The Village of Pemberton has pushed through a bylaw with very little public opposition that will set aside certain areas of its downtown core for temporary uses during the 2010 Olympics.
The bylaw was passed at a council meeting on May 20 after a public hearing scheduled for 8 a.m. the same day drew no responses from the public, according to Mayor Jordan Sturdy.
“I was sort of surprised myself,” he said. “There wasn’t any submissions or anybody speaking publicly on it… There was really no comment from the public at all.”
The bylaw, which amends zoning bylaw No. 466, adds provisions to four commercial zones that will allow council to consider temporary commercial or industrial permits for those areas for uses specifically related to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The affected commercial zones include C-1, Pemberton’s downtown core, which includes areas west of the railway and along Prospect Street. Other areas that may be used during the Olympics include the C-2 area, which includes tourist-commercial space, as well as the C-3 area, which includes commercial areas along Portage Road.
The purpose behind the bylaw amendment is to set aside areas where groups and individuals can make applications for temporary use, though the Village of Pemberton is not yet certain what those uses will be, according to Sturdy.
“If and when a use comes forward, it would go to council for consideration and then we may refer that out to stakeholders, interest groups and neighbours,” he said. “We simply wanted to make it clear to the business community that there is a mechanism in place, because it's required actually by statute, for us to consider putting forward a temporary use, then we have to have that temporary use bylaw in place.”
Though Sturdy could not say how the land would be used during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, he suggested that it could be anything from a parking lot to a hotel.
“It's at this point undetermined, but there is empty land in the village that could well find a temporary use wanting to locate on those properties,” he said. “We want to be in a position to be able to consider those.”
Councillor Mark Blundell echoed Sturdy’s statements that it is not yet known how the areas will be used, but said they could provide space for accommodation and other uses.
“I think that the bylaw is going to address some of the temporary things that we need to do in our community,” Blundell said. “We've had a lot of interest in temporary housing, there could be some security issues as far as putting up temporary tent sites and that type of thing, that's probably most of it right there.”
When asked why no one from the community made presentations at the hearing, Sturdy said the public is generally supportive of the bylaw and the chance to provide temporary space for the 2010 Games.
“I was sort of surprised myself,” he said. “We're not taking any particular action other than supplying the village with some flexibility, and there'll be a process involved, as I explained, in order to actually have any kind of temporary use approved, it would still have to go through a public process.”
Blundell, meanwhile, said the timing of the meeting could have had an effect on its sparse attendance.
“Early morning meetings don't attract too many people,” he said, adding that Pemberton is very supportive of the Olympics.