Seven years after expanding its boundaries, the Village of Pemberton is considering doing it again.
At its April 10 meeting, Urban Systems senior planner and principal Dan Huang presented to council regarding five areas the village could add to its boundaries from the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District's Area C that could make sense for all concerned.
Huang's presentation proposed that the VOP extend its boundaries to include: the Miller Creek independent power project (IPP), the remaining portion of the Rutherford Creek IPP, a portion of the Pemberton North water-service area, some of the area surrounding the industrial park and a portion of Highway 99 between Harrow Road and Pemberton Farm Road East. This would add roughly 200 properties and 500 residents to the VOP, and help create a more contiguous boundary and further foster a sense of community.
Huang said in many cases, costs to the VOP would not increase because it is already servicing many of the properties as part of the proposal, while the residents could see benefits including lower service costs and, potentially, lower fire-insurance costs that would at the very least offset any tax increase those homeowners incur as a result of the change. Including two sections with IPPs also would result in just under $200,000 of extra tax revenue for the VOP on its own.
One major concern put forth by council was the potential maintenance and repair costs associated with taking on an extra 6.3 kilometres of roads, with Mayor Mike Richman pointing out Clover Road and Collins Road are in particularly rough shape. Council voted to direct Huang to return with clearer road maintenance figures at the April 24 meeting.
Council has previously considered adding larger sections of land with the same number of properties in the past, and estimates at that time projected that even with more roads in its jurisdiction, the effect on the VOP's finances would have been neutral at worst. This proposal involves adding fewer roads but similar numbers of properties, including both IPPs.
The process will move quickly, as two public open houses will be held before council votes whether to proceed at its May 29 meeting. If council elects to proceed, the affected Area C residents will vote in a referendum on municipal voting day on Oct. 20. VOP residents will also vote in a referendum on whether to accept the new properties should the affected residents elect to join the VOP.
Huang's full presentation will be available soon at pemberton.ca.
Staff directed to investigate cannabis licensing
With legal recreational marijuana set to become available later this year, council voted to, at the very least, look into dipping its toe in the water.However, Councillors Karen Ross and Jennie Helmer were reluctant to go forward with staff even investigating the cannabis licensing process and reporting back at a future Committee of the Whole meeting.
Ross said Pemberton has worked hard to shirk its reputation as being difficult for business and a move like this would be seen as a shift back to its old ways.
"The municipality should not be involved," Ross said. "We should not be going into competition with other businesses in town."
However, Richman said while there are differences between the two, municipal governments occasionally find it worthwhile to provide the same services as the private sector, citing the example of golf courses.
He also stressed minimal resources would be needed to complete this preliminary fact-finding.
"It's worth exploring," he said. "I would like to just turn the rock over."
Council also voted to direct staff to develop a policy regarding the retail sales of non-medical marijuana in anticipation of the Cannabis Act coming into effect.
Tax rates bylaws pass
With the option of using a $25,000 reserve to cut the annual tax rate or reallocate it to another reserve fund, council opted to do the latter when passing first, second and third readings of its annual tax rate bylaw.
Council voted to put the $25,000 in the capital reserves for future capital expenditures in consideration of future One Mile Lake boardwalk repairs and redevelopment instead of the road reserve fund.
Earlier in the meeting, council voted to rescind its decision from its Feb. 20 meeting to establish a parks reserve of $50,000 for that purpose and opted instead to transfer $25,000 into capital reserves.
This year's tax rate increase will be 4.449 per cent without using reserves while it would have been 2.701 had reserves been used.
Coming in under the five-per-cent threshold was important, and Coun. Ted Craddock said even if it's the higher option, 4.449 per cent was "reasonable."
Council also passed its water frontage tax amendment bylaw ($4.36 per metre of taxable frontage), sewer frontage tax amendment bylaw ($6.67 per metre of taxable frontage) and sewer rates amendment bylaw.
Full information is available at pemberton.ca.