The race for mayor in Pemberton has kicked off with incumbent
Jordan Sturdy and Councillor David MacKenzie declaring their candidacies for
the Nov. 15 election.
Both candidates are completing their first terms on Village of
Pemberton council. It’s been a busy three years that has included a massive new
music festival, a proposed private school and a series of housing developments.
For Sturdy, one of the biggest issues facing the next council
will be managing those developments for the benefit of the community.
“There is significant demand here,” he said in an interview
. “There are proposals, there
are lots of ideas, and I think what we need to start doing is thinking a little
bit more about who we are as a community and where we want to go.”
Sturdy said the community has changed significantly over the
past two decades, going from a population of around 300 to a current population
of approximately 3,000 people.
With a change in population comes a need to revisit the
community’s identity, Sturdy said.
“I think it’s time that we have this conversation as a
community,” he said. “I think it’s important we create a dialogue about what
Pemberton is and how we define ourselves and… where we want to go in the
MacKenzie, who serves as president of the Pemberton Regional
Airport Authority and chairman of Tourism Pemberton, said one of his biggest
focuses as mayor would be increasing the community’s population.
“I think that this area can certainly use a little more
population growth that will assist our developing businesses,” he said.
Those projects include Frontier Plaza, a four-storey mixed-use
building to be located at the 7400 block of Frontier Street between Birch
Street and Camus Street. They also include Arbutus Walk, a mixed-use building
complex to be located at 7380 Crabapple Court.
The latter had a development permit approved at a special
meeting on July 22, while a development permit was approved for Frontier Plaza
at the Aug. 12 council meeting.
The elephant in the room for both candidates is undoubtedly the
status of the Pemberton Music Festival.
Both candidates are keen on seeing the festival in town again,
though they may face challenges in finding a new site to hold it. B.C.’s
Agricultural Land Commission approved the site of this year’s festival for one
Also at stake for the next council are issues related to a
proposed extension of the VOP’s boundaries. If approved, the expansion will
amalgamate 20 new areas into the VOP including the Rutherford Power Plant and
settlement areas near Ivey and Mosquito Lakes.
The VOP stands to gain $250,000 in annual taxes if the
expansion is approved.
And if it does go through, MacKenzie said the tax money could
be very helpful for a community that often has to rely on government grants to
carry out important infrastructure projects.
“We’ve been tax poor for a long time,” MacKenzie said. “There’s
times when we’ve had to put things on hold and play the waiting game until
grants come through.”
Though he’s proud of his time as a councillor, MacKenzie’s
tenure hasn’t come without internal tension.
In 2007 he filed a human rights complaint against the Village
and Pemberton Fire
Chief Russell Mack.
MacKenzie, a gay man, alleged that he was passed over for a
promotion because of his sexual orientation and that Mack subjected him to
homophobic jokes while he served as a volunteer firefighter.
that all parties in the complaint reached a confidential settlement that was
“mutual for both parties.”
However that’s not how Mack tells it. He said the process is still ongoing, but he deferred to lawyers for further commentary.