Frequently Asked Questions about Benchlands Nkwúkwma

General/Planning Questions

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

At the public meeting, there was discussion of the overall benefits of the project, notably:

Infrastructure Improvements – Nkwúkwma will be required to complete significant improvements to off-site infrastructure including upgrades to municipal sanitary and water systems, and stormwater management. The applicant has recently provided monies for the Village to update their municipal sanitary and water modelling and provide a new stormwater 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 – In accordance with the Village’s current Official Community Plan (2011 OCP), Nkwúkwma will provide a long-term supply of diverse housing forms for the local community which is located both out of the flood plain and outside the Agricultural Land Reserve.

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

Archaeological Sites – Líl̓wat Nation’s traditional use of the lands has been further established by recent archaeological investigations of the site that identified 10 separate Areas of Concern, and a confirmed an archaeological site (rock shelter and pictograph panels (which has been protected by covenant. The Areas of Concern required further study to confirm, prior to any ground disturbance in the area.

Líl̓wat Nation Land Stewards – Nkwúkwma is within the unceded Traditional Territory of the Líl̓wat Nation. As stewards of these lands, Líl̓wat will develop a Cultural Interpretive Plan to share the Nation’s cultural heritage and language throughout the project

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 is awaiting input from the Village on the preferred amenities which could include affordable housing, recreation facilities, parks, and other trail improvements.

Reconciliation – The project is consistent with the intent of the Village of Pemberton’s and Líl̓wat Nation’s Protocol Agreement (2010) to “recognize and acknowledge that the Líl̓wat Nation asserts aboriginal title to all lands within its traditional territory” and is further reinforced by the following OCP policy: “The Líl̓wat 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 Líl̓wat Nation submitted a crown land application to acquire the lands, following the required due diligence + 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:

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

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

Is this development being considered in the upcoming OCP review?

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, as follows:


  • 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

None of these meetings gave any indication that the proposed update of a new OCP would stall this development application. The applicant, however, understands that recent Village initiatives related to active transportation, affordable housing, daycare, 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 were based on the policies of the 2011 OCP and Village communications.

It is understood that Council has not yet approved the work program for the OCP update and will be considered in a staff report next month. Although the timeline for the update has not been released, typical OCP updates can take one or two years.

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.

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 sidewalks 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 off-site commitments secured by the Village prior to rezoning.

The existing Eagle Drive is quite narrow? Will there be a plan to upgrade this road for pedestrian and cycle traffic?

The status of the Eagle Drive access should consider both from the geotechnical limitations and the existing (municipally approved) road design. The construction of Eagle Drive was the 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. 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. It is understood that additional mitigation may be required to further reduce the potential hazard and to remove the no post (concrete) barriers for an increased road width (shoulder).

As far as the design of the road, it has been engineered to meet municipal requirements for the Phase 1 subdivision and although the design speed is lower 20 km/hr) due to the switchback, the road grades are less than 10%. Nkwúkwma awaits additional direction from the Village related to any further road improvements.

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). 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.

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. Consideration will be given to an emergency access for alternative egress.

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.

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 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?

Potential sharp-tailed snake habitat has been identified. Potential occurrence will be confirmed, in the Spring of 2022. The survey will be conducted Cascade Environmental Resource Group. Cascade associate and sharp-tailed snake expert, Leslie Anthony, will be involved in the survey.

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 recently initiated a Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) model for the catchment area (currently funded by Skénkenam Developments’) that includes the Benchlands. 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 stormwater detention ponds at Staehli Park do not seem to function. Will the development address this?

The Village of Pemberton has recently initiated a Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) study for the catchment area that includes the Benchlands which will address the existing and future use of Staehli Park as a detention basin for the uphill lands. If the existing pond is inadequate for future development, improvements will be at the discretion of the Village.

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.

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 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?

The Village has a Wildfire Management Plan, and the applicant will rely on direction from Village professionals regarding any additional investigations or requirements during development approval process. Wildfire Management may also be addressed through Development Permit Area guidelines and approval.

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 ranges from 20-35% of the lot. The floor area ratios (FAR) have an upward range of 0.5 to 0.6 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 as to maximize 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 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 residential developments. Nkwúkwma will require a new water reservoir to serve homes at higher elevations (refer to the Master Water Distribution Plan in the Nkwúkwma Development Rezoning Servicing Report by InterCAD Services Ltd.).

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: 1.06 ha/2.62 acres – 3%
Nature Park: 10.75 ha /26.56 acres – 34%
Natural Area: 2.99 ha/17.39 acres – 10%
Total: 14.8 ha/45.57 acres – 47%

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 re-rerouted. It is the intent is to have a net gain of trails.

The existing trails of Fat Tug (Section 56 authorization). Banjo, Shots Fired and Chaos are for the most part outside of the development sites. 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.

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 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 Council on how affordable housing should be addressed within Nkwúkwma, consistent with the Community Amenity Contribution policy and the Affordable Housing Plan.

Will there be a housing program for Pemberton residents?

The applicant is seeking the Village’s input on how the affordable and/or community housing can best be addressed through community amenity contributions.

What are the types of housing available?

The design proposes the following housing types:

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

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