Independent power now a reality SLRD accept re-zoning application By Paul Andrew A rezoning application to allow development of an independent power project on Crown land has been accepted by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District. The Aug. 23 meeting of the SLRD heard the president of Miller Creek Power Ltd., David Andrews, present a persuasive proposal for the project. Susie Gimse, who is the director of Area C and the chairman of the SLRD, said the regional district did not include the re-zoning application on its July 26 agenda because Gimse wanted Andrews to do more community outreach. "There was also the 110 names on a petition opposing the project," Gimse said before the meeting Monday. "But they’ve definitely improved their P.R." The strategy seems to have worked in favour of Pemberton and MCPL. Gimse said numerous factors helped Andrews’ re-zoning application, but the No. 1 reason was the power line route being moved. "The issue was the mountain side route. There was tremendous opposition to that. Now they have re-routed the power lines to run on the Hydro lines already in the valley," Gimse explained. "So now there will be no carving up of the mountain and no power lines running across private property." In addition, BC Hydro has requested MCPL have its equipment in place at Hydro’s power station, which would let Hydro use the station as a back-up for power in the area. This latest development comes after BC Hydro announced it has plans to install a new switch in the area to reduce lengthy power outages. Gimse said Andrews readily agreed to Hydro’s request. "And of course they have improved P.R. immensely," Gimse continued. "Taxes were also an issue. Pemberton and Area C share a lot of the same service areas, for utilities. And we’ll work on expanding some of those service areas so Miller Creek is included like any another taxpayer. It will be assessed much the same way house assessments are for taxes." Gimse added the $150,000 promised to Pemberton as part of the deal to have the Miller Creek Watershed area re-zoned will most likely go toward a recreation centre for the Pemberton Valley. Gimse said the centre will be inside the Village of Pemberton’s boundaries, but will be used by Area C residents in addition to village residents. The application to re-zone the land will now go to SLRD staff, who will begin preparing bylaws for the project. Afterward, board members will take the application to first and second reading. It then comes back to Pemberton for a public hearing, which should take place sometime this fall. "I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to say whether the application will be passed," Gimse said. "It’s about a six-month process."