The Mount Currie Band has registered its lack of opposition to the Village of Pemberton's plans for boundary extension, completing another step in the process to include four areas within Pemberton.
At a meeting on July 20, Mount Currie's band council confirmed a motion of non-opposition to Pemberton's boundary expansion plans.
Various properties along Airport Road, the Pemberton Creek watershed, the hillside adjacent to Mosquito Lake in Area C and the Rutherford Creek Power Plant on Highway 99 could all be included within Pemberton's boundaries.
The provincial cabinet has the authority to approve the expansion.
Mount Currie's position is the latest step in what has become a complicated process for Pemberton, which initially held a referendum on boundary expansion during the 2008 municipal election. The referendum was successful but the provincial government has since decided that it is uncomfortable with the way the question was phrased.
The village asked its residents, "Are you in favour of a boundary extension to include the Hillside area, the Pemberton Creek Watershed, the lands along Airport Road, and the lands south of Rutherford Creek within the Village of Pemberton boundaries?"
Though the question had been submitted to the province before holding the referendum, the province now feels it is being asked to consider four separate extensions, whereas before it was just one.
Pemberton has thus gone into what's called an Alternative Approval Process (AAP). Under this process, the village puts forward a question to residents that is specifically approved by the Ministry of Community and Rural Development. The question is then put to residents of the municipality that is trying to expand. Residents thus have a chance to comment on it.
Ten per cent of the electorate in the village, or 161 voters, had until July 12 to step forward and oppose the expansion in order to stop it moving forward. There were only 10 responses opposing the initiative.
The expansion has nevertheless drawn some very vocal opposition from a number of residents in the Pemberton area. One of them, Brenda McLeod, sent a letter to the Minister of Community and Rural Development opposing the expansion, saying that "appropriate local government process" has not been followed and that the plan does not follow Smart Growth principles.
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy first saw the letter at a June 28 meeting of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and roundly denounced it, saying it was chock-full of errors, particularly where it said that it contemplated the "sterilization of farmland." Pemberton Councillor Ted Craddock also denounced it when it came before Pemberton council.
On Tuesday Sturdy said the expansion is necessary to provide better governance at the village level.
"This is an interim step in the creation of a larger solution," he said. "And that larger solution is to supply or put in place governance that represents the interests of all the people who live in the Pemberton Valley.
"Currently the governance system is convoluted and not effective."
When he mentioned a "larger solution" he meant a wider governance study that would look at several other areas that currently lie within the purview of the SLRD, a regional government whose land-use decisions are made by representatives from Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton and Lillooet.
The study began this week with the awarding of a contract to Urban Systems to look into a review of governance in the northern areas of the SLRD.