Pemberton's Village council is inviting the Chamber of Commerce to a Committee of the Whole meeting to discuss issues around economic activity in the valley.
The move comes after Paul Vacirca, a past-president of the Pemberton and District Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter to council for its April 19 meeting stating that Chamber directors were concerned about a "sharp downturn" in Pemberton's economy and wanted to meet with council to discuss actions it has taken to stimulate valley business.
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said at the meeting that the Village has been in dialogue with the Chamber and said the latter would like to bring its concerns to an Annual General Meeting, scheduled to take place on June 28, so that the community could discuss it as a whole.
Councillor Susie Gimse, while not endorsing the Chamber's recommendation to bring the discussion to the AGM, said the Village should nevertheless grant it an audience to discuss a "wide range of issues."
Councillor Ted Craddock also agreed, but he responded that there are plenty of actions the Village has taken in order to stimulate economic activity. He also said that an AGM is not the appropriate forum in which to sit through hours of discussion.
Among other things, Craddock said that the Village almost doubled its funding for the Chamber this year.
"I sat down the other night and started writing up some of the areas where council has worked in a positive way with the Chamber and the community," he said. "In ten minutes I got a page of stuff.
"As much as I look at the letter, maybe not quite as positively as what was maybe written, I think we have a good partnership with the Chamber and I'd rather deal with this sooner than later."
Council ultimately opted to forward an invitation to the Chamber and have staff report back with recommendations on a format for a broader discussion on economic initiatives in the Pemberton Valley.
Wedding decision continues to make waves
Two weeks after record attendance at a council meeting where operators of a bed and breakfast blasted council for denying them the ability to host weddings at their property Council received a letter from resident Janice Kennett, calling for a public forum to discuss issues around the application by Cedar View Estate for a Temporary Commercial Use Permit to allow weddings on the property when Village bylaws did not allow events to be held there.
Kennett said that Tzilachsh Lodge held events for years on property that lies within the Agricultural Land Reserve, an area where agriculture is a priority use. The fact that the lodge was allowed to operate events in previous years, she said, could open up the Village to legal action by Beau Craig, owner of Cedar View Estate.
However, the fact that the property is located on agricultural land isn't necessarily the issue in this case. It's that the owners have a business license to operate as a bed and breakfast and not as a venue for weddings, despite the fact they were allowed to put up a sign indicating that they could host such events there.
Gimse responded that staff put together a summary sheet on the issue that explains the Village's position on the issue.
The summary, available on the Village website at www.pemberton.ca , states that commercial eventing is not a permitted use under Cedar View Estate's zoning bylaw, which permits it to operate a bed and breakfast with no more than five guest rooms. Events are permitted at the property but only for guests staying in the accommodation.
Village taxes going up
Council also approved a bylaw that would see taxes go up two per cent.
Residential, recreational and farm property taxes are now at $2.0565 per $1,000 of assessed property value; utility taxes are at $12.3385 per $1,000 of assessed value; light industry is at $6.9917; and business taxes are now at $4.6271.
Councillor Ted Craddock pointed out that a one per cent tax increase raises about $10,000 from the community.
Vandalism costing taxpayers serious coin
In a discussion around Pemberton's five-year financial plan, Councillor Ted Craddock noted that the Village spent $18,000 on improvements of public infrastructure after incidents of vandalism.
Craddock said community members should be notifying appropriate authorities such as the RCMP and the Village know about vandalism in order to stem future incidents because as it stands, fixing property that's been hit by vandals ultimately comes out of the taxpayer's pockets.
"I think the community has to work with us on this," he said. "In 2010 we spent $18,000 on vandalism, the equivalent of two per cent tax increases.
"Let the town know, let the RCMP know if that continues to come up. I hate to come to the community every year and say we need to raise your taxes. That seems like a total waste of community money."