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Pemberton cool to sports festival

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Peter Chrzanowski wants to show Pemberton to the world, but he's having a heck of a time getting support from local government.

An adventure filmmaker by trade, Chrzanowski is planning the Pemberton World Mountain Sports Festival for May 21 to 29 of this year. He's designing it as a "grass roots event" for a community of mountain enthusiasts to gather and share their love of outdoor sports.

"The world's looking at the whole area right now because of the Olympics so I thought you've got to do something with it," he said. "The party's over and (it's time to) do a sustainable festival that will grow over 20 years and launching it now is a good time because everyone's looking at us."

Chrzanowski is planning the festival as a kind of umbrella event for various others that are already being organized independently. People are expected to come, pay for their own food and camping and enjoy the events that Pemberton has to offer.

There's already an Accuracy Landing Competition for paragliding planned for May 22 to 24 and a ski mountaineering trip planned for the same period that will start at Spearhead Glacier and end at the Pemberton Airport.

On top of that, Chrzanowski hopes to see salsa dancing, DJs and dance nights become a part of the festival, which he believes can host 2,500 people over its nine-day period.

"I'm saying 2,500 simply because that long weekend will see that many people on the weekend anyway in Pemberton," he said. "I'm not saying I'm actually drawing 2,500, but long weekends in Pemberton are very popular as it is, historically, but they never organize it under one umbrella or under one event."

Chrzanowski first pitched his festival to the Village of Pemberton at a council meeting in January. He requested council's support along with a letter to bring a delegation from Peru to attend the festival. Council responded politely but didn't pass a motion of support for the event.

Pemberton later received correspondence from the director of Peru's INKAFEST Mountain and Environmental Film Festival requesting that council send him a formal letter of invitation to visit Pemberton as part of the sports festival. He said a formal invitation would be required to facilitate financing of the trip as well as visa applications by the director and a colleague.

Council, however, decided against making the invitation unless it was certain the event would take place.

Sheena Fraser, the village's manager of administrative services, said she's not quite clear on where Chrzanowski is planning to hold the festival but added it's likely that many of its events would take place in the jurisdiction of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and he should thus go to them for the proper approvals.

"There's a lot of uncertainty around the event, the process and what the expectations on the part of the village would be," she said. "If you wanted to use a facility or space within the Village of Pemberton, he'd need to show what he wanted to do about port-a-potties, garbage pickup, traffic management, parking, all that stuff that would go along with it."

Chrzanowski, however, is clear in his drive to make this festival a reality. He has a website up at www.pembertongames.com and has interest from people involved in sports like paragliding and mountain biking. He thinks the festival can be a success and that it'll hardly cost a thing to put together.

"I don't really see what there is to pay for right now," he said in an interview. "It's inviting people to come here and individual events. It's up to the people to charge for their events, everybody pays their camping fees or for their groceries.

"It's welcome to Pemberton and enjoy the outdoors."

 

 

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