Pemberton Downtown Community Barn
Pemberton, British Columbia
The Pemberton Downtown Community Barn provides a welcoming and central gathering space for residents and visitors of all ages. This gorgeous 50 ft. x 150 ft. open air timber frame structure was built in traditional barn-raising style, made possible by the expertise of the Timber Framers Guild, the enthusiasm of community volunteers, and the generous funding support of the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation. The open air concept floods the space with natural light and preserves the stunning mountain views during the day. Local lighting designers and metal smiths have further enhanced the space with elegant and CSA certified lighting fixtures, including 3 pendants and 22 sconces, giving the space a warm glow in the evening. The Barn enhances our downtown neighbourhood, while promoting our community’s rich pioneer and farming heritage, our budding arts and cultural sector, and our youth.
Events and Festivals
Between late-May and mid-October, the Pemberton Farmers’ Market uses the space every Friday afternoon and evening. The Barn also hosts and supports other events including: the Pemberton Youth Soccer Bottle Drive; Bike to Work Week Wrap Up and Clean Air Day; the Father Daughter Dance; the Barnburner Triple; the Seniors Society Flea Markets; and the Fall Barn Dance. It is also available for private events such as weddings, art exhibitions and fundraisers. Community consultation and stakeholder engagement is ongoing towards developing further programming for the Barn.
Built in the timber framing tradition, this space embodies our community’s history and humble beginnings as a logging and farming community. As a barn, this structure celebrates our proud farming heritage and present day character, and is a natural location for the Farmers’ Market. Finally, the manner in which it was conceived and erected was truly a community effort, beginning with extensive community consultation and visioning exercises for our downtown core, and finishing with a communal barn raising; a nod to our pioneer roots. The creation of this space demonstrates our indomitable spirit as a small community that can accomplish big things by working together.
The idea of the Pemberton Downtown Community Barn began in 2009, when community groups and businesses worked with a design consultant to develop the Downtown Enhancement Strategy. In 2010, considerable community engagement resulted in a Frontier Street Master Plan, which addressed the need for a public outdoor community space in the form of a structure with exposed post and beam construction. Later in 2012, the Timber Framers Guild accepted Pemberton’s invitation to help build the Barn. The construction was a twelve day barn raising that offered opportunities to participate in educational timber frame construction workshops. In the spring of 2013, the Village convened a working group to draw support and input on the project. This working group included members of the Pemberton Rotary Club, the Pemberton Farmers’ Institute, Village of Pemberton Cultural Roundtable, Winds of Change, Pemberton Legion, Pemberton & District Chamber of Commerce, and Tourism Pemberton. Under the leadership of the Village, the working group coordinated the construction of the project and the hosting event. The project officially got underway in late 2013 when the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation approved a grant of $240,000 towards the project. The Foundation recognized the value-added aspect of this project (through community donations and the Timber Framer Guild’s involvement) and its ability to enhance the vitality of downtown by offering a covered community space for activities such as the Farmers’ Market, special events, dances, festivals, picnics and performances. In 2014, the Pemberton Downtown Community Barn was completed, transforming Pemberton’s downtown through the provision of a highly attractive gathering space and entry feature, which were key community recommendations of the downtown enhancement planning.
The Barn is located in the heart of Pemberton’s downtown and as a large (50 ft. x 50 ft.) open air structure on ground level is fully accessible to all users. Vehicle parking and bikes racks are set on the periphery of the space, and it is within walking distance of public transportation and all community amenities (including pharmacy, grocery store, restaurants, community centre, and hospital). Surrounding the Barn is a newly developed green space that offers a unique outdoor seating area where residents and visitors can sit and enjoy the incredible Pemberton Valley views of Mount Currie.
Pemberton’s Downtown Community Barn is fully accessible and is a beautiful space enjoyed by residents and visitors of all ages. Bike racks and picnic tables, as well as proximity to local coffee shops, eateries and grocery stores make this a popular lunch time spot for families, seniors and professionals out on their lunch break. Its proximity to Pemberton Secondary School also makes it popular with high school students. It was recently used for the opening ceremony of the Annual 24 Hour Drumming Event, organized by the Pala7lhkalh Stélmexw, a First Nations youth group. Programming is being developed that will target various age groups. Ideas include: animating the Friday evening Farmers’ Market with cooking demonstrations; music and live art demonstrations; working with the Pemberton Arts and Culture Council to create wind breaks designed by local arts; exploring the installation of an ice surface for skating and curling in the winter; community flea market; BBQs and other food-based events; and as a staging area for sporting events.
Recognition of the Barn as a Great Place in Canada would wonderfully honour the Timber Framers Guild and all of the volunteers that worked so hard to create this incredible space. It would also attract visitors to our small town, supporting the local economy and showcasing our small town hospitality and other community offerings. Sharing the concept of this space with other communities would hopefully inspire similar efforts and demonstrate that much can be accomplished when everyone works together.