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The situation with Pemberton's sewage discharge and the non-occupancy of the new Pemberton Secondary School is bordering on the absurd. Moreover, the current stalemate holds consequences for most of the corridor. How the school district came to have a brand new high school and no occupancy permit is a lesson in bureaucracy and politics. Pemberton won't issue an occupancy permit because its sewage treatment system can't handle the increase in volume the school will bring. (The old school was outside the village boundaries and not on the sewage system). Pemberton, like most municipalities, was encouraged to apply for funding to upgrade its sewage system through the federal/provincial infrastructure program. It now turns out that the program was way over-sold and dozens of municipalities were bypassed for funding. If the village was to hook the school up to the sewer system it could face fines of $10,000 a day from the Ministry of Environment for exceeding its permitted discharge. Pemberton is partly to blame for the sewage problem because it hasn't increased taxes or its tax base despite the recent growth in the community. Meanwhile, under the rules for capital expenditure in education (capital funding has to be approved by both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Employment and Investment) the school board had to build the school when it did or risk losing the funding. (Requiring two ministries to approve capital spending is part of the reason the Whistler high school is a year behind schedule and Whistler students will be going to Pemberton again this year, although exactly where they will be going is still unclear). So today, less than a month before school is to start, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs says it has no money to help Pemberton upgrade its sewage treatment plant, the Ministry of Environment won't allow Pemberton to exceed its permitted discharge level, the Village of Pemberton won't issue an occupancy permit for the new school, so the school district is suing Pemberton. Surely it's time for someone in Victoria to step in and show some leadership. The Village of Pemberton and School District No. 48 have both been operating under direction and guidelines set out by the provincial ministries. That suggests someone in the provincial government should take responsibility.

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