Pemberton's plan may pull off the gas By Oona Woods Pemberton's Official Community Plan is on the final leg of its re-working marathon. Council is expecting the draft copy of its new OCP back from the planning department in the next few weeks. This will be the first new draft, after going through the public review process late last year. In 1997 it became apparent that Pemberton, Whistler's older sibling, was going a little development crazy. The growth rate had reached 70 per cent and 50 per cent of the residents of the area had arrived within the previous five years. Council decided it needed to re-think its OCP. The original plan was written back in 1994. Mayor Cathy McLeod says she won't speculate on what will be in the document when it returns. "The last OCP had a few lines in it that talked about 'promoting growth'. I'd hazard a guess there will be no more lines like that. I'd say it may be more about working towards sustainability." Two weeks ago council was presented with a petition signed by approximately 125 area residents calling for a slowing down of growth in Pemberton. "We were aware that the petition was in the loop," says McLeod. "It was reflecting a lot of the discomfort the whole community has had around the rapid pace of growth." The petition said: "In an effort to save our small-town way of life, we propose that the Village of Pemberton and SLRD adopt a by-law and amend the official community plan to limit the issuing of building permits for new residences to a number that will accommodate a 0-5 per cent annual population growth in Pemberton and area for a 20 kilometre radius." Councillor Bruce MacFayden took issue with the demographics of the people that signed it. "A lot of the people that signed it are from outside of the village, or are renting, or are people that have moved up from Whistler... I think that if we're going to start building fences they should be fences to keep the community safe and stable, not to keep people out. We're all in this together." MacFayden also says that it is impossible to control the market forces that spur on development. "In a democratic system there's no way you can limit growth. You can restrict building permits and create onerous bylaws but if a person owns property that's zoned and that person wishes to develop, and they comply with the bylaws, how can we refuse?" MacFayden says it is down to what is economically viable. "As long as Pemberton is less expensive than Whistler people will come here. When they cease to do that they (the properties) won't sell. That's the free enterprise system we live under." McLeod feels that there has already been a down shift in the property market. "(The houses) are not selling as rapidly as they used to. Things have eased out here, just like it has in Whistler. The product out there is exceeding the demand. Sometimes market forces take care of it also."