A number of business and property owners in Pemberton's industrial park are voicing opposition to a plan that would see the waste-transfer station on Carpenter Road move to a similar-sized location with slightly more usable space on Venture Place.
"They're spending basically $1.5 million to move it (around) ... 100 metres onto the exact same size site," said Pemberton Distillery Inc. owner Tyler Schramm.
Schramm wrote a letter of opposition to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) that 23 industrial park property and business owners signed on to, including the owners of well-established businesses such as Mountainview Storage. He noted that Pemberton is growing quickly and it makes more sense for a waste-transfer station to be built on a larger parcel of land where it can expand if need be.
The proposed lot at 1950 Venture Pl. is a 0.2-hectare parcel that is owned by the SLRD. The current lot, on 1947 Carpenter Rd., is of similar size, but according to the SLRD, only 0.12 hectares of it is usable.
"It really does seem like a poor planning decision to put it on a small lot
that doesn't allow for any future growth," said Schramm.
If the SLRD's plan goes ahead, Pemberton's new waste-transfer station will be located directly next to Schramm's business.
According to Schramm, that could lead to traffic problems. "The logistics of getting things in and out of there will end up impacting other businesses," he said.
According to a statement from the SLRD, the new facility will accommodate growth in the Pemberton area and allow for more waste diversion options. It will also allow for the waste-transfer site to be on SLRD-owned land; the regional district has leased the Carpenter Road site since 2006.
"The construction of a new transfer station, on SLRD-owned property, would provide the SLRD with a valuable asset and improved security of tenure, as well as the ability to better manage increased waste volumes as the population of the area expands," it reads. "The new site would be able to accommodate the current and future needs of the community." The statement goes on to say that the site would feature key infrastructure improvements, such as better small-vehicle access, two scales that would provide "streamlined unidirectional traffic flow, and storage area for household appliances containing ozone-depleting substances."
To fund construction of the facility, the SLRD gained approval from eligible voters in the service area to borrow up to $1,375,000 over a 30-year term by way of an alternative approval process (AAP).
As part of the process, the regional district placed two advertisements in the Pique, on April 5 and 12, and invited voters in the service area to register opposition by May 14. According to the SLRD, the regional district only received one response noting opposition. If 10 per cent of eligible voters—415 people—had registered opposition, the SLRD would have been barred from proceeding with the plan without first holding a referendum.
That said, it appears the SLRD is now considering options other than the Venture Place lot.
"Since the AAP was completed, the SLRD has heard some concerns from area business operators regarding the proposed new location of the Pemberton Transfer Station," reads the statement. "Staff are currently reviewing the project, including considering alternate sites."
The statement, however, also notes that the "Pemberton Industrial Park is currently the only place in Pemberton that is zoned for this type of use."
Schramm said that the SLRD's consultation efforts didn't go far enough.
"I think they should have definitely consulted more with business owners," he said.
Schramm also questions if the industrial park is the best location for the waste-transfer station, given that it is an out-of-the-way location for people commuting between Pemberton and Whistler.
"I feel like as a resident of the SLRD, I should have been more included in the decision," he said. "It's a fairly good chunk of taxpayer money that's basically going to move this site a hundred metres down the road."
Graham Turner, president of the Pemberton and District Chamber of Commerce, said that while the Chamber has not taken an official position on the move, there needs to be increased consultation with regards to the future of the industrial park.
"I don't have the answer as to what the vision is, but I know these breweries, distilleries and organic marijuana facilities are planning tourism as part of their business models," said Turner.
"Right now, there is nowhere to get a bite to eat down there, for instance. At the end of the day, it has to do with consultation, and who the landowners are and what they're planning."