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Pemberton mayor mum on boundary expansion



One year, five months.

That's how long it's been since residents of the Village of Pemberton voted to incorporate 20 new areas that lie within Electoral Area C of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District. Those areas include the Rutherford Creek Power Plant; the Hillside area; and residential properties located along Airport Road between Highway 99 and the Pemberton Airport.

The village sold it as a way to bring more tax revenue into the local government, given that residents of Area C pay taxes to the province despite receiving services from the village. Estimates showed the expansion bringing $180,000 of new tax revenue to Pemberton coffers; $135,000 coming from the Rutherford Creek plant alone. It was also intended as a way to have more say over the area's future.

In November 2008, at the same time as a municipal election, 611 residents voted in favour of Pemberton incorporating those areas. The village forwarded the request to the Province of British Columbia, which has to approve the expansion in an Order-in-Council.

The province has yet to approve an Order-in-Council... and Pemberton still has yet to expand its boundaries.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy briefly addressed the issue at an April 20 council meeting. He and village administrator Daniel Sailland had a meeting with Bill Bennett, B.C.'s Minister of Community Development on April 15.

In his report Sturdy said he had a "good meeting" with the minister but noted that he "lacks information" about boundary expansion on a number of points. He wouldn't elaborate when asked to clarify during Question Period.

"I think I prefer to wait until the administrator has completed his report and we've assessed what steps we need to take in order to further the extension," Sturdy said, saying it was "premature" to comment on the meeting at this point and that the report would come back at the village's next meeting on May 4.

Sturdy, Sailland and Minister Bennett could have spoken about any number of things at the meeting but they're likely to have addressed the Regional Growth Strategy, the controversial policy framework meant to contain development within compact, sustainable communities throughout the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD).

Sturdy told Pique last May that the Ministry of Community Development wants the regional district to work out its issues around the strategy, which is now going to arbitration members to resolve their differences of opinion.

Squamish has raised alarms around the regional district about the degree of autonomy regarding land use decisions that will be possible under the Regional Growth Strategy.

Squamish mainly worries that amendments to the strategy to allow major developments could require the unanimous approval of all governments in the regional district, as well as all adjoining regional districts.

Sturdy worried at the time that efforts to expand Pemberton's boundaries would be stymied by the impasse over the Regional Growth Strategy.

"They just tied the two together," Sturdy said last May. "I believe that the Village of Pemberton and Area C's OCP's are in conformance with the RGS.

"So why this should be a problem at this point, it actually escapes me."