Pemberton has been allowed to remove 11.2 hectares of farmland land from the Agricultural Land Reserve and part of it could be a future recreation development site in the village.
The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) gave permission for the change in a letter to the Village of Pemberton on Aug. 30.
Part of the land, 8.6 hectares owned by the Den Duyf family, is adjacent to the Plateau and the future Hillside development. The family has gifted it to the Village of Pemberton for the nominal sum of $10.
It is currently a gravel pit site used as a parking area off the Sea to Sky Highway for mountain bikers accessing nearby trails, including the new Friendship Trail. It is five minutes by vehicle from both Mount Currie and Pemberton.
The land is also next to the proposed independent sports school The Hill Academy, which is still in its early stages of development.
The late Art Den Duyf, owner of Sabre Trucking, first offered the land to the village in 2010; his widow Nellie and daughter Joanne are completing the gift. The remaining 2.6 hectares will remain with the Den Duyf family through their company Sabre, with the aim of building a hillside residential development.
Acquiring lands for future community recreational facilities was targeted in Pemberton's recent Recreation Facilities Implementation Plan, presented in draft form to the council in July. In the report, VOP staff said the Den Duyf land was specifically mentioned as being "large enough to accommodate a field house, arena, pool and playing fields, and therefore fulfill community needs in the longer term."
Residents were asked as part of the recent recreation survey if they supported the purchase of the property. The VOP received a resounding "yes."
Caroline Lamont, Pemberton's manager of development services, said this allows the conversation for the future of recreation facilities in the community to actually take place with a location in mind.
"We've probably been planning this for close to two years," she said. "A year ago we had the lease-purchase sale, but we didn't want to purchase it until we'd been to the community and had feedback on the different sites."
Lamont added that although the land is a gift the Den Duyfs would be credited for the park dedication in their future subdivision.
Pemberton's mayor Jordan Sturdy said in an interview they were excited by the opportunity that the ALC decision has created.
"You couldn't pick a better location in many respects.... the site is on granite, so it's easier to build a facility on solid granite when you're on a floodplain... be it a fieldhouse or eventually a rink or a pool," Sturdy said.
He added that the proponents behind The Hill Academy had already been informed of the ALC decision but were not yet ready to make a statement about their intentions.
"As well, we will be working with the proponents behind the independent school and hopefully we will be able to find an outcome that is suitable," Sturdy said.