By Cindy Filipenko
The Village of Pemberton is facing a 400 per cent increase on the lease fee for a parcel of land used primarily for parking.
The strip of land between the Pemberton Hotel mall and the former railway station has been leased by the VOP since 1981. Initially leased at the token rate of $10 a year, the rate increased to its current level of $3,800 a year in 2004.
On Nov. 29, the VOP received notice from BCR Properties that the lease rate had been adjusted to $15,900 per annum, plus GST, beginning Jan 1, 2007 and applying until Dec. 31, 2008.
Primarily used as a parking lot for the hotel, cold beer and wine store and Greyhound bus depot, the property also provides a northbound lane for Frontier Street.
In a report to council, Administrator Lori Pilon noted that other municipalities that have similar arrangements have not received notices of increases. She also wrote that she had contacted BCR’s director of real estate, Richard Myhill-Jones, about the increase and he had expressed frustration over trying to move on the subdivision of BCR’s property known as the Y site.
Councillor Mark Blundell likened BCR’s action to “putting a gun to our heads.”
“He’s frustrated about moving the subdivision ahead and we get this? It’s ludicrous,” said Blundell.
Mayor Jordan Sturdy expressed disappointment with Mayhill-Jones’s beahviour, “I don’t know what he’s attempting to do,” said the mayor. “We want to move ahead with the Y lands and the mill site.”
Pilon informed council of the impending meeting in January with the BCR representative to discuss both the subdivision and lease terms. At least one council member was adverse to this tack.
“Why don’t we meet with his boss?” suggested Blundell. “This guy is completely out of control.”
Blundell pointed out that previous meetings with Myhill-Jones had been fruitless.
After some discussion, it was decided that village staff and the mayor would meet with Myhill-Jones early in the New Year.
Over the 25-year relationship with BCR, the lease rates have been negotiated favourably by the VOP several times. The administrator is committed to investigating this established route first, but is prepared to up the ante if necessary.
“We’ll step it up if there’s no action,” confirmed Pilon.