Pemberton is one step closer to getting a new, 36-unit residential development.
The Village of Pemberton (VOP) council voted to support a Portage Road project — subject to conditions — during a Tuesday, Jan. 16 meeting.
The stylish development is made up of two rectangular structures and will house a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom townhomes.
Situated across from the Pemberton and District Community Centre, the proposed development would sit on a lot has been empty for a long time, explained VOP Mayor Mike Richman. "That site has been sitting vacant and not been attractive for some time, so I'm happy to see something will happen there," he said.
The development will be built to passive house standards and using materials sourced from BC Passive House, a prefabrication company based in Pemberton.
Passive house design principles are meant to significantly reduce the energy required for heating and cooling by utilizing an airtight, double-walled system and an efficient heat-recovery ventilation unit that pumps in a constant flow of fresh, filtered air.
"I like the idea of passive construction. It's green and cheaper for residents, so I'm really happy for that part of it," said Richman.
The project was first brought to town planners in 2016. But in September 2016, council voted not to support an iteration of the project that would have held the same number of units but over five different buildings. The project was largely opposed on the grounds that it did not fit in with the form and character of the surrounding neighbourhood.
This time around, the reaction was much more positive. "I think it's a very attractive building that I hope we'll see it in a couple of years," said VOP Councillor Ted Craddock.
There were, however, concerns voiced by councillors Jennie Helmer and James Linklater. Helmer expressed concern over the lack of a laneway behind the buildings.
"It seems like a short-sighted thing not to have a rear entry on a building. If there is a fire on the rear of the building, they have to be able to access it," she said.
VOP Fire Chief Robert Grossman raised a similar point in comments included in the council presentation, though he was not on hand to comment, something Linklater lamented.
Senior VOP planner Lisa Pedrini said there are other examples of buildings in town without rear vehicle access, naming the Pemberton Valley Lodge and Portage Station next door as two examples.
Town planners are "very happy with how (the project is) evolving," she said, adding that they have spent a lot of time with the project proponent to get it right.
Steven Duke, executive vice president of Alture Properties, the developer behind the project, said that the extra planning that went into the project has led to a more interesting project. "We've gone back to the drawing boards a couple of times to satisfy the design review... And it's led us to a much more interesting design," said Duke.
One of the new features is a pull-out area located out front that will be used for moving purposes and garbage pick up.
In response to the fire issues raised, Duke said that a fire hydrant will be placed in the rear of the building, sprinklers will be installed, and firefighters will be able to access the buildings from both sides with trucks and from the rear with ladders. He added that relevant parties would need to be satisfied in order to get the building permit to begin construction.
Demand for the project is strong, with approximately 300 people already on a waitlist for a unit. Though unable to speak in detail about prices, Duke said he expects units to start in the $300,000 range. "We're really thinking first-time buyers. That's who we've designed it for," he said.
With a number of projects underway, Pemberton is poised to grow. "Places like Pemberton haven't had a lot of new construction in a while, and there's definitely demand there," said Duke.