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Agreement reached to move asphalt plant

New air quality bylaw comes into effect Oct. 31; plant must be moved by April 30, 2011




Cheakamus Crossing residents have been good and heard.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) announced late Thursday, May 13 that it has entered into a agreement with Alpine Paving Ltd. to relocate its asphalt plant 150 metres south of its current site. The agreement comes as the municipality adopts a new air quality bylaw that will be implemented Oct. 31.

A news release from the RMOW stated that the new site will place the plant further away from the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood, behind a large hill near the wastewater treatment plant and not visible from any residences.

"Council has listened to the community and considered the options available," said Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed, who previously opposed a motion at council to move the plant by June 1. Last month it became clear the plant wouldn't be moved by June 1.

"We believe that we have come to the most workable solution for the community and the business owner. We will improve air quality for the entire community and achieve this shortly after residents move in to the new Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood."

The agreement states that Alpine Paving must move the plant to its new site by April 30, 2011; complete major paving projects by Sept. 30 of this year; and cease manufacturing asphalt at the current site by Nov. 30, 2010.

Alpine Paving is also being directed to carry out site preparation for the facility so that the company is ready for the 2011 paving season. The municipality will implement a zoning amendment by Oct. 31 to allow the relocation.

The municipality will also adopt a new emissions control bylaw by Oct. 31 this year. The bylaw will set the same emission criteria as Metro Vancouver, which the municipality calls the "strictest in the province." Ambient air testing will begin at Cheakamus Crossing in the spring of 2011.

To meet the new emission standards Alpine Paving will upgrade its facility with a baghouse and other infrastructure or equipment. The new baghouse - a fabric filter system - removes and collects dust particulates from the plant. According to the RMOW's release this system is considered 90 per cent more effective than the current wet scrubber system, which involves droplets of water being sprayed into the exhaust to remove particulates.

Details relating to the relocation and the new air quality bylaw will be presented to council at its May 18 meeting, at 5:30 p.m. at MY Millennium Place. An open house will be held Thursday, May 20 in the athletes' centre at Cheakamus Crossing, between 5 and 7:30 p.m.

Asked how much it would cost the RMOW to move the plant, a municipal spokesperson said financial terms of the agreement were confidential and would not be disclosed to the public.

They did, however, say that the municipality had spent between $30,000 and $40,000 on background studies into the possibility of moving the asphalt plant and it's anticipated Alpine Paving Ltd. will spent between $1 million and $2 million to meet air quality standards under the new bylaw.

Plant owner Frank Silveri previously estimated that it could cost millions to move the plant, but who, precisely, is paying for the move is unclear.

The move comes after a lengthy back-and-forth at Whistler council about the fate of the plant. Hundreds of homeowners in Cheakamus Crossing appeared at a Nov. 17, 2009 council meeting with concerns about air quality and toxicity from the plant. All were made aware of the plant when they signed disclosure statements.


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