This story starts with a dog.
A dog is shot. Everybody has an opinion, a finger to point. A schism erupts in a small community, and people are either on one side or the other of a dont-look-down crevasse.
In Pemberton, the old-guard and the new kids on the block are squaring off. Veronica Woodruffs anti-hunting crusade, in the wake of her dogs killing, has scratched the surface of a deeper conflict. Pemberton is changing faster than anyone can keep up. And that has some people feeling very proprietary.
Long-time locals have been heard to comment: Well, everybody knows its a hunting ground in the fall.
But I didnt know that. And I realize that I dont know much about Pemberton at all.
What is Pemberton all about? The numbers speak for themselves. In 1993, the population of Pemberton hovered around 300. By 1996, it had exploded to 897. By 2003, it had more than doubled again, hitting 1,997. If you include the population of Area C in the SLRD, which takes in the Pemberton Meadows, the Pemberton to Whistler corridor, the Mount Currie to DArcy corridor, and the First Nations communities, thats another 2,800 people looking to much of Pembertons infrastructure.
At the library, they feel the swells and surges of the population first-hand. The library is a front line service provider, and the staff are often the first friendly community face for new residents. Hovering around the check-out desk, I discover librarian Jan Naylor knows everyones stories how long theyve been here, where theyre headed next, why theyre moving on. Shes like a weathervane for the community, and I check in with her, to take the pulse of Pemberton, just as my predecessor Oona Woods did for Pique , in 1997 in her story "Pembertons growing pains."
"In 1980, when the library started," says Naylor, "we had a circulation of 4,000 items. Last year, we circulated just under 39,000." Every year since 1990, library circulation has increased by an average of 10 per cent a year. This season, Naylor is seeing more francophones "a lot of the young people whove come to work at Whistler are coming in to use the computers" and a baby explosion. "Theres a real need for a new baby time, and story time," she says, noting that the Books for Babies program has served close to 100 babies a year since it started in 2002.
Pemberton is bursting at the seams. Nothing new there. No wonder the old-timers are shaking their heads.
Seed potato capital. Mountain biking out my back door. Organic farms with harvest boxes and farm-gate operations. Cowboys clopping past my house with as much frequency as the cyclists. The touchstone of Mount Currie that keeps us forever looking to the mountains. Thats the Pemberton post-card series.