The Village of Pemberton saw a rare packed house at Tuesday night's council meeting as property owners clashed over the ability to hold large events on an agricultural property.
Beau Craig, the owner of Cedar View Estate, a bed and breakfast located at 1340 Collins Road, delivered a presentation before council in response to its decision to deny him zoning for Temporary Use for Purposes of Commercial Eventing.
The March 15 council meeting saw lawmakers deny first and second reading to Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 658, 2011, which if passed would have allowed Cedar View Estate to operate as a commercial event venue and thus host events like weddings. The property is currently zoned to operate as a bed and breakfast.
Councillor Craddock opposed the rezoning at the time because he was concerned about events infringing on a neighbour's enjoyment of peace and quiet on their own property. Councillor Al LeBlanc tried to send the zoning to a public hearing so that people would get a chance to speak but the zoning died at council because no one would second it when it was moved.
Craig asked at the time that three weddings being held at Cedar View Estate be permitted to take place this summer over concerns that they could not find new locations and that Pemberton businesses would lose out on tens of thousands of dollars if they were not allowed to go forward.
In a strongly-worded presentation before council, Craig said, among other things, that he would not forget council's decision when the Village goes to the polls in November.
"Both our business license and our sign application were approved without a hint of a problem," he said. "To come back to us and say we're in violation of zoning bylaws, we have to shut down operations immediately, is not only shocking, it is completely unreasonable."
Craig also noted that Mayor Jordan Sturdy and Councillor Lisa Ames excused themselves from the meeting because of a perceived conflict of interest.
Craig suggested that Councillor Susie Gimse, who is also director for Area C on the board of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, should also have excused herself because an Area C resident had complained about weddings taking place on the property.
Craig's presentation was followed immediately by a delegation by Jack Reynolds, an Area C resident who complained about noise emanating from Cedar View Estate during a wedding.
"The neighbours who have spoken to me object for various but somewhat similar reasons," he said. "Without going into it in depth, there is the noise. That's what started it all and that's what prompted the first calls to me from other neighbours. The noise was not only into the late hours of the evening, but into the early hours of the morning."
Craddock later moved a motion that council deny the zoning. It passed with the exception of LeBlanc, who stated that the Village ought to nurture any business within the community.
"I would hope that there would have been some sort of collaboration," he said. "I think that other areas, other places that hold these events are going to be under the spotlight. Unfortunately we just opened a big can of worms."
Human rights tribunal hearing to take place May 9
In his Mayor's report, Sturdy stated that the Village of Pemberton would be going before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal on May 9 in connection with a complaint by a former councillor and volunteer firefighter who claims he was discriminated against by the fire department.
David MacKenzie, who is also a former mayoral candidate, brought his complaint against the Village on June 9, 2009 over comments by Fire Chief Russell Mack in a November 2008 story in Pique Newsmagazine that allegedly "maligned his character."
That story actually concerned a previous complaint that MacKenzie filed against the Village, alleging while serving as a volunteer firefighter that he was passed over for an officer's position because he is gay.
Sturdy noted that this week marked the "fourth or fifth" time that MacKenzie obtained a postponement.
Pemberton may get new bus in summer pilot project
Pemberton may be getting some additional bus service this summer as part of a pilot project.
Sturdy said the Village is considering a project for additional service in July and August that would see the Squamish Commuter travel to Whistler and then on to Pemberton, leaving Whistler at 11 p.m. at night.
All the parties to an Annual Operating Agreement between BC Transit and the Village of Pemberton, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and the Mount Currie Band must approve the project.
Sturdy confirmed that the Village approved the project in an in camera meeting last month, adding that it is possible to do the project within the budget established by the existing agreement.