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Asphalt coming from Squamish for public works contract



Whistler can get its asphalt cheaper, but not at the cost of upsetting Cheakamus Crossing residents.

On Tuesday council approved a $55,000 increase in cost to buy asphalt from Alpine Paving's Squamish plant for all municipal road and trail reconstruction in 2012. The Whistler plant, which has long supplied the annual municipal contract, won't be getting the work.

"Our ultimate goal, working with Mr. (Frank) Silveri (owner of Alpine Paving) is to have the asphalt plant leave the neighbourhood," explained Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden of the decision to spend more to truck the asphalt from Squamish.

"In the meantime, the less it operates at that location, the better, as far as the neighbourhood is concerned."

The public road and trail reconstruction tender was issued five weeks ago.

Two bids came into the hall for the roughly 18,000 square metres of roads and trails. That's approximately two kilometres of municipal roadway, explained the municipality's manager of environmental projects James Hallisey to council.

Alpine's bid was $666,484. Keywest Asphalt bid $784,519 for the same work.

Then Alpine submitted an alternate pricing — $611,848 to supply the asphalt from the new Whistler plant. But that goes against the new council policy to only accept asphalt made in locations away from existing neighbourhoods.

This is the first contract awarded to Alpine Paving since the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) lost the court case against the company earlier this year to move the plant's operations.

In January a BC Supreme Court judge ruled that the asphalt plant is zoned to operate next to the new Cheakamus Crossing neighourhood, built for the 2010 Games. The RMOW abandoned an appeal in the courts, choosing instead to negotiate with the owner.

When asked about those discussions after the council meeting, CAO Mike Furey confirmed that they're ongoing.

"At this time we're continuing our conversations with (Silveri) about how we're going to work together," he said.

As of last week, Furey said, the plant with its new upgraded equipment was not yet operating.

When asked about using the Whistler plant once it's upgraded, the mayor said:

"Let's see what it looks like and smells like (when the plant fires up). There may be a reconsideration at that point but we're not there yet."

Vehicle replacement policy under fire

The roughly $1 million annual cost to keep the municipal vehicle fleet up to date has raised the ire of at least one community member.

Resident Dave Buzzard questioned the municipal policy during Tuesday's council question and answer period.

In particular, he asked about the three trucks up for sale on the municipality's website — a 2004 Ford F250, a 2005 Ford F450 and a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado.

"Those trucks seem perfectly fine on the face of it," Buzzard said to council. "Why do they need to be replaced?"

He was told that a report on the vehicle replacement policy would be presented to council in the coming months.

"There's an optimization point on which you replace vehicles," said Joe Paul, general manager of infrastructure services.

At the same time, Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden thanked Buzzard for the comments.

"I hear what you're saying," she said. It's a lot of money and does it make sense?"

Mayor has a dig at downloading

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden didn't mince her words when it came to the municipality's report on potential hazards and the risks they pose to the community.

After hearing the presentation on the municipality Hazard, Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (HRVA), an assessment mandated by the provincial government, the mayor said: "This is a classic case of downloading."

The work on hazard assessments was once done by the province and is now done by communities via a HRVA Toolkit.

The assessment identified 32 hazards in Whistler, five with a high rating. These include: interface fire, earthquake, volcano, interruption to water supply, and snowstorm.

The mayor asked staff if Whistler gets any funding for training for emergency preparedness.

She was told that this is the last year for federal funding while the province funds some training.

Her response: "This is what we call mandate creep at work."

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