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Asphalt plant move, quarry expansion delayed

Contentious proposal will come back before council at Aug. 17 meeting



The proposed move of Whistler's asphalt plant and expansion of a basalt quarry ground to a screeching halt Tuesday night after council came to a stalemate on the bylaws.

The contentious report was sent back to staff with the expectation that revised information will come to council in two weeks and the bylaws will be given initial approval at that time.

"The majority of council continues to be in support generally of the agreement," an exhausted Mayor Ken Melamed clarified after the meeting. "Council's decision in the debate really is reflective of the recognition of the anxiety in the community around the importance of the decision."

Fifty residents sat in the audience at MY Millennium Place while many more watched online as councillors Ralph Forsyth, Eckhard Zeidler and Grant Lamont voted against giving first and second reading to the proposal. Ted Milner was absent from the meeting.

Tim Koshul, the unofficial spokesperson for the concerned group of Cheakamus Crossing residents, said he is comforted that the proposal is not being pushed through. But he cautioned that it is not yet time to pop open bottles of champagne.

"I am pleased in the fact that people are going to take a little more time to look at this," said Koshul, who sat in the front row during the meeting. "It was so concerning to read on Friday that we are doing first and second reading on something I believe we need to put the brakes on and take a closer look at."

The exact numbers around a newly-proposed quarry expansion was one of the contentious issues.

Tuesday night was the first time council spoke about increasing the size of Whistler Aggregate's basalt quarry in the Crown Land next to the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood.

Since the province is responsible for that expansion, the municipal government has limited control on what that size could be, although it can try to intervene if needed.

"That is what the applicant has asked the province for in the new lease area," said Bill Brown, manager of community planning for the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

Even though their hands were tied, most councillors appeared to be against the proposed expansion, with Councillor Chris Quinlan stating: "I don't support doubling the size of a quarry next to a residential area no matter what the outcome for the asphalt plant there."

Municipal staff also changed some of the numbers surrounding the expansion before the start of the meeting, causing confusion around the council table. Brown and planning analyst Kevin Creery attempted to do the revised calculations on the spot before Melamed asked them to finish the math after the meeting without the pressure.

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