Red and yellow trees may be the surest signs of fall in Pemberton, but horses on the highway rank a close second.
As Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy told it at Tuesday's council meeting, fall has arrived with a vengeance as he has noticed as many as 60 horses traversing the highway between the Village and Mount Currie.
"They are back, bigger and better than ever," he said. "We have people stopping on the highway because it is a spectacular setting with wild horses running around. It's an excellent photo op, however, it's a very dangerous situation."
Every fall and winter, horses believed to come from Mount Currie traverse the highway to the Ravens Crest property, which they believe is their winter grazing grounds. In doing so they often come into contact with motorists, who at certain points cannot see them through fog or else can't slow down fast enough to avoid hitting them.
Last year two horses were killed on Halloween at around midnight on the road. Officers discovered a dead horse at the side of the road and another injured, "thrashing away" according to a witness at the scene. RCMP members attending shot it at the scene.
Prior to that, in February two horses were killed in collisions with vehicles. One horse was killed on impact and another was hit by a vehicle when the driver turned to offer help.
Sturdy is especially concerned this year because the Ravens Crest property is now within the Village's jurisdiction after a boundary expansion that was completed earlier this year.
"The last five years or more this has been an ongoing problem, we have been able to wash our hands of it because it was not in our jurisdiction," he said.
"There's an opportunity to create a district pound whereby the animals could be herded into an enclosure, notice posted, they're fed for I think ten days and maintained for ten days and if their owners can be proven and are notified, they have an opportunity to come back.
"If there's no proof or nobody comes forward, then the animals can be sold or sent to auction."
Sturdy added that there's a meeting on October 24 between the RCMP, the Stl'atl'imx Tribal Police and the Mount Currie Band, as well as representatives from some ministries to look at ways to mitigate any potential collisions between motorists and horses.
Pemberton council pushes through Ravens Crest third reading
The Ravens Crest neighbourhood took another step towards being realized Tuesday as council unanimously voted to give third reading to a bylaw that would rezone parts of the Hillside property as a residential zone.
The rezoning allows the developers to build both single-family dwellings and townhouses on the property, and also permits the operation of businesses such as bed and breakfasts and the construction of accessory suites.
The rezoning, which had a public hearing last week, has been the focus of some controversy from Pembertonians who are reticent about development, but councillors noted at the council meeting that people came out to support the development at the public hearing.
Councillor Susie Gimse pointed out that Pemberton has long known it intended to have development on the Hillside.
"I think it's important that we understand that this really started a long time ago," she said. "We've discussed this here at the council table over time and I'm not sure that recognition is still there in the community.
"We really did go through an extensive process of determining the future growth lands, we understood that we did have restrictions and restraints to growth, we needed to look at what was available. We did identify those lands as the future growth area for the community as a whole."