News » Whistler

Pemberton looks to diversify economy via resort development



Proposed hotel will help boost area’s fledgling tourism industry

A $14-million resort hotel proposed for Pemberton is a welcome development, says the village’s mayor and the local chamber of commerce president.

"We look forward to any type of development," Mayor Elinor Warner told Pique Newsmagazine . "It will certainly help diversify our economy and boost tax revenues."

"Any resort development is favourable for the community," added chamber of commerce president Mark Blundell.

Swissreal Investments Ltd. has plans for a 55,000 square-foot, 76-unit strata-titled hotel and a 3,500 square-foot pub. The two buildings, which will be located on Highway 99 near the Pemberton Airport, are scheduled to be ready by late 2002.

The Vancouver-based company pointed to the 2010 Olympic bid and B.C.’s new business-oriented government as reasons behind their decision to develop the resort in Pemberton.

"The land is already zoned for this type of development," said Warner. "It will, without a doubt, provide more accommodation and services for visitors."

But Warner said the company has yet to present any firm plans to village council. The proposal then needs to be approved by the village’s design review committee.

The Pemberton area could also be the site of a couple of other resort developments. Venture Pacific Development Corp. of Vancouver has plans for a 173-acre resort complex on the banks of the Lillooet River north of the village, while another development has been proposed for Highway 99 across from One Mile Lake.

Warner said resort development fits in with Pemberton’s Official Community Plan and its vision for the future.

"There is no question the area needs more tourist accommodation," said Blundell, who is also a village councillor. "It will keep more people in town and increase business."

Pemberton is currently waiting for tens of thousands of dollars in "gateway community" funding from the provincial government to help develop the area’s tourism potential. The region’s economy has traditionally been based on forestry and agriculture.

According to Warner, Pemberton village council will be meeting next week for preliminary discussions about possibly expanding the village’s boundaries to include any future development in the area.

"We’ll have to weigh the pros and cons very carefully to make sure there is some benefit for the community," she said, noting that the area’s resources, jobs and potential income are being shipped elsewhere.

Warner used the example of timber logged in the area that is being trucked south to mills in Squamish.

"That’s unfortunate," she said. "There needs to be a balance."