and did not participate in the discussion or vote.
About 40 Pemberton residents, including local business operators out in support of the Cedar View request and others opposed to events on the property, witnessed the decision after Beau Craig and neighbouring resident Jack Reynolds argued their cases to council for and against the zoning amendment, respectively.
Craig said he was disappointed that council had ruled against the bylaw last month without first taking it to a public hearing. He also said the loss of events on his property were detrimental to the local business sector as a whole because customers would likely choose somewhere other than Pemberton to get married.
"By closing our doors, you have literally taken money out of the pockets of many local businesses," said Craig. "You have also taken jobs away from many Pemberton locals. I hope this is something these businesses and locals don't forget when it comes time to vote in November."
Reynolds has sent council written complaints on the illegal use of the property multiple times and outlined the concerns of neighbours on Tuesday. He cited excessive noise and "unsightly" tents and portable washrooms on the property as common complaints of neighbours when functions have been held at Cedar View.
Councillors Susie Gimse and Ted Craddock voted to deny the Craigs' application, with Gimse saying that "there was quite a bit of feedback to myself and other councillors with respect to this application, not just from the SLRD constituents but Village of Pemberton constituents as well."
Councillor Al LeBlanc opposed the denial.
"I think Pemberton's a small community and you really have to nurture any business that we have here. It's unfortunate it's got to this point," he said. "I think other places that hold these events are now going to be under the spotlight and unfortunately we've just opened a big can of worms."
Reynolds said he personally contacted at least two other Pemberton wedding venues that told him they would be happy to take on the events that needed to be relocated. Beau Craig responded to that information by email after the meeting, stating that the customers needing relocation had also contacted the same venues and the dates in question were not available at the venues named by Reynolds.
No increase in transit ridership noticed
Council on Tuesday approved the six-month transit operating agreement, which will see a reduction in service over the summer period.
After Pemberton residents lobbied for more daily trips on the Whistler commuter as well as for local service, an increase was approved for the winter. However, overall ridership did not change significantly with the increased service, which council members said Tuesday that they found disappointing.
Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) transportation co-ordinator Peter DeJong presented a report to council that gave details of ridership over the winter period at Tuesday's committee of the whole.
"There wasn't really the uptake on the extra service we were hoping for or expecting given the demand that seemed to be out there," said DeJong. "We normally do terminate the early morning service in any event at this time of year, but my hope was that we could generate enough interest among the ridership to justify continuing that service through the summer."
SLRD staff has recommended a pilot project for late-night commuter service to Whistler that would match up with the Squamish-Whistler bus schedule, as well as late-night local service.
The proposed commuter bus for July and August would depart from Whistler at 11:10 p.m. and return to the resort before midnight. The proposed local service would be scheduled to accommodate riders arriving in Pemberton from the late-night commuter.