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Pemberton uses UBCM to tackle seniors housing, hydro lines



Seniors housing and hydro lines figured as big issues for Pemberton as Village officials met with provincial representatives at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities annual convention last week.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said he had formal meetings with officials from B.C. Hydro to tackle the issue of hydro lines in the Pemberton Valley. Power lines traverse the community on all sides and have become a sticking point for residents because they tower above the property adjacent to the community centre.

That property, located alongside Portage Road, is home to a horse-riding arena but the hydro lines now seep so low to the ground that it's unsafe for horses to trot there. Hydro finds it so unsafe that Pemberton can no longer hold its Equifest event on the property.

Sturdy hoped to change that but he hasn't gotten too far up to this point.

"We pointed out that in their last e-mail correspondence they had indicated that it was no longer safe to ride a horse under the power lines," he said in an interview. "We pointed out that this was not an acceptable situation and we would like to work with Hydro to ensure this is rectified.

"If it's unsafe to ride a horse under the power lines we have a problem there."

Fixing the power lines is an expensive endeavour. Raising them could cost about $100,000 and that involves putting three telephone poles in the middle of the riding arena - and that's money Pemberton just doesn't have. Burying the lines could cost even more.

Sturdy said Hydro officials offered to put up signs in the area to deter people from riding there but he told them that the village could probably take care of that.

Besides the issue of hydro lines, Sturdy said he spoke with B.C. Hydro officials about the Crown Corporation's works yard, which currently sits near Aster Street across from the prospective location for the new Sea to Sky Community Services Child Care Centre. The mayor hopes to convince Hydro to find another location for their yard.

"We're encouraging them to relocate to a location of more appropriate land use," he said. "I think we recognize over time it's not uncommon for Hydro to find themselves in an inappropriate location due to communities growing up around them.

"This community has grown up around it. We feel it's in our longer term interest to relocate it to a more appropriate location."

Sturdy also met with Rich Coleman, B.C.'s Minister of Housing and Social Development about a seniors' housing project that the ministry has promised to build in Pemberton. The project will see B.C. Housing put 18 units of seniors' housing at 7420 Flint Street as part of a commitment to build 1,000 units throughout the province.

The project has since hit a pothole, however, as Pemberton is being asked to spend over $100,000 to put structural fill on the property. Pemberton thus has to foot the bill for something it didn't request to begin with.

Sturdy said he talked to Coleman about challenges the community is facing but he emphasized how much Pemberton is committed to seeing the project come to fruition.

"(We were) looking for clarity or perhaps opportunity to look at how do we recover some of these funds, because housing is not something that is the responsibility of local governments," he said.

"We have a responsibility to ensure there's a range of housing options and we have the responsibility of ensuring we have appropriate zoning in place... but income-restricted housing, I don't think in our case it's necessarily completely our responsibility."