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Pemberton restricts office space in industrial park

Majority of council wants to concentrate business in downtown core



The Village of Pemberton moved to take office and professional uses out of its industrial park last week after striking those uses from proposed bylaw amendments.

Bylaw 609, 2008, which would amend the VOP’s Official Community Plan, stated at second reading that offices should be permitted in the park to allow for a “mix of business activity” in the site located east of the Village of Pemberton.

Bylaw 610, 2008, meanwhile, which would amend Zoning Bylaw No. 466, called for a variety of uses in the park including business and professional offices, so long as they didn’t rely on a “continuous flow of customers” to generate business.

A sub-section of that bylaw also stated that medical, dental, real estate, accounting or other offices relying on a consistent flow of clients should not be located in the industrial zone.

The bylaws ultimately passed second reading, but without the provisions that would allow office and professional use.

Michael Rosen, a planning consultant with the Village of Pemberton, said the wording about a “continuous flow of customers” created problems in the bylaw because it could be interpreted any number of ways, despite the fact that that’s the wording used in a bylaw in the District of Squamish.

“That’s a very difficult clause for a business license inspector… to actually interpret,” Rosen said. “My gut feeling is that that’s going to create a very, very difficult clause for staff to work with because there’s a judgment call that needs to be there.”

VOP staff ultimately recommended that council strike that wording from Bylaw 610, along with the professional and office space components of both bylaws, according to an Aug. 12 memo.

That recommendation prompted a lengthy discussion among councillors that saw all but two support the staff recommendation.

Mayor Jordan Sturdy and Councillor David MacKenzie were the lone voices opposing the recommendation.

MacKenzie, the more vocal of the two, said council isn’t listening to constituents who want to have office space in the industrial park.

“I haven’t heard anyone outside of council opposed to office use,” he said. “I think that the business community has made it pretty clear, the industrial park owners have made it pretty clear as well and I don’t understand why we’re not following the direction of what their wishes are.”

MacKenzie also wondered whether the VOP would be evicting companies that have offices in the industrial park already.

Councillor Kirsten McLeod said she hopes more industrial businesses will move to Pemberton in the future, but added that they’ll need a location to move to.