There’s a popular Simpsons episode in which the family takes a
trip to Australia. Fearing for their safety, the family opts to stay at the
U.S. Embassy — an island of American soil down under.
Homer, fascinated by the border at the Embassy’s gate, starts
hopping back and forth between Australia and “America.” Looking at Bart, he
says, “Look boy, now I’m in Australia, now I’m in America! Australia! America!
He continues this routine until an aggravated Marine guard
Pemberton residents could do much the same thing if they
stepped onto Highway 99, just outside the village boundary. There, they could
find themselves hopping between the village and Electoral Area C of the
Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.
It’s a confusing situation that may change just a little bit in
an upcoming plebiscite on boundary expansion. It will take place in tandem with
Pemberton’s municipal election on Nov. 15
Village voters will answer the following question:
"Are you in favour of a boundary extension to
include the Hillside area, the Pemberton Creek Watershed, the lands along
Airport Road, and the lands south of Rutherford Creek within the Village of
Pemberton Boundaries? Yes or No?"
The vote, however, isn’t a referendum, per se. It won’t
immediately change anything if Village of Pemberton electors vote it through.
It’s meant to give an indication as to whether the village community supports
the idea of incorporating approximately 20 properties from SLRD Electoral Area
C into the village boundaries.
The areas include: the Rutherford Creek Power Plant, located
just south of Pemberton along Highway 99; the hillside area, which includes the
Ravens Crest property and the site for the Pemberton Festival; the Airport Road
area, close to the Pemberton Airport, which includes five privately-owned
properties; and the Pemberton Creek Watershed, which the village is considering
for a power plant.
It’s a process that has the staunch support of both mayoral
candidates. One of them, David MacKenzie, has said the expansion is a tax grab
for a community that’s been “tax poor for a long time.”
For Mayor Jordan Sturdy, who is
seeking a second term, the expansion will allow village council to have say
over how the community develops — and for him, that’s a better situation
than letting the SLRD dictate development in Pemberton.
Development is a big issue at present.
Proponents of Ravens Crest, a 287-acre property that includes the site of last
year’s Pemberton Festival, want to build a community with residential,
recreational and equestrian areas, as well as the proposed GEMS private school.
That property currently lies within the SLRD’s jurisdiction, but village
councillors should be the ones making decisions about it, according to Sturdy.