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Olympic transportation issues concern Pemberton, Mt. Currie

Not enough buses, more traffic expected over the Duffey during Games



The councils of Pemberton and Mount Currie want more buses connecting their communities with Whistler during the Olympics.

"What is a concern is the frequency of buses to get Pemberton and Mount Currie residents into Whistler to see events or go to work," Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said at a marathon joint meeting of the two councils Tuesday. "We're concerned about those residents, the number of trips that are being planned for, plus any visitors staying here."

At the suggestion of Pemberton Councillor Al LeBlanc, the councils unanimously passed a resolution to take their concerns to the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC) and B.C. Transit.

But buses aren't the only Olympic transportation concern of the communities. Traffic coming from the north over the Duffey Lake Road is also an issue.

Sturdy said that VANOC and B.C. Transit are not expecting additional traffic on the road but councillors at the meeting were skeptical of that claim.

Staff Sgt. Marshall Seniuk with the Stl'atl'imx Tribal Police said there are additional concerns about the Duffey now because it's been recently repaved and is easier to drive. Mount Currie Chief Leonard Andrew said his community doesn't want additional traffic.

"We're sort of in the back door as far as the Olympics are concerned," he said. "I'm happy to deal with our concerns, obviously, we're only half an hour away from Whistler."

Other items discussed at the meeting included the Winds of Change committee, which has experienced a kind of re-birth in recent weeks. A community-to-community forum held Oct. 13 rejuvenated interest in the committee that was formed to tackle issues related to drug and alcohol consumption in Pemberton and Mount Currie.

Village Administrator Lori Pilon and Sheldon Tetreault, formerly the administrator of the Mount Currie Band, together delivered a report that recommended each council contribute $5,000 to fund the committee's activities. One of the criticisms of the committee is that it's never had any funding attached to it and could require a committed staff member.

Both councils agreed to contribute the money but are more likely to allocate the funding in next year's budget. Mount Currie Administrator Daniel Sailland said this year is a tight one for the band with the Olympics trimming away at its budget. He did, however, say it's possible to contribute $5,000 on an ongoing basis.

The councils also agreed to request the same amount from the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, giving the committee a possible yearly contribution of $15,000. The councils also appointed two new representatives to the committee: N'Quatqua member Rebecca Barley has been appointed to represent the Sea to Sky School District and Tanya Richman has been appointed to focus on mental health.

Mount Currie Councillor Vaughan Gabriel recommended that a representative from the Xit'olacw Community School also be appointed.

"We need to get them on board," he said. "Right now we're having a lot of youth issues... we need to get the school board or administrator of the school to be at these meetings."

The councils agreed, passing a motion to appoint representatives from the school district, the community school and someone to focus on mental health.

In the midst of discussions on Winds of Change, Mount Currie Councillor Maxine Bruce expressed sincere appreciation for the co-operation that comes out of joint council meetings, but she feels there's a need for more participation at each other's community events.

"I celebrate these evenings when we come to these meetings," she said. "On Canada Day this year we did not come to Pemberton to celebrate Canada Day with the Village of Pemberton. On other occasions we need to be visible within our communities.

"I think we see us all in Pemberton more often, we have our big store at the Xit'olacw community, I see non-native people shopping there too, but how can we build on our presence even further? That's something I think is very meaningful to the everyday person."

Sturdy suggested that the communities share each other's event calendars.