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Pemberton OCP input raises concerns about alcoholism



Clear the drunks out of downtown!

That's one of several messages that Pembertonians have sent to the village as feedback for a review of the Official Community Plan (OCP). Though just one of numerous recommendations, it rang out loud and clear in a compendium of comments that the Village has collected from community feedback.

Speak Up Pemberton! was a series of tabletop sessions that the Village of Pemberton asked residents to take on in order to gather feedback for the OCP review. It asked Pembertonians to hold consultative sessions in their own homes with directed questions and send their answers back to the village afterward.

The Speak Up Workbook set out a number of values that are included in a draft OCP and help set the community's social, economic and environmental priorities. They include treating the community as a habitat; nurturing the local economy; valuing everyone within that community; and recognizing the community's roots.

The first question asks respondents to identify values that aren't captured in the OCP... and an unidentified participant at one session says it's "not with community values to have drunks wandering the streets in public."

The concerns may not be without merit. Pemberton does, indeed, have a number of people constantly walking around the downtown area who appear to be intoxicated. They hang around the liquor store attached to the Pemberton Hotel; in the gazebo at Pioneer Park; along the railroad tracks that separate the downtown from the Pony Espresso parking lot; and can often be seen stumbling along Portage Road.

The concern shows up again in response to the second question on the survey, which asks respondents to note the OCP's Community Planning Directions and comment on whether anything is missing. Again, a respondent at the same session writes that the "only true park is Pioneer (Park) and the drunks scare residents away. Pioneer has amazing potential, let's reclaim."

It then shows up once more in response to a question about identifying any parks or open space improvements that Pemberton ought to take on in the future. A respondent at the same session once more wrote, "We have no true parks. Please clean up Pioneer, put in some children's playground and kick out the drunks."

Caroline Lamont, manager of administrative services for the Village of Pemberton said in an e-mailed response that the OCP isn't an enforcement tool but is meant to guide municipal planning and land use management decisions.

"The draft OCP includes certain values related to our community notably: in our community, all are valued. We honour diversity and seek to provide a place to live, work and play that is inclusive, healthy and safe for all," she wrote in her response.

Lamont went on to say that the OCP is looking to include the work of groups or initiatives such as the Winds of Change and community facility/parks planning to guide the design of downtown, public spaces, parks and neighbourhoods.

"Stay tuned as the OCP input develops into a tangible policy, land use and action-oriented document," she wrote.