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Controversial subdivision goes to ALC

Pemberton council divided over one-acre lots on agricultural land

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A controversial proposal to subdivide land at 7476 Prospect in Pemberton has been forwarded to the province’s Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) for review.

The property, owned by Pemberton residents Bob Menzel and Susan Perry, has been the subject of a proposal to subdivide the approximately 29-acre site into nine one-acre lots for homes and leave aside 20 acres as a “common farming area.” The land lies within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), an area where agriculture is a priority use.

Menzel and Perry’s proposal was previously approved by the Village of Pemberton’s Agricultural Land Use Committee (ALUC) but council voted not to forward it to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) at its June 3 meeting.

Councillor Jennie Helmer, who vehemently opposes the proposal, said that one acre is not enough to farm on and that the proposal could make it difficult to till the land itself. She and Mayor Jordan Sturdy, two of only three council members present at the June 3 meeting, voted not to send it to the ALC.

The proposal was brought back to the VOP last week when Councillor Mark Blundell, who was not present for the June 3 meeting, asked that council consider the proposal again.

At its Aug. 12 meeting council voted to forward the proposal to the ALC, with Helmer and Sturdy the dissenting votes. Helmer reiterated her concerns that one acre is not enough to farm upon, while Blundell, not wanting to contradict the advice of the village’s ALUC, voted in favour.

Sturdy did not support the proposal, but he did support a “friendly amendment” asking that the land’s drainage be improved for agricultural purposes.

“I was pretty certain that the motion was going to succeed,” Sturdy said. “So if it’s going to succeed, let’s make it as good as we can make it.”

VOP council also received an interim report at the Aug. 12 meeting regarding a proposed extension of its boundaries. The meeting included a presentation from John Steil, a principal with Vancouver-based design firm Stantec.

Steil is working with the VOP on a proposal for boundary expansion that could see 20 new areas absorbed within Pemberton’s boundaries. Those areas include the Rutherford Power Plant on Highway 99 as well as settlement areas near Mosquito and Ivey lakes.

In total, the amalgamated areas could bring as much as $200,000 in annual taxes to VOP coffers, tax revenues that currently go to the province of British Columbia, according to Sturdy.

Those taxes could be a boost for a community that has been “tax poor” for a long time, according to Councillor David MacKenzie.

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