The Village of Pemberton is looking to get into the gravel business.
The Village's June 1 council meeting carried a report to council from Chief Administrator Daniel Sailland saying that the municipality is looking to partner with the Pemberton Valley Dyking District (PVDD) in the development of a gravel pit for "institutional use only."
The report stated that Village staff have met with Jeff Westlake, operations manager for the PVDD and looked at the Signal Hill Quarry as a possible development option for its own gravel pit. The site is located on the south slope of Suicide Hill, a steep and winding section of Highway 99 heading into Pemberton.
As yet there is no impact on the Village budget because discussions are at such an early stage but staff time may be required in order to make an application and provide reports for all the agencies needed to approve such a project.
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said at the council meeting that the gravel pit is needed because "virtually every development" in the valley needs a substantial amount of fill material.
"That's always a challenge and especially acquiring material from a location that has minimal travel time because that's where the cost really is, in the trucking," he said. "We have an opportunity to work with the Pemberton Valley Dyking District, it has those same needs. I think working together we'll have a good opportunity to acquire the tenure."
The fill could be useful for a seniors' housing project that's been slated to go at 7420 Flint Street in Pemberton. The project was announced in April 2009 as a modular complex with 18 units. It has since been announced that there will actually be 22 units at the complex. B.C. Housing announced it as part of a plan to build 1,000 units across the Province.
The project has since stalled, however, with both the Village and B.C. Housing struggling to make it a reality. A committee of the whole meeting in April determined that the project is "not moving forward in any unified fashion" due to the fact that it doesn't have a site plan, there's been no consideration for road access and a development permit hasn't yet to be applied for.
Fill is also proving to be an issue for the development - the foundation of the site needs to be prepared with plenty of the stuff for construction to start.
Councillor Al LeBlanc cautioned that the gravel pit be used for "very specific purposes" in order to keep it from forcing competition with other facilities located throughout the region.
"I would just hate to see businesses suffer from free gravel," he said.
Sturdy responded jokingly that there's a "gravel syndicate" in the Sea to Sky region and that "they could use a bit of competition frankly." But he also said that any tenure would be tied specifically to community-based uses and for the "greater public benefit" rather than to create competition.
Councillor Susie Gimse agreed with LeBlanc's concerns.
"I think we should be looking at developing some criteria around how we would use the tenure because we don't want to find ourselves in direct competition with businesses," she said. "It's for public use and benefit for the community, so we can simply develop some policy around the tenure so it's successful."