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Pemberton entertaining biggest subdivision ever

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The Village of Pemberton could soon approve a subdivision that will put 462 units on land adjacent to Signal Hill Elementary School — the biggest subdivision it’s ever had, if it goes through.

The new neighbourhood will have three components.

Glacier Creek Estates, also known as the “Wye lands,” will be located adjacent to Pemberton’s RCMP station as well as the fire hall and municipal hall. It will have 139 units in total and include a mix of townhomes, live/work units and condos. This component gets its name from its location near a glacier-fed creek.

Gateway Park, which will be located adjacent to the railway near the town centre, will have 222 units composed of a hotel, seniors’ centre, townhomes and condos.

Tiyata, the third component, will house the project’s primary residential component and have 1,010 units composed of village homes, townhomes and condos. The word “Tiyata” comes from the Lakota word meaning “at home.”

The project has been years in the making, according to Bruce van Mook, a partner in the project along with Pemberton resident and developer Garth Phare.

“About a year ago, Garth and I started talking about doing something on those lands to help with some affordability issues,” van Mook said. “Quite literally I think the conversation was about building a small apartment building that I could house staff in, and it sort of morphed from that.”

Following that conversation, the two of them met with BC Rail Properties and secured the opportunity to develop two parcels of land. From there they met with Don Nicolson, an architect who was working for BC Rail and who was the first LEDE-certified architect in Canada.

Once they started talking with Nicolson, they came up with the idea of having a master planned community.

“Rather than having three pieces of land broken up into kind of hodgepodge developments, we were able to look at a master planned environment,” van Mook said. “Adding our own thoughts and vision, and being able to articulate that to Don, he was able to articulate that into a fantastic plan that you see today.”

Now that the proposal has been filed with the VOP, it has to pass muster with several agencies, among them the Advisory Land Use Committee, the Pemberton Valley Trails Association, the Chamber of Commerce, School District 48 and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.

Once completed, van Mook expects that the project could bring about 1,000 bodies to the community, based on multiple bodies per residence.

The project comes just as the VOP has approved the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District’s Regional Growth Strategy (RGS), a vision that ensures development in and around the SLRD’s boundaries supports compact, sustainable communities.

Van Mook said the project already meets a lot of the RGS criteria because it’s located near the village centre and promotes a walkable community.

“I’m not an expert at the RGS, but I know the RGS speaks to compact communities and communities that are easily walkable, that don’t promote urban sprawl,” he said. “We’re very much, by the nature of where we are… (meeting) a lot of the RGS criteria or wishes.”

There’s a common belief in Pemberton that population will continue to grow significantly, if recent history is any indication. The 2001 census showed a population of 1,637 people in the Village of Pemberton, an increase of 91 per cent since 1996.

It therefore makes sense that homes such as those in this project be built in the community in anticipation of similar growth.

When asked what will happen to his project if population doesn’t keep growing as it has, van Mook said he would have to rethink the community, but he doesn’t seem to think that will happen.

“It’s the marketplace telling us (if) we’re not going to be able to sell everything,” he said. “If for some reason people don’t want to move to Pemberton, then yeah, we’d have to rethink it, but... it’s a lovely community with growth.”

Van Mook anticipates that homes will be in the ground by this time next year and that sales could start around the same time.

“If things go well in terms of the governance issues, then we would be legally allowed to start marketing and talking to people about commitments shortly after the municipality gives its blessing,” he said.

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