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'Chicken Coops' owners ordered to clean up condos

Fire Chief concerned about potential fire hazards in derelict building



Whistler's Fire Chief Rob Whitton has ordered the owners of a strata complex in Creekside to get their property up to scratch.

The derelict building behind the Husky gas station is covered in graffiti and has broken windows. Most tenants have been evicted in anticipation of redevelopment of the site. But Whitton is concerned as winter approaches.

"The last thing we want to have is someone squatting in there and starting a fire," said Whitton, who sent a letter to the dozen owners on Sept. 24.

At that time he gave them 30 days to fix up the property and will be inspecting the progress later this week.

It's not just the security and potential fire risk the fire chief is worried about.

There is asbestos in the walls and garbage lying around, attracting rodents. In addition to the fire safety issues, the municipality also has an "unsightly bylaw."

The condition of the units, known as the "chicken coops," has raised the ire of some neighbours. In a letter to council last week, Garry Watson and Anne Popma appealed for intervention.

"We are now advised by the tenant living in the only portion of the building that is still habitable that the owners do not intend to proceed until next spring," they wrote. "In the meantime, the entire neighbourhood continues to suffer the visual annoyance and constant embarrassment of this blight on the landscape."

Whitton has not heard back from the strata officially but has spoken to one owner. It appears that efforts are being made to clean up the site.

If the owners need more time, Whitton said he's not opposed to that. If steps aren't taken, however, the fire department will take things into its own hands.

"If they don't do those things, at the very least we can do the work and then back charge the strata for that," said Whitton, adding that the costs, if not paid, will be added to property taxes.

Air quality report raises eyebrows

A Cheakamus Crossing resident calls Whistler's air quality gauge "the monitor of false hope," given recordings show air quality "significantly better" than provincial objectives.

"I was taken aback by this," said Tim Koshul of the report brought to council last week. "It just doesn't make sense to me."

Since September 2010, Whistler has been monitoring the air in the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood, close to the asphalt plant.

The monitor sits atop the High Performance Centre building.

The latest numbers detail two Ambient Air Quality Objectives set by the provincial Ministry of Environment.

The first is that 98 per cent of the measured 24-hour averages are below 25 μg/m3. At Cheakamus, the 24-hour averages were below 12.9 μg/m3 "well below the limit set by the air quality objective" states the report to council.

The second is that annual average for PM2.5 is less than 8 μg/m3. The measured annual average at Cheakamus Crossing was 5.4 μg/m3 "also well below the air quality objective" states the report.

Koshul said there was far less activity at the plant and quarry this year compared to previous years, based on his own observations. The position of the monitor, he added, is not in the direction of the prevailing winds. "It's not where the plume (from the plant) goes or where the dust goes," said Koshul.

There's no doubt in his mind that there are dust and particles in the air because of the neighbourhood's proximity to a heavy industrial operation.

"You can't deny that those thing don't exist," he said.

Council did not comment on the report at the Oct. 15 council meeting.

Koshul said he appreciates the work from council — requiring that any municipal asphalt come from a plant that is not within three kilometres of a residential neighbourhood, effectively cutting out Whistler's plant and forcing the asphalt to come from the Squamish plant for any municipal contracts.


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