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Pemberton seeks input for OCP



Pemberton is revising its community plan and it wants your input on where it should go next.

The Village of Pemberton is in the process of reviewing its Official Community Plan (OCP), a document that will provide a long-term vision for how the community develops. Section 875 of B.C.'s Local Government Act states that OCP's contain objectives and policies to guide land use decisions.

An OCP must also conform with principles stated in Section 849, the portion of the Act that deals with Regional Growth Strategies. Communities are asked to avoid urban sprawl, minimize the use of automobiles and ensure there's adequate and affordable housing, among other things.

The Village of Pemberton is seeking extensive public input before it ratifies its new plan and it's asking the help of citizens as part of the "Speak Up Pemberton!" sessions.

Instead of holding a single community meeting Pemberton is asking residents to give up their homes, businesses, meeting rooms and other locations to facilitate 20 to 30 consultation sessions between Jan. 18 and 25. The goal, said Development Services Manager Caroline Lamont, is to give the community an opportunity to be heard.

"Typically OCPs have a life of five years before they get reviewed, so we're over that," she said. "It needs to be current with the legislation now. The legislation, there's been some changes. I think the OCP's about eight years old.

"There's a lot of things that have happened in the community, certain directions, background studies, as well as incorporating concepts such as sustainability or the more social, economic, environmental and cultural aspects of our community, integrating them together."

The Village of Pemberton has seen many changes since it last updated its OCP. The current plan was adopted in 1999 and there were amendments in 2000 and 2003. Since then it has seen an annual population growth of 18 per cent and a huge increase in the number of dwellings.

It has also attempted a boundary expansion that has been approved at the local government level but has yet to be ratified by the provincial government. Provincial ministers have indicated to Pemberton that it should wait until the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District resolves the issues it's facing over implementation of the Regional Growth Strategy.

Other changes the OCP hopes to accommodate include a density bonusing law, which some local politicians hope can be implemented instead of the current Community Amenity Charge, a fee leveled on developers for amenities that has never produced any revenue for the village.

"There's just been a series of changes over the years that we need to get in," Lamont said. "One of the questions for the community is we would like more certainty in our zoning... it creates more certainty for residents so they know what land uses are coming along.

"It's actually a community discussion, not a one-off."

Residents can sign up for sessions by volunteering to host such forums themselves and inviting friends to join in. You can also work with a community organization to host one.

A community notice states that the village is looking for input on specific areas like future growth, land use along the Highway 99 Gateway, areas for new parks and trail connections and lands for environmental preservation. Each session is expected to last from one to two hours.



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