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Boundary expansion could require second referendum



The Village of Pemberton may have to go to a second referendum on boundary expansion.

The last council meeting (May 18) saw lawmakers receive a report from chief administrator Daniel Sailland recommending that they move forward with steps three and four of the boundary extension process set out by B.C.'s Ministry of Community and Rural Development.

The process now requires the village to hold another referendum because the one held in tandem with the 2008 municipal election has not satisfied the statutory requirement for a vote.

"Essentially, they want us to go through the process again," Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said. "It was council's impression that this was going to meet those statutory requirements, but since that time the ministry has suggested that it didn't meet the requirements."

Step 3 of the boundary expansion process is a Ministry Review, in which the ministry acknowledges receipt of the Village's expansion proposal and reviews the submission by preparing an administrative report that provides the municipality with feedback.

Once the ministry confirms a complete boundary expansion proposal it is then referred to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for review.

Step 4, Elector Approval, requires "municipal elector" approval of the proposed expansion. It can be obtained through a referendum or an Alternative Approval Process as mandated under Sections 85 and 86 of the Community Charter.

The Village of Pemberton has actually completed this process but, as noted above, it now has to go through it again because the Province was not satisfied with the initial vote.

The boundary expansion has taken on an added urgency in recent months as development at Hillside - one of 20 areas subject to the expansion - currently lies within Area C of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) and is subject to development approvals by a regional board with representatives from communities such as Squamish and Whistler.

The expansion would bring Hillside under the village's governance and allow lawmakers to make decisions on land use, rather than split those decisions with politicians from other communities.

Hillside is currently the subject of a battle over Sunstone Ridge, a proposed residential and recreational neighbourhood that includes an international private school being developed by GEMS International.

The regional board has thus far refused to endorse a Neighbourhood Concept Plan (NCP) that would allow Sunstone Ridge to start developing which in turn stalled developing of the school, which is expected to be an economic boon for Pemberton.

The developers of Sunstone Ridge are also the proponents of the school. They have chosen to move applications through the SLRD's zoning process together, which has stalled approval.

Other areas expected to be brought in under the village's current expansion proposal include the Rutherford Creek Power Plant, which alone could bring $135,000 in tax revenue to the village.

Council also received correspondence from the Lil'wat Nation, which initially wasn't sure about Pemberton taking over governance of the Hillside area. They worried it would mean the lands were being ceded to Pemberton but village lawmakers calmed those concerns by saying they would only govern it.

The Lil'wat Nation, a partner in Sunstone Ridge, now has no opposition to the village expanding its governance boundaries to include Hillside.