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Village of Pemberton council talks weed

Council to send province a letter rather than complete survey



A survey by the province on marijuana legalization prompted a healthy discussion at the Village of Pemberton (VOP) council meeting Nov.7.

Marijuana is on track to be legalized next year.

Nikki Gilmore, Chief Administrative Officer for the Village of Pemberton, criticized the roll out of the consultation, noting that the VOP only received word of it a couple weeks back.

VOP Mayor Mike Richman stressed the need for municipalities to receive a portion of any tax proceeds that flow from the legalization.

His remarks echo those of other municipal politicians.

Local governments will be affected by the sale of weed, and they should therefore receive a portion of revenues, said Richman.

The other councillors agreed, saying legal weed sales may lead to more stress on police and ambulance services.

"I think we have to continually reinforce the idea we want a portion," said Councillor Ted Craddock.

"It's affecting our community — it's going to take time away from other things."Said Coun. Karen Ross, "It's going to be a change, and we're going to need some help with that."

In the end, council, frustrated by what seemed like haphazard consultation, decided to forgo the survey and send a letter instead.

The letter, they agreed, should make three key points: (1) there needs to be more and better engagement with local and senior levels of government; (2) municipalities should receive a "direct" share of revenues; and (3) municipalities should have control over the zoning of dispensaries and areas where weed is grown and consumed.

New SLRD Building

The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District is looking to expand its Aster Street office, which sits atop Pemberton's fire department.

Town planner Lisa Pedrini ran down the proposed changes, which will add office space and a lobby and have already been given the go ahead by the Advisory Design Review Commission.

"The building character won't change," said Pedrini.

Six trees will need to be removed to accommodate a larger parking space, she said.

Council was enthusiastic, passing a resolution of support.

There was, however, some disagreement when the conversation turned to the parking lot. The SLRD asked for a variance to allow it to keep part of its lot, the part tucked behind the building, as a gravel surface.

The idea didn't sit well with Coun. Craddock, who said that private business might view the concession as unfair and a quid pro quo between two government bodies.

Coun. James Linklater was also opposed, citing the need to be "consistent."

Richman, however, said he could get behind the variance, and that he would consider a similar request from a private party in the same light.

"I don't like laying pavement where we don't need to," he explained.

"We've overdone in North America in the last 40 years. Personally I don't have a problem with a gravel parking lot," he said.

Ross agreed: "I think gravel is a good solution," she said.

Council, however, deferred voting until the next meeting — with Jennie Helmer absent, a tie would have resulted in an automatic rejection.

More calls for the fire department

Fire Chief Robert Grossman updated council on third-quarter numbers.

Pemberton's volunteer fire department had an active third quarter, having responded to 94 calls. That's up from 85 in 2016, and 81 in 2015.

Grossman explained that there were a number of reasons for the increase, including an uptick in calls from people who mistakenly thought they saw the beginnings of a forest fire.

Grossman also said many calls were due to recent storms that brought down power lines.

In addition to responding to downed lines, the fire department responded to a number of alarms from commercial buildings.

"It's just like your smoke detectors, change your batteries every six months. Or have it annually tested," he said.