Although the provincial Ministry of the Environment turned down Pemberton's initial request for a stream flow monitoring system and early warning system for the upper Lillooet River, Mayor Jordan Sturdy is confident they'll get it in the end.
"I think that we're going to get where we need to go," he said on Tuesday after the Village of Pemberton council meeting. Council approved drafting a letter to the Ministry of the Environment and other stakeholders explaining the need and costs of the system.
"It's not uncommon to see these sorts of budget requests not supported at the staff level, and the Ministry of the Environment is challenged regularly with expenditures, but our first answer to that is that this is a public safety priority, especially at this time of the year. It's important for government to understand it."
Sturdy said the two systems would cost $30,000 to purchase and $15,000 per year to maintain.
Pemberton requested the system following an August 2010 landslide and rainfall event that created a massive lake of water on Mt. Meager. Mt. Currie and the Pemberton Meadows were evacuated, some 1,500 residents, out of concerns over what might happen if the dam of rocks and debris holding back the lake suddenly burst. In the end, the breach happened gradually and the lake drained without incident.
Sturdy said that kind of slide, which occurred 60-kilometres north of Pemberton, could happen again without anyone noticing a drop in water levels.
"The Lillooet FSR is typically not travelled past the Hurley (FSR) turnoff and it's about 30-kilometres from there to Meager in an area that's not well travelled," he said.
"If the event happened in the mid afternoon or nobody flew over it, we wouldn't know anything about it. We could have 12 hours, 18 hours of being completely unaware that the river was blocked and was building up a dam of water behind it."
Sturdy's concern at this time of year is that the early season snowpack isn't thick or cold enough to absorb a rain event. Once there's a metre-and-a-half of snow in the alpine it "acts like a big sponge," he said.
The Village of Pemberton will copy MLA Joan McIntyre and others on the letter, and will follow up with ministers.
"If necessary we'll be making trips to Victoria (to lobby government directly)," said Sturdy. "I don't think it will be hard to demonstrate the value of this thing, and the value it can provide to the community for very little money."
Subdivision and development bylaws gets second reading
Mayor Sturdy is hoping that builders and developers in the Pemberton area will take advantage of a window of opportunity to provide their feedback on the Subdivision and Development Control Bylaw that passed second reading at Pemberton Council on Tuesday morning.
The law will update the municipality's regulations regarding the subdivision and development of land, everything from aesthetics to design criteria to servicing. Once it becomes law, applications for subdivisions and developments will have to meet the criteria.
"We intended to go to third reading, but there was some clarification required on a few of the terms," said Sturdy. "We really hope that the development community, who we've referred this to in the past, will take the time to review what we're proposing. It's really all about how to do a subdivision or development and what's required, and to make it easy to do business here."