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Pemberton defers water bylaw vote

Negotiations continuing over billing disagreement

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Pemberton Council has deferred the fourth and final reading of its proposed Service Termination Bylaw No. 717, 2012, which would allow it to terminate the longstanding arrangement to supply bulk water to Pemberton North, in Area C of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD).

The vote, originally scheduled to take place at the council meeting of Dec. 18, will be revisited at the Jan. 22 council meeting.

Council also directed Mayor Jordan Sturdy and the Village's CAO, Daniel Sailland, to meet with SLRD CAO Lynda Flynn and new SLRD chair Patricia Heintzman in early January to discuss and identify a framework for negotiations, issue identification, and frame possible solutions.

At its own meeting on Dec. 17, the SLRD board had officially requested that the Village of Pemberton (VOP) defer their adoption of the bylaw for a minimum of four months in order to allow effective negotiations, with the idea of completing negotiations by April 30, 2013.

"As you can imagine, this is a very disappointing and surprising turn of events to the SLRD and extremely concerning to the citizens who rely on this water service in the Pemberton North area," Heintzman wrote in a letter to the VOP dated Dec. 10.

Pemberton documents cited the $448,938.19 in outstanding and unpaid fees owed to the VOP by the SLRD as of Sept. 30, 2012 "are increasing over time and represent a significant and increasing operational and fiscal risk," according to VOP documents.

The bylaw would provide a mechanism which would allow formal notice to be given to the SLRD that via the Community Charter the VOP will be able to legally discontinue the service because of unpaid fees. This could come into effect on Dec. 31, 2013, if no agreement is reached by Nov. 30, 2013.

The VOP has supplied water to Pemberton North since 1990.

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