Each year, the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) holds a Convention for all member municipalities to learn, share and connect with other local and provincial government representatives. During the Convention, municipalities are also offered the opportunity to request meetings with individual Ministers to advocate for their community’s specific needs.
This year, the Village of Pemberton Council will be advocating for support for the following issues: Childcare Needs in Pemberton, Affordable Housing in Pemberton, Impacts of Increased Tourism in the Pemberton Area, Diking Infrastructure Upgrades for Flood Mitigation
Childcare Needs in Pemberton: A recent Child Care Needs Assessment and Strategy prepared by SPARC BC found that Pemberton has over 30% less childcare spaces per 100 children than the Provincial average. This dire situation can be attributed to continued low wages which are inequitable to the highly demanding profession, and to low accessibility to required training, particularly in rural communities. Private licensed providers face the additional hindrance of being ineligible for Provincial grant funding for facilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgency to address the shortage, as neither municipalities nor the Province can hope to achieve economic recovery if parents are unable to work. The Village is requesting that the Province subsidize equitable wages for childcare workers, increased options for accessible training, and enable private childcare facilities to access Provincial funding support.
Affordable Housing in Pemberton: Finding solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Pemberton is a Strategic Priority of Council. To inform its Action Plan, in 2019 the Village commissioned an Affordable Housing Needs Assessment, which identified severe housing gaps for seniors, low- and moderate-income individuals including single parents, and vulnerable residents. In addition to the high human cost of homelessness, without accommodation for entry-level employees, our local businesses and economy also suffer. The Village is working hard to achieve the Plan’s goals, which include building partnerships that can lead to the development of affordable housing projects. The Village is requesting support from the Province for its Affordable Housing Action Plan and that an open dialogue be maintained as we work to address the housing crisis in Pemberton.
Impacts of Increased Tourism in Pemberton: Outdoor tourism in the Pemberton Valley has a positive impact to the local and Provincial economy. Sadly, overcrowding and other irresponsible behaviours have the potential to close or destroy popular areas, which are now in even higher demand as we opt to vacation in our own backyards and some larger Provincial Parks remain closed. The Province needs to match its investment in marketing of these assets with investment in regular patrols to educate the public and protect the environment. Now more than ever we need boots on the ground, to avoid additional emergency management expenses caused by wildfire, or loss of outdoor attractions as the tourism economy struggles to recover. The Village is requesting that the Province match the investment made in tourism marketing with the allocation of funds for patrols of remote recreation areas to ensure the protection of the environment that supports the recovery of the local and Provincial tourism economy.
Diking Infrastructure Upgrades for Flood Mitigation: To qualify for Provincial funding, diking infrastructure upgrades must meet the 2014 Seismic Design Guidelines for Dikes - 2nd Edition. The Guidelines apply to Southwestern BC and Vancouver Island, despite the level of seismic hazard in an area: the output from Natural Resources Canada’s seismic hazard calculator for Pemberton is significantly lower than the calculator for areas such as Richmond, Abbotsford and Victoria, and is in fact much closer to Calgary’s, an area of very low seismic hazard (Thurber Engineering Ltd.). Until the Guidelines are revised to be area specific, they cannot be considered as a determining factor when allocating funding for crucial flood mitigation efforts. The Village is requesting that the Province allocate funding for crucial diking infrastructure upgrades outside the parameters of the 2014 Seismic Design Guidelines for Dikes, until such time as the Guidelines are revised to reflect area-specific seismic hazard.