Pemberton's boundary expansion may have to wait on the regional growth strategy (RGS).
The Ministry of Community Development has informed the Village of Pemberton (VOP) that it wants the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District to adopt the controversial RGS before Pemberton can expand its boundaries. A referendum on Pemberton's boundary expansion was successful during last November's municipal election.
The RGS, a bylaw that aims to limit urban sprawl in the SLRD, has proven a controversial one after the District of Squamish refused to endorse it, worrying that it could be prejudicial to the community if it's adopted before Squamish finalizes its official community plan.
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy told Pique that the ministry wants the RGS adopted before the boundary expansion, but it doesn't specify why. And he, in turn, doesn't agree with its position.
"I don't understand how the two are even related," he said. "I was very disappointed to see that statement coming out of the ministry and we will certainly be looking to enter discussions with the ministry because we don't feel the issues that Squamish has materially affect the boundary extension."
The VOP is looking to expand its boundaries into 20 new properties that currently lie within Area C of the SLRD. Those properties include the Rutherford Creek Power Plant on Highway 99; the hillside area, which includes the Ravens Crest property and the site for the Pemberton Festival; and the Airport Road Area, which includes five privately-owned properties.
Pemberton's referendum on boundary expansion was approved by a margin of 611 votes to 145.
The RGS remains stalled, with Squamish, the SLRD and the ministry working to resolve outstanding issues.
If approved, Pemberton's boundary expansion could bring an estimated $180,000 in tax revenue to village coffers; $135,000 of that would come from property taxes on the Rutherford Creek Power Plant alone.
"They just tied the two together," Sturdy said. "I believe that the Village of Pemberton and Area C's OCPs are in conformance with the RGS. It was pointed out today (May 19) that the RGS actually refers to Pemberton in terms of examples for how to develop.
"So why this should be a problem at this point, it actually escapes me."
The Village of Pemberton is hosting an "Elected Officials Forum" on June 17 and 18 to help examine issues and details related to the RGS. At that time the RGS Steering Committee, which is composed of staff from a number of local governments and a ministry representative, will report to the officials with outstanding issues related to the strategy.
Invitations to the forum have been sent out to First Nations as well as the ministry.