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Controversial subdivision to be considered in January

Menzel property to be examined by ALC

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A controversial subdivision in the Village of Pemberton is scheduled to go before the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) in January.

Bob Menzel and Susan Perry, owners of a 29-acre farm property at 7476 Prospect, are proposing to divide it 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), where agriculture is a priority use, so any applications to change the use of the land have to go through the commission.

Menzel and Perry currently use the property to operate Adventures on Horseback, a family-owned business that offers guided trail rides in the Pemberton Valley. They’re looking to put the land to a different use by allowing people to build homes on each of the nine proposed lots and let them farm on the remaining property.

Menzel, who expects to retire soon, said in a brief interview that he heard only recently the ALC would consider his application in January, but he wouldn’t offer further comment about the proposal.

The subdivision has found its way to the ALC after a lengthy back-and-forth between the proponents and the VOP. The current proposal was brought to council on June 3, when a VOP staff report recommended that the application not be forwarded to the ALC.

Jennie Helmer, a councillor at the time, agreed with the recommendation and said the proposal was unfeasible. She worried that the subdivision would take land out of the ALR because it wouldn’t be used for farming.

Mayor Jordan Sturdy also voted not to send it to the ALC, though he did say at the time that he would like to see development on the property. The recommendation passed.

Councillor Mark Blundell, however, asked council to reconsider the subdivision and that happened at the Aug. 12 meeting, where Blundell along with Councillors Kirsten McLeod and David MacKenzie voted to send it to the commission.

Blundell, who was not present for the June 3 meeting, said at the August meeting that he did not want to contradict the advice of the village’s Agricultural Land Use Committee (ALUC), which supported the subdivision even though the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District’s Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC) did not.

When contacted at home, Menzel seemed miffed at how much time the last village council took to process his application.

“You’ve got to understand that a lot of this is personal attacks on us,” he said. “Otherwise it would have been approved a long time ago.”

The ALUC supported the application for a number of reasons — among them, the committee felt that the subdivision could help restore nearby 2-Mile Creek by improving drainage and could be “perfect” for small acre farms.

Drew Meredith, one of the committee’s members, felt the project would be “something positive” with regard to the village’s needs and that the lands could offer “great potential” for community trails and parks.

Ted Craddock, a village councillor who was then chair of the ALUC, said at the time that he liked Menzel and Perry’s concept but he had concerns with regard to the cost of development, as well as how quickly they could gather the funds to move the project forward.

Craddock said in a voicemail message last Friday that the ALUC supported council’s direction with recommendations that included keeping the land in the ALR and improving drainage to benefit the fish population in the creek.

He also said in his message that the committee is looking forward to hearing the ALC’s decision on the proposal.

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