News » Whistler

Industrial park and VOP reach agreement on services

Community benefits could include secondary community water source, more tax revenue



Page 2 of 3

McIvor anticipates the actual cost may be lower because of the extent of the existing infrastructure.

Another benefit of implementing the plan would be the addition of a balancing reservoir. In addition to serving the other end of the Pemberton Valley, the aquifer proposed to be located on the Birkenhead River, would provide the whole community with water in event of contamination of the current well. Water pressure, long a problem in Pemberton, would also be more consistent.

"We’re running short of time to get it done this year, but we’re hoping to work with council to get it resolved," says McIvor, adding: "We’re hoping to have the pipe servicing for the water and sewer in this fall and then figure out the subsequent effect to the DCC."

David Allen, VOP’s director of development, believes the project could be underway within two months.

"Part of the challenge we have now is the DCC collected at the park go into pay for services down the road, but that could take quite a while, Urban Systems estimated that it would take 30 years to collect enough DCC to service that park," explains Allen.

"We’re trying to find creative ways to ensure we can move on this sooner rather than later."

Allen feels that if the DCC are not eliminated, they will be dramatically reduced.

"What we’re looking at within the option we’ve chosen are other options. For example, it might be more feasible to do everything in the option other than the reservoir, which could be done later. We could work at getting the sewer in there and worrying about adding a balancing reservoir in a year or so," says Allen.

One major issue to consider is how the VOP will secure its one-third of the cost.

"If we need to borrow we need to get public assent one way or the other – whether that’s through counter petition or referendum. Mayor and council have not decided yet as to how they will approach that," says Allen, citing other possibilities such as a P3 partnership.

Whatever the execution, the administration is fully behind bringing services to the industrial park, having passed a motion on June 21 to research funding options.

"This is a plan that council sees as having long-term economic benefits to the community," says Allen.

McIvor estimates that the tax benefit to the VOP upon build out would be $350,000 a year, but stresses that many other benefits will be felt immediately – providing that council acts quickly.

"The immediate impact is that we would have the ability to start attracting businesses and therefore jobs," says McIvor. "It will promote business and create a tax base. If we wait another year, there may be businesses that would want to be in Pemberton but will choose either Whistler or Squamish. Right now we have to get the infrastructure in place so we can capitalize on commercial and industrial interests."