Frequently Asked Questions about Nkwúkwma Pemberton


General/Planning Questions

What specific benefits will be provided to the community of Pemberton?

Infrastructure Improvements – Nkwúkwma will be required to complete significant improvements to off-site infrastructure including upgrades to municipal sanitary and water systems, and storm-water management. The applicant has provided monies for the Village to update their municipal sanitary and water modelling and provide a new storm-water management model.

Clean Up of Contaminated Sites – A condition of the land purchase is the clean up by the landowner of the former gun and rifle range. There is currently significant lead and copper contamination, with the clean-up project to be several millions of dollars.

Long Term Housing Supply – The Nkwúkwma will provide a long-term supply of diverse housing forms for the local community which is located close to downtown and out of the flood plain and Agricultural Land Reserve.

Economic Development – The first two phases (subject to the current re-zoning application) of the project are anticipated to have a long-term build-out (15-20 years) providing a range of housing types, as well as providing ongoing employment for local construction trades, with spin-offs to both the retail and service sector.

Archaeological Sites – Lil’wat Nation’s traditional use of the lands has been further established by a recent Archaeological Impact Assessment that confirmed several archaeological sites and additional Areas of Concern require further investigations and for the confirmed archaeological sites Lil’wat Nation and provincial approval, before any ground disturbance commences in the area.  

Tax Base – The new development will increase the property tax base for both the Village of Pemberton and the Pemberton Valley Dyking District.

Community Amenity Contributions – The project will contribute to the Village’s community amenity fund through to build out. The applicant has submitted a fulsome amenity proposal that includes affordable housing, recreation facility contributions, parks, off-site service upgrades, and trail improvements.

Reconciliation – The project is consistent with the intent of the Village of Pemberton’s and Lil’wat Nation’s Protocol Agreement (2010) to “recognize and acknowledge that the Lil’wat Nation asserts aboriginal title to all lands within its traditional territory” and is further reinforced by the existing OCP policy:

“The Lil’wat People’s approach to governance is to be collaborative consultative, whereby the Land and the People are one… It is therefore imperative that Pemberton integrate this philosophy into its principles, policies and actions of its OCP”

Why was the Líl̓wat Nation able to purchase the lands?

The lands subject to the Nkwúkwma development application had formerly been managed by the province. In 2017, the Lil’wat Nation submitted a crown land application to acquire the lands, following the required due diligence and consultation (i.e., archaeology, environment, absorption study, appraisal, etc.) The land acquisition and the development partnership both align with Section 92 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:

“We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:

  1. Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.

  2. Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.” Transfer of Lands The transfer of lands was also consistent with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:
    “Article 3: Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” This is a concrete action where government has taken a step beyond lip service and engaged in an act of reconciliation, and this should be acknowledged and celebrated.
  3. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

Lil’wat Nation has had an accommodation interest in the Benchlands since 2005 (original Phase 1) being unceded Traditional Territory of the Lil’wat Nation.

What is the chronology of the development application?

In 2006, the Village of Pemberton initiated a public planning process for the lands known as the Pemberton Benchlands, which was completed in 2007 with the Village approval of the Benchlands Neighbourhood Concept Plan (NCP). The Nkwúkwma project subject to the current development application comprises only three of the NCP’s eight phases (3, 4 and 7).

The NCP policy directions have since been incorporated into the current 2011 OCP, recognizing that the growth area is fundamental in providing for the community’s mid- and long-term housing needs. Phase 1 parcels of the NCP were approved for development and built-out during the past decade. The 2011 OCP requires a minor amendment to permit a more diverse range of housing types and to remove the school site, although the unit count remains similar (yet with a reduced floor area density).

Although, the development application was submitted in March 2021, the project has been discussed with the Village since 2017:


  • June 2017 Council presentation
  • 2017 to late 2019 Met with Village planners and engineers several times (review and meeting time fees paid by applicant for pre-application review)

Post Application

  • July 2021 Council presentation by planning consultant
  • July to present weekly meetings with the planning staff and consultant
  • January 2022 Council presentation

The applicant will respond to recent Village initiatives related to active transportation, affordable housing, daycare, wildfire hazard mitigation, community energy action, and other policy priorities will be incorporated into the proposed Nkwúkwma (OCP amendment) Sub Area Plan.

The applicant has kept the Village aware of the project’s status, and for the most part, the delays in moving forward were due to the pandemic (early lockdown), the need to better understand the contaminants from the gun and rifle range and finalizing a complex land purchase. To date the site investigations (contamination, traffic, planning, servicing, environment, etc.) required for the land sale and application are considerable, and the risk to undertake these investments was based on the policies of the 2011 OCP and Village communications.

How will the increase in population resulting from this new development be addressed in the needs of the town’s medical services?

On September 9, 2021, the Village referred the development application to Vancouver Coastal Health. It is anticipated that the OCP Amendment (Sub Area Plan) and Zoning Bylaw will be also part of future referrals. Vancouver Coastal Health would also have been notified of this new neighbourhood with the corresponding OCP amendments in 2007 and 2011.

In addition, the recently established First Nations-led Primary Care Initiative (FNPCI) aims to improve access to primary health-care services for First Nations people across BC in a way that is culturally safe and closer to home, and in partnership with the Regional Health Authorities.

The Southern Stl’atl’imx sub-region es zúmin’ Primary Care Centre (PCC) provides culturally safe, trauma-informed primary care services to the, Líl’wat, N’Quatqua, Samahquam, Skatin and Xa’xtsa First Nations communities. The services are located in the Líl’wat Health Pqusnalhcw Health Centre and the Southern Stl’atl’imx Health Society main building, and with mobile clinics providing services in N’Quatqua, Samahquam, Skatin, and Xa’xtsa, the es zúmin’ Primary Care Centre provides a safe space for First Nations people and their families to seek high-quality primary care services.

Will sidewalks be included in the development and if so, how will they link into the existing neighborhoods/streets on Dogwood and down Eagle Drive?

Currently the development proposal includes a sidewalk paralleling Eagle Drive within the project, however, active transportation elements within the road cross sections are still under review and will be subject to approval by the Village. The appropriate connections into the existing neighbourhood’s infrastructure will be determined during detailed design development with any requested off-site amenity commitments secured by the Village prior to rezoning.

The applicant has prepared a Parks and Trails Plan that incorporates access to the site via non-vehicular trails and pathways. Included in the Parks and Trails Plan are the following links (see link for Parks and Trails Plan):

  • Friendship Trail – This provides a multi-use off-road connection from the existing dike trail along Pemberton Creek (behind SLRD offices), up into the site in the vicinity of Fernwood Street. This trail is intended to be a commuter trail with access for all trail users, and an extension of the valley-wide Friendship Trail.
  • Multi-Use Trail – This trail links the various pods of development within the neighbourhood for the array of trail users. There are also trail connections to the multi-use trail linking each development pod.
  • Hill Hike Trail – This trail (with stairs) intent was to provide a direct route from the neighbourhood to the downtown, utilizing the existing stairs next accessed from Greenwood Steet. This is a sporty route that terminates at the neighbourhood park hub, as well crosses and links to the Multi-Use Trail and the Friendship Trail.
  • Sidewalks – A sidewalk is provided along the main access road (extension of Eagle Drive).
The existing Eagle Drive is quite narrow? Will there be a plan to upgrade this road for pedestrian and cycle traffic?

The Eagle Drive access has been reviewed, considering geotechnical limitations and the existing (municipally approved) road design. The construction of Eagle Drive was the originally responsibility of the Phase 1 Benchlands subdivision. The road was assumed by the Village as a public road (2009).

In January 2014, however, Eagle Drive had a significant rockslide which originated from a bedrock cut slope (at which time the road was closed for several years). In July 2014, the Village retained EXP. Services (geotechnical engineers) to provide an assessment of potential instabilities. The report recommended certain mitigative works, which the Village has undertaken which allowed the road to safely reopen, but yet some of the mitigation was a stop gap, until more funding could be available through subsequent phases of the Benchlands NCP.

Engineering investigations have indicated that the road design currently meets municipal requirements considering turning movements and grades less than 10%. Detailed turning radius have been provided to the Village that indicate that the Pemberton Fire Truck (Ladder Truck), Heavy Single Unit Truck (HSU) – Dump Trucks, and a Long Bed Truck carrying Excavation Vehicles.

The challenge with the road is that the geotechnical “no post” barriers give the appearance of a narrow road, and in some instances the line of sight is impeded. The applicant has submitted a cost estimate based on work required by a geotechnical engineer, to mitigate the rock fall hazard. The cost to complete these off-site works is a just under $1 million, and an off-site amenity infrastructure improvement.

Will there be another entrance/exit into the development? Original studies and plans show a second entrance.

Currently, Nkwúkwma only considers Phases 3, 4 and 7 of the NCP. The NCP indicates a second access to the north, through the properties fronting Collins Road which are incredibly steep and either owned by third parties or within the SLRD (DL 8820). Conceptual road designs were prepared for the connection (the Village would need to expropriate) but the road would be incredibly steep and likely not used as it would be approximately 500 m longer than the existing Eagle Drive connection to the Pemberton Valley Road intersection.

Nkwúkwma, however, will ensure that the potential access to this future route is retained through the proposed development. A looping road is also proposed for Phase 3 of Nkwúkwma, subject to a Village boundary extension and remediation of the contaminated gun and rifle range. In addition, the Friendship Trail provides an alternative emergency access as noted below, and a boulevard treatment between the emergency access and the existing Eagle Drive.

Isn’t there a need for another exit for emergencies, wildfires, etc.?

There are many residential developments throughout the Pemberton and the Sea to Sky region that have single access points, due to challenging terrain, land ownership and/or environmental constraints. The neighbourhood provides a four-season emergency access (less than 8% grade) via the Friendship Trail connection through to Fernwood Drive and there is an expectation that from Fernwood to Eagle Drive there would be a boulevard to ensure one lane flowed.

The traffic study was conducted during 2021 when volumes may have been less due to Covid pandemic. Also, the traffic changes at different times of year. Is this study accurate?

The traffic data collection was undertaken in September 2019 before the pandemic by a qualified professional and in accordance with terms set down by the Village. The timing of the traffic counts was discussed with the Village, including when schools were in session. Available historical data was reviewed as well. The Village has accepted the traffic report.

In response to recent provincial legislation, however, all single-family and duplex lots must allow small accessory units in the form of Auxiliary Dwelling Units(ADUs), secondary suites or carriage houses. Although the gross floor area of development is not impacted by this legislation the number of units will likely increase (although the units will be much smaller). On-site parking will be provided for these units.

Although traffic considers peak use, the Village will request that the traffic study be updated to account for actual realized demand when Phase 1 achieves 75% occupancy. This review will also consider if Nkwúkwma is less reliant on automobiles, considering the expanding use of e-scooters and e-bikes. An additional traffic study will be required if Phase 3 is ever developed.

Traffic seems to be a key problem. The railway crossing is a pinch point and downtown traffic can be plugged up quite often. What will be done to alleviate these problems?

The overall planning for access to the Village is part of the Village’s overall transportation planning. The delays at the crossing caused by train usage are a larger issue that need to be discussed further with the Village. Similar concerns will arise be raised with the infill development in downtown (which will add a significant number of new residential units).

Has critical habitat for species at risk been identified.

Cascade has indicated that no “critical habitat for species at risk” have been identified on the subject site.

Sharp tailed snake habitat has been identified. Who will do the survey?

The sharp-tailed snake survey was completed by Cascade Environmental in 2023. The report included conclusions, recommendations and requirements, as follows:

Some of the surveyed areas contain habitat, flora and faunal assemblages potentially suitable for sharp-tailed snake habitat, the species was not detected in any of the surveys conducted by Cascade. Although the habitat on private land is not protected by legislation, there is a legal requirement to prevent harm to the snake in adherence with SARA and the BC Wildlife Act.

It is recommended, that when and where feasible the potential habitat should be preserved and to comply with SARA, and the BC Wildlife Act which recommends completing hand searches, preferably during the appropriate March-May window prior to any ground disturbance or development. A wildlife salvage permit should be obtained before any site clearing to allow relocation of any amphibians or reptiles found during the hand search. Any site alteration requires a Development Permit with the necessary construction site management plan, environmental monitoring, etc.

Also, the little brown myotis and screech owl surveys will be conducted prior to tree clearing as a pre-requisite to development and the recommendations will be secured through future development permits and other means.”

Has a Stormwater management plan been approved by the Village? How will the development manage runoff downstream towards the residents below Benchlands (Elmwood Dr area)?

The Village of Pemberton has completed a Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) model for the catchment area (currently funded by Skénkenam Developments’) that includes the Nkwúkwma. The study will evaluate existing infrastructure, flow routes, peak runoff rates, and potential deficiencies in the existing system. In addition, the SWMP will evaluate the proposed development and its impact on existing systems, with the goal of minimizing the impact on existing downstream infrastructure and means of matching pre-development flow rates in the post-development scenario. The Pemberton Valley Dyking District has recommended that all storm water flows be directed to Pemberton Creek, and not impact the Arn Canal.

The stormwater detention ponds at Staehli Park don’t seem to function. Will the development address this?

The Village of Pemberton’s Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) study for the catchment area addresses the existing and future use of Staehli Park as a detention basin for the uphill lands. It is understood that due to the poor quality of work in Benchlands – Phase 1 there have been many surrounding properties impacted. It is the intent that Nkwukwma undertake some off-site improvements to ensure that not only the new development adequately manages stormwater but that Staehli Park’s drainage improves.

The watercourse at the end of Eagle Drive has significant flows during high water events. Has this stream been studied and accounted for in the development?

This stream was not identified to flow to Eagle Drive in the Riparian Area Assessment. In response to neighbourhood concerns, this potential watercourse will be assessed in the Spring of 2022 (as soon as run-off commences) to determine the source and location. The required setbacks have been identified in the development plan.

A 15m setback for Pemberton Creek seems minimal.

The Riparian Area Protection Regulation (RAPR) Assessment Method was used to determine the setback. The Detailed Assessment methodology was employed to determine the setback and resulting 15m SPEA (Streamside Protection and Enhancement Area) for Pemberton Creek.

What is involved in the contaminated site remediation? Will residential development occur there in the future?

To date, the applicant has completed extensive testing and commissioned three reports by SLR Consulting (environmental professionals) on the extent of the contamination and approach to remediation. If residential development is to be permitted in or near the contamination, extensive permitting, soil removal and other remediation will be required. Any future use of these lands not currently part of the rezoning application, will be subject to extensive government review and approval. A rezoning application cannot be submitted until there is an approved remediation plan.

Are there any “Night Sky” specific bylaws in place for this development to help reduce “light pollution”.

A policy in the 2011 OCP recognizes that the municipality will introduce lighting standards to preserve Pemberton’s dark sky. These requirements will also be considered in the proposed Nkwúkwma Development Permit Guidelines and Statutory Building Schemes.

Will this be a certified fire smart community?

Development on lands requires a site-specific wildfire assessment report, prepared by a qualified professional, that addresses all of the Wildfire Hazard development permit area guidelines, and are subject to a registered Section 219 restrictive covenant that incorporates the report recommendations to the satisfaction of the Village. The guidelines indicate that all development within 70 metres of a forested area greater than 1 ha. in size shall prepare a wildfire hazard assessment and mitigation plan prepared by a qualified professional, which at minimum should address the following: assessment of the wildfire hazard; building siting; fire-resistant construction materials; FireSmart principles respecting vegetation management; and Fire-resistant planting materials for landscaping plans. The development permit should also address the management, storage, and disposal of site clearing materials, and identify emergency access, including firefighting access to wildland areas.

Topography and Site Constraint Questions

What is the ratio of the building size to lot size (coverage and floor space ratio)? Will there be space for trees?

The proposed building coverage for the single-family and duplex zones is 50%, yet certain servicing and site works will be required to establish a building site. The floor area ratios (FAR is the ratio of the gross floor area of the building to the gross floor area of the lot) have an upward range of 0.4 depending on the type of homes and ancillary units (garages). It is the intent that all development lots will allow for ample space for setbacks, open areas, and landscaping. The landscape treatment of both the public spaces, streets and private lots will be controlled through site-specific Design Guidelines to ensure landscaping is throughout the new neighbourhood. The design attempted to cluster development to maximize the surrounding open space.

Will the power line that runs to the radio towers be decommissioned?

The existing electricity line that runs from Eagle Drive to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) transmission towers will remain until an alternative underground electrical service (as required for the subdivision) is in place. There is currently a statutory right of way in favour of the CBC securing an electrical line/source. Similar rights of ways are also in place, in favour of the Village and the SLRD for their service installations on the site.

Will there be new water towers and/or relocated?

The two existing water reservoirs will remain in place to service existing Village developments. Nkwúkwma will require a new water reservoir to service the development population at Nkwúkwma as all new development will be in a pressure zone above the existing two reservoirs.  The new reservoir will be interconnected with the existing water system and will have the capability to back-feed stored water into the two existing reservoirs if needed during an emergency or extraordinary event.

The parks seem small and a lot of green spaces” seems quite steep. Are these areas usable space for community access and recreation?

The Local Government Act requires that new subdivisions provide, without compensation, a 5% park land dedication of either land or equal value of land. The Village’s subdivision bylaw indicates that parkland dedications shall provide lands that the Village recognizes as being usable and consistent with the Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan.

The current development application provides almost half of the site for parks and open spaces and recognizes that the community embraces active recreation such as mountain biking and hiking within natural areas. It will also be important to protect and buffer archaeological sites.

Neighbourhood Park: 0.92 ha/2.27 acres – 3%
Nature Park: 9.75 ha /24.08 acres – 31%
Natural Area: 3.81 ha/9.41 acres – 12%
Total: 14.48 ha/35.76 acres – 46%

The townhome projects will also have required park space, which will likely cater to younger children. It is the intent to work with both Lil’wat Nation (archaeological sites and cultural recognition), and recreation interests to develop a parks and trail plan.

What is the status of the existing mountain bike and hiking trails in terms of the development?

The public may continue to use the informal trails on the site, as there is a blanket statutory right of way that permits community trail use. Subject to contaminated site remediation and/or an approved parks and trails plan for the project, certain trails may be rerouted. It is the intent is to have a net gain of trails.

The existing trails of Fat Tug (Section 57 authorization). Banjo, Shots Fired and Chaos are for the most part outside of the development sites and are not authorized yet they are recognized within the Pemberton Valley Recreational Trails Master Plan. The access road to Fat Tug and its lower bermed route along Pemberton Creek may need to be rerouted at the time of the Phase 3 development (this phase is the contaminated site). It is understood through early consultation with trail users, that there is an opportunity to develop a trail system that best reflects the needs of the community and traditional use of the trails. The Pemberton Waterfall Trail could also be improved as a community amenity as well as trailhead improvements.

The draft Parks and Trails Plan has been prepared with input from local trail organizations, and was presented at the Pemberton Valley Recreation Trails Working Group in January 2024. The draft plan is attached to this FAQ.

At this time, the re-routing of the existing mountain biking trails has not yet been identified as it is dependant on the setback buffer areas to archaeological sites. The applicant will work with trails organizations to re-route and enhance the existing trail network, secured through the Village at the expense of the developer.

Housing Diversity and Use Questions

Will commercial space be included? If so, how much? Type?

It has been suggested that retail and/or service space (i.e., daycare, community space) could be planned as part of the apartment building. It has been suggested that flexible zoning could be used until such uses would be viable.

It is important, however, to ensure that any retail or service space service only the immediate area so as not to introduce additional traffic into the neighbourhood.

How will this be affordable?

The project includes a wide range of housing types and tenures, which have different affordability levels. The focus has been on smaller units, that will match the affordability levels of the local community. The 2007 NCP (which was adopted before the Community Amenity Contribution policy was implemented) indicated that 5% of the units are to be dedicated for community housing (special housing) as defined by factors such as age, disability, or income.

Affordable housing is considered a Community Amenity that is earmarked in the Official Community Plan. The Village has also identified that the implementation of the Affordable Housing Plan as a top strategic action. In March 2020 Council endorsed the 2020-2021 Affordable Housing Work Program, which identifies policy development and other opportunities for the delivery of needed housing.

The applicant is looking for direction from the Council to provide 15% of the units as rental affordable housing secured as workforce housing. The Village is reviewing the proposal at this time and it will be made available at the time of bylaw readings and the public hearing.

What are the types of housing available?

The design proposes the following housing types:

  • Large, Medium and Compact Single-Family Homes,
  • Duplex Homes,
  • Townhomes, and
  • Apartments.

The Village completed a housing options study in 2021 and identified other forms that could be accommodated in the proposed Comprehensive Development zoning for Nkwukwma.

  • accessory dwelling units/carriage,
  • lock off suites in townhomes,
  • tiny homes,
  • duplexes,
  • suites in duplexes,
  • 3-4 plexes and
  • low rise apartments.

The provincial government recently mandated that single-family and duplex zoned properties are able to accommodate up to 3 additional ancillary units. The Village has anticipated this legislation in the re-zoning, however, the additional units must meet certain zoning requirements related to setbacks, parking and the character of the property (i.e. slopes and access).

Planning Approval Status

What step are we in the current planning process?

The following public information meetings have been held in Pemberton:

March 2020 – Community Open House
December 3, 2021- Pop Up Information booth downtown Pemberton
December 8, 2021 – Virtual Open House
April 18 2023 – Pop Up Information Booth at Eagle Drive
April 19, 2023 – Public Information Meeting
February 8, 2024 – Public Open House (Village led)

Village Council considered the development applications and draft bylaws:

June 2017 – Council Workshop on Future Neighbourhood Plan
June 2021 – Council Meeting of Application Referral
January 2022 – Committee of the Whole Staff Presentation of Development Plan
March 2022 – Committee of the Whole Staff Presentation of Development Plan
March 2023 – Staff Introduction to Council of Sub Area Plan
May 2023 – Council Workshop of Sub Area Plan
October 2023 – Council Workshop of Sub Area Plan

On January 30, 2024 the Village of Pemberton referred the draft bylaws to external agencies and interests. The deadline for the referral comments is the end of February 2024. Subject to these comments, the bylaws will be considered for initial readings in March with a Public Hearing following in April. Consideration of third reading and adoption of the Bylaws could occur in the early summer.

Site works for engineering and environmental investigations required an issued Development Permit.