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Cheakamus owners outraged over asphalt decision

But 150-metre relocation was the only realistic option, says mayor

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After listening to outraged Cheakamus Crossing homeowners vent their concerns regarding the nearby asphalt plant for nearly three hours Tuesday night, a visibly tired Mayor Ken Melamed said there was one thing he would like to stress.

"We are quite sympathetic," Melamed said following Tuesday's council meeting.

"We are not in an argument with the community. We agree with the community and we are not debating the issue. We were faced with one decision and one decision only, and that option goes a long way to address it. It may not go as far as council wanted, but it goes a long way to addressing the issue."

The municipality announced May 13 that it has entered into an agreement with Alpine Paving Ltd. to relocate its asphalt plant 150 metres south of its current site. The agreement includes a stringent new air quality bylaw, to be implemented by the municipality by Oct. 31, that Alpine Paving must comply with.

At the end of the day, council believes Cheakamus Crossing will be a great neighbourhood and a happy place for people to live, said Melamed.

"We have learned about the science and the health and safety, and we hope that people come to terms with their choice and the legacy will prove itself out."

But the deal didn't satisfy many people who will move into their new homes in Cheakamus Crossing this fall.

The anger was tangible during Tuesday's animated meeting which saw 50 emotional homeowners come to MY Millennium Place armed with reasons why an active asphalt plant should not be allowed to operate near their new neighbourhood.

Concerns ranged from the zoning, to how will the new emissions bylaw will be enforced, to the number of trucks travelling the road near Cheakamus Crossing in the summer. Over the course of the evening, 15 individuals got up to the podium to ask their questions - many of them repeatedly.

Patricia Westerholm, one of the most persistent voices throughout the night, expressed her severe disappointment the following morning over mayor and council's decisions.

"I think they paid us lip service in the fall so we would pay our deposits and not make a fuss during the Olympics," said Westerholm, a mother of three who purchased in the Cheakamus Crossing neighourhood. "They have turned around and defied us, and I feel blind-sided, and defeated, and sad."

For her, the issue now goes beyond the asphalt plant.

Among her concerns, she pointed to the fact that council has held 31 public meetings and 45 closed meetings in 2009 and 2010.

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