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Whistler growth slowing but still hot

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New homes have been shooting out of the ground for years and with lower housing costs, a transit system in place, and great community spirit it has become a popular place for Whistler workers to make their home.

"I think we are getting mostly the young professional from Whistler with the young family," said Warner.

"People are choosing to come and live in Pemberton because of the lifestyle and they want to bring their children up here."

But Warner takes exception to describing Pemberton as Whistler’s bedroom community.

"I don’t think people chose us because it is a convenient bedroom," she said. "They choose us because we are a community."

But growth comes at a cost.

"Our infrastructure is busting at the seams," she said. Over a million dollars has just been spent on a new water reservoir, a new elementary school is under construction, and a new sewage treatment plant is a must.

The growth also concerns Pemberton resident Wayne Coughlin.

"I think everyone here wants it to continue to be a small town," he said.

"We definitely don’t want (Pemberton) to loose its heritage or historic flavour and become a bland suburb. We don’t think it will because the council and the people who live here are strong."

Coughlin moved to Pemberton six years ago with his wife Stephanie, a recreation programmer for the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

"It is really, basically, a paradise," said Wayne as sons mark, 4, and Scott, 2 played in the background.

"We can’t believe we are here. We won the lottery."

Coughlin, who lived in Whistler for 14 years before moving to Pemberton in 1996, was drawn by the spectacular beauty of the area which boasts fertile farmland nestled in a valley whose sentinels are the 8,000 foot peaks of the Coastal Mountains.

He also loves the lifestyle. Big affordable house, big garden, big-hearted neighbours and friends.

"It is just that cliché small-town friendly willing-to-help-out community and everyone is in the same boat here," said Coughlin, ski patrol manager for Blackcomb Mountain.

But movement to rural areas, such as Pemberton, is bucking the norm. The census found that in general rural areas were losing population.

Indeed half of Canada’s population of 30,007,094 live in four sprawling urban swathes; the Toronto dominated Golden Horseshoe wrapped around the west end of Lake Ontario; Montreal and its surroundings; the Lower Mainland of British Columbia; and the Calgary-Edmonton corridor.

Incredibly these four areas held 51 per cent of Canadians.