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Angry Cheakamus residents to take to the streets



Future Cheakamus Crossing residents mad at the municipality for recent decisions over the asphalt plant will take their fight to a new level this weekend.

Tim Koshul, spokesperson for the No Asphalt Plant (NAP) group, announced a "gathering" will take place this Saturday between 10:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the corner of Function Junction and Highway 99. The protest will be an expression of concern about the asphalt plant operating near the new neighbourhood.

Koshul said about 40 to 50 homeowners and community members are expected to show up wielding signs with statements like "Don't choke us out," "Something stinks and it is not just asphalt" and "Asphalt plants and neighbourhoods don't mix."

Free refreshments will be served and a security officer will be on hand to make sure the gathering doesn't interfere with traffic.

"We want to make sure it is a calm, organized gathering," explained Koshul.

Issues that residents hope to bring to light include the Resort Municipality of Whistler's plans to rezone an area for the asphalt plant that is only 150 metres from the plant's current site and the $400,000 the municipality has spent on "legal fees."

"It is really motivated by neighbours who keep saying, 'This is wrong,'" explained Koshul. "It is another opportunity to meet some neighbours and continue to get our message across that there is something not right here."

While the gathering will mark the first time the residents have taken to the streets, it is not the first time they have considered civil protest.

The idea came up nine months ago when 100 residents stormed a council meeting after realizing the asphalt plant sat so close to their newly purchased homes in the athletes' village.

They decided not to go through with their plans, however, when council vowed the long-running plant, owned by Alpine Paving Ltd., would be moved away from the neighbourhood.

Some homeowners also considered demonstrating just before their second deposits were due this spring. But that plan was put on hold when the municipality said the plant would be relocated no later than June 1.

"So there have been two conversations in the past about doing what we are doing now, and both were stopped due to the fact that we were led to believe that it was going to move," said Koshul.

"We haven't heard anything this time around that would stop us from wanting to go forward with this one. The banter hasn't changed since the June 1 announcement, and it hasn't given us any warm and fuzzy feelings."

He added a new crop of people is starting to voice outrage over the situation.

Koshul has begun receiving e-mails and phone calls from people who weren't part of the original group of residents. He believes these new advocates are coming out of the woodwork because they are fed up after reading about the situation for the past nine months and realizing that the municipality's claims in November don't line up with what is happening today.

"Certainly there are days when you are very frustrated and you just want to scream in your home because you just read an e-mail from the Resort Municipality of Whistler or a press briefing," said Koshul. "I want to let the municipality know that I am frustrated."

Koshul posted the gathering announcement on the Cheakamus Crossing group's Facebook page last Sunday.

He followed up later in the week by sending a carefully crafted press release to media groups throughout the Lower Mainland.

Four days before the event, the voice behind the NAP committee added he is happy to pour his own money and time into organizing because he believes in the fight so strongly.

"I went to get a banner made the other day at a sign company with "Asphalt Village" on it," said Koshul. "It was $150, and I think it was well worth it."