About 30 Cheakamus Crossing homeowners turned out Saturday afternoon to protest the municipality's response to the asphalt plant.
"I think that something smells. We're not sure what it is yet but it's not just the asphalt plant," said Tim Koshul, spokesperson for the No Asphalt Plant Committee.
He said that people were protesting the municipality's lack of transparency and he hoped that the demonstration would reach a wider audience. With the presence of broadcast media from Vancouver, that mission was likely accomplished.
Despite the 30-degree heat, Tina Symko was dressed in a black suit so as not to appear like a "fear-monger or rabble rouser." She said that she and her husband had been on the Whistler Housing Authority waiting list to buy a home for eight years and now, when they have finally found something suitable, the asphalt plant mars what should have been an exciting time for the young family.
Instead, she said they'll be moving into the house closest to the plant.
"Nobody should really be afraid of the air where they live or play," she said.
Demonstrators were greeted by the supportive honking of car horns from their spot on Highway 99 at Cheakamus Lake Road. They wore large white buttons that read "I © Clean Air." They waved cardboard signs, duct-taped to sticks and tennis rackets, reading "Asphalt Village," "Tourist Destination Asphalt Plant Next Right" and "Really move the plant, Ken."
The Ken in question is Mayor Ken Melamed, who spoke to Global TV on Saturday and said of the agreement between the municipality and Alpine Paving to move the plant 150 metres behind a hill: "We think the prevailing winds are actually going to take whatever comes out of the stack even further away from the village."
"One-hundred-and-fifty metres is a joke as far as I'm concerned," Koshul said.
"It troubles me when one of the neighbours tells me he's walked away from a $30,000 deposit because he has a two-year-old daughter with a respiratory disease," he said. "I mean, in Whistler? We shouldn't have to deal with this. We pride ourselves in being a green community and I'm questioning if it's green for the environment or green for money."
Koshul admitted that he didn't know there was an asphalt plant in the area ("Buyer beware, I know," he said, smiling) until the issue surfaced.
"Whether it was mentioned in a little line in my contract is a moot point," he said. "They promised us multiple times that they would move it. Nowhere did they say 'just a little bit up the hill.'"