With community feedback already in place, the Village of
Pemberton is now awaiting comments from local governments about the proposal to
expand the village’s boundaries.
The proposal is currently in its consultation and analysis
phase and must receive feedback from local governments and service providers,
according to an interim report filed to Pemberton council on Aug. 12.
Among local governments, the VOP requires an official response
from the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and the Lil’wat Nation before it
can move to the next stage of implementation.
The report says the SLRD has a responsibility to identify any
financial impacts on its services — it has thus engaged a consultant from
Sussex Consultants Ltd. to review the boundary expansion from a financial
Paul Edgington, chief administrative officer of the SLRD, said
in an interview that he expects to have a report on the boundary expansion at
the district’s board meeting in September.
“What we would have to look at is the impact on any services
that Electoral Area C participates in that would have a funding component,” he
said. “Things that are done on behalf of Electoral Area C and the Village of
Pemberton, things that are done in conjunction with some of the other electoral
areas, and just look at what the impacts may or may not be.”
The SLRD oversees services for a variety of electoral areas
that have been divided into Areas A, B, C and D.
The current proposal could see the Village of Pemberton
incorporate 20 areas that lie within Electoral Area C — those areas
include the Rutherford Creek Power Plant on Highway 99; properties located
along Airport Road between Highway 99 and the Pemberton Airport; and the
Pemberton Creek watershed, a location the VOP is considering for a power plant.
All told, the boundary expansion could bring around $200,000 in
annual tax revenue to what has long been called a “tax-poor” community.
Infrastructure projects such as the new groundwater supply
well, for example, have had to rely on federal and provincial funding for
construction — that reliance could be alleviated if the VOP collects more
Mayor Jordan Sturdy stressed in an interview that the SLRD will
not lose any tax money if the VOP incorporates properties from Electoral Area
C. He explained that residents of those areas currently pay the rural property
tax to the province, and not the SLRD, which receives revenues from tax bills
for the services it provides.
“It’s just simply a transfer on where the money would be coming
from,” Sturdy said. “The rural property tax is the money that goes to the
province, and it never comes back, whereas in a municipality that rural property
tax would be a village property tax, and that would be collected by the village
and retained by the village and spent for the benefit of the community.”
The Lil’wat Nation, meanwhile, claims traditional title over
the lands mentioned in the proposal, and thus must be consulted about the VOP’s
expansions on its territory.
In a letter dated July 22, the Mount Currie Band of the Lil’wat
Nation wrote to the Ministry of Community Development reminding the province
that it is under a legal obligation to consult with them and “accommodate the
aboriginal title and rights of the Lil’wat Nation” when considering potential
infringement on its territory.
Sturdy said the VOP will discuss the proposal with the Lil’wat
Nation in a meeting on Sept. 2, but he could not elaborate on any concerns the
Lil’wat may have with the proposal.
“We will be meeting with them over the next couple of weeks to
better understand their concerns and answer questions,” he said, adding that
John Steil from the Vancouver office of Stantec Consulting Ltd. will deliver
the same presentation in Mount Currie that he gave at a Pemberton council
meeting on Aug. 12.
It was at that meeting that Steil first presented the boundary
expansion interim report, which was released to the public the following week.
Once consultations are finished, the next step in expanding
Pemberton’s boundaries is for Steil to prepare a final report.
From there, Pemberton council will decide whether or not to
expand its boundaries. If it decides to move forward with the expansion, Steil
will apply to the Ministry of Community Development.
Once that happens the ministry reviews the application, which
is then sent to the provincial cabinet to resolve any outstanding issues. If
there are no more issues, the cabinet can then adopt a resolution through an
order-in-council and approve the boundary expansion.
Steil expects that the proposal will receive all necessary feedback by the end of September and that council will make a decision about boundary expansion in October.