It was a day to mark 141 years of this country’s history, but
for Pemberton, it was also a day to commemorate the opening of a new gathering
place that the community has been awaiting for decades.
Hundreds of Pembertonians descended upon a grassy field July 1
to mark the opening of the Pemberton Community Centre, a facility that’s been
years in the making. The centre, which was funded by a $1.1333 million grant
from the Canada-B.C. Infrastructure program, comes after the last community
centre burnt down in 1980.
“This building will fast become the heart of this town,” said
Mayor Jordan Sturdy. “We’ve been waiting since the early ’80s for a new
community hall, this building is not necessarily going to solve all of our
problems, but it’s a great building and I think it’s going to serve us well.”
The Village of Pemberton (VOP) and the Squamish Lillooet
Regional District (SLRD) first applied for funding from the infrastructure
program in 2001 and the project broke ground on Aug. 26, 2006. Since then a two
storey, 22,000 sq. ft. facility has been built with a library, fitness centre
and recreational dry floor space. It also has activity rooms and an underground
The centre also has a “Great Hall” with large windows on its
east side that, when opened, can create an archway onto a patio area and a
landscaped outdoor amphitheatre, according to the Village of Pemberton website.
Susie Gimse, a director with the SLRD, a body that handles some
regional and community services for Pemberton, said that every activity room
and reading space in the building has a window looking out at the scenery
surrounding the village.
“It’s been a long time coming for this moment,” she said. “A
lot of planning and hard work went into designing the facility.”
The facility has been built with a number of features to help
reduce its carbon footprint. They include low emittance (Low-E) windows, which
will help keep out UV rays in the summer and insulate the building’s heat in
the winter. It also has geothermal heating, a feature that draws on the Earth’s
heat in order to keep a space warm.
The community centre has also made use of paints with low
“volatile organic compounds”, which have fewer toxins than other paints and can
allow for safer indoor air quality.
The centre’s opening was also marked by a prayer from Elder
Mary James of the Mount Currie band of the Lil’wat Nation, as well as a series
of songs and dances from the Iswalh dance group, also from the Lil’wat Nation.
Sturdy and Gimse, surrounded by Lil’wat members, together cut a red ribbon to officially open the centre. Sturdy later joined the Iswalh dance group for a so-called “200 pound dance.”