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Investor wants to develop 1,203 acres in Pemberton

Lack of action fuels talk of moratorium



A private land investor has made his plans to develop 1,203 acres in the Pemberton valley public after trying for two years to get the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District to listen to his case.

Ian Porter, who previously lived in Pemberton for a year, acquired the 1,203 acres in 2003. The majority of the property is seven parcels of farm land, which Porter wants to subdivide into eight parcels. He also wants rezoning to create 10 five-acre lots along the Ryan River.

In return, Porter is offering to donate 389 acres to the community for recreation and park use.

Porter also said he would be willing to contribute to recreational amenities if the SLRD decided that’s what was needed.

"I’m biased, but I look at this as an unbelievable opportunity for the valley because the only recreational place there is to speak of in Pemberton is the One Mile Lake area," said Porter.

"I could just sell it off the way it is now but if that happens then that’s it, there’ll never be another chance to put trails through the valley or park land. What I’m suggesting is that I’ll give away 389 acres of land and what we’re asking in return is one extra parcel of land in the farming area and 10, five-acre lots.

"I’ve put this proposal on the table twice before and I didn’t even get an audience with the SLRD."

Porter said he had been watching what the Ravens Crest developers have had to go through with their real estate proposal and seen what recreational amenities they offered the SLRD and the Pemberton council.

"I know this Ravens Crest has got a whole lot of hullabaloo going but it is good in one way in that it gets the community thinking about a decision.

"But I wanted to keep this away from talk about other facilities and amenities because I see the land as the issue. At the end of the day what’s going to be valuable over the next 200 years is the land."

Porter feels there may be an unofficial moratorium on development in Area C, but SLRD Chairman John Turner is adamant that there has been no talk of a moratorium on development and asked developers to be patient.

"I would encourage Mr Porter to be patient and try again because Steve Olmstead has been away on holidays and when he’s not there Paul Edgington is a point of contact," said Turner.

"And I can assure you that as a board we have not talked about a moratorium at all and in this case it wouldn’t be a capacity issue because the developers pay for other experts if we need more advice."

Turner said the public must also understand that there are many processes, which are not made public but are vital for ensuring that developers do the right thing.

The issue of recreational facilities for some of the young families in Pemberton is huge right now but Turner said it would be wrong for the SLRD to start fast-tracking projects or attempting to "sell" zoning to the highest bidder.

"This is not something that could be done in a couple of months; developments of this size often take two or three years with the public hearings and changes in zoning," he said.

"Decisions aren’t being made based on how much people are willing to pay for zoning either, because we want long term development and sustainability."

Turner said the other issue with Area C is that it is in a flood plain, which is why much of the area must remain farming land.

"There’s flood plains up there and if we let this go ahead and something happens we’d be held responsible because we knew the risk… these are the kinds of things that have to be considered in the planning process."

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