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Pemberton defers judgment on Signal Hill contributions

Neighbourhood hinges on Building Canada grant



The Signal Hill neighbourhood has yet another hurdle to pass as the Village of Pemberton awaits word from the federal government on the results of a Building Canada grant application.

Pemberton developers Bruce van Mook and Garth Phare are looking to situate a massive new neighbourhood in three components near Pemberton's town centre. The developers are aiming to build 462 units comprised of village homes, townhomes and condominiums.

The proposal sat at third reading at a July 21 council meeting as councillors and staff discussed various kinks that need to be worked out before the neighbourhood can be built.

Discussion was stimulated by a staff recommendation to give the developers credit for a Community Amenity charge that's meant to help offset the impacts of such a development on public facilities, services and amenities.

Normally the charge would cost the developers $1,835,055, but van Mook and Phare may get credit for the charge because they've agreed to pay a balance for improvements to a dyke on the property.

Currently the dyke, which is situated along the north-east side of Pemberton Creek, doesn't meet safety standards needed to protect village residents. The village has thus applied for a Building Canada grant to pay for 90 per cent of required repairs and the developers have agreed to pay the remaining 10 per cent - about $120,000.

The dyke repairs touched off some debate at the meeting, with Councillor Susie Gimse remarking that she's concerned about the precedent council could be setting if it allows the developers to help pay for the dyke upgrades and get credit towards the community amenity charge.

"What would happen in the event that we're not successful with the Build Canada application and we determine that the 10 per cent will come out of the amenity charge?" she asked. "Are we setting precedent, are we saying the whole 100 per cent cost would then be in lieu of the amenity charge?"

Caroline Lamont, Manager of Development Services for the village then cited a report in which she noted that if the Building Canada grant wasn't successful then the developers would have to come back to council to find new solutions for how to upgrade the dyke.

Gimse later brought up the issue of precedent again, asking how other developments have contributed to dyke upgrades and saying that council should be consistent in asking for such contributions from developers.

"I'm afraid that if we do come back comfortable with waiving the 10 per cent and the grant is not forthcoming, we could set a serious precedent that could create some problems for us. That was not my concern, not the amount of money, but just how it's addressed through this."

The dyke improvements were just one part of a two-part resolution in which staff also asked council to give the developers credit towards a development cost charge, which without any credit could cost Signal Hill's proponents $1,905,611.

The developers are open to oversizing a sewage line between the Signal Hill lands and a pump station in order to accommodate future development and as a result they hope to get credit towards the cost charge.

But village staff disagree, saying in a report to council that a village engineer indicated that most developments are responsible for those kinds of upgrades. They therefore recommend that the developers not get a credit towards the development cost charge unless the amount to make those upgrades proves substantial.

Council ultimately agreed to move through third reading a bylaw that would allow Signal Hill to develop on its desired property but held judgment on the staff recommendations until it hears about the results of its Building Canada grant application.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy noted at a July 7 council meeting that Building Canada Fund grant announcements have been delayed until late August or early September.