Despite concerns raised by citizens about the environmental value of the B.C. Hydro wetland near Nesters, B.C. Transit began grubbing the site last week to build its new bus facility.
Work began as soon as B.C. Hydro gave formal approval to Transit’s use of the site on Thursday, which was the only missing piece of the puzzle.
According to Dag Sharman, senior media relations advisor for B.C. Hydro, officials at both B.C. Hydro and B.C. Transit Corporation found B.C. Transit’s environmental assessment of the land satisfactory.
“They had all the environmental permits that they needed,” said Sharman.
Two top officials from B.C. Transit, CEO and president Manuel Achadinha and vice president Steve New, also presented their plans to Whistler council last week.
At the meeting, council voted 4-2 to formally endorse B.C. Transit’s proposal, although many councillors acknowledged that there was little they could do to change the Crown agency’s decision because the land is exempt from municipal regulations.
But now that site clearing has begun, the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE) has issued a press release stating their “extreme disappointment with B.C. Transit’s recent actions.”
“The damage instilled on the site is now irreversible and we are frustrated that B.C. Transit did not engage in further consultation with the community prior to quickly clearing the site,” said AWARE president Sara Jennings.
The environmental group met Monday evening and decided to continue rallying residents to put pressure on B.C. Transit to save the remaining red-listed Sitka Spruce trees on the site and to minimize any further environmental damage to the wetland.
AWARE has met with Achadinha and told him that they want access to B.C. Transit’s plans as they develop them and access to the B.C. Hydro site. A fence has recently been erected around the property’s boundary.
“It is a done deal but we want the pressure to still be on,” said Pina Belperio from AWARE.
The new bus facility will house the 20 state of the art hydrogen buses coming to Whistler in 2009 as part of a provincially- and federally-funded pilot program.