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Corridor’s air quality should be considered

Decision on Brackendale asphalt plant still months away



An air pollution expert from the Ministry of Land, Water and Air Protection has warned provincial authorities to use caution when approving industrial developments in the Sea to Sky corridor prior to the Olympics.

The warnings come two months after it became public that a company based in Armstrong had submitted an application to Land and Water B.C. to build a portable asphalt plant close to two schools in Brackendale.

Okanagan Aggregates applied to open a new plant on Crown land in Brackendale on March 29. The decision to approve the application rests with LWBC.

Squamish council has sent a letter to LWBC expressing concern over the proposal. Scores of Squamish residents have also registered their concern.

Despite Brackendale’s location Stephanie Meyn, who is an air quality meteorologist for Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, said the air quality in the Sea to Sky corridor was about the same as it is in Vancouver and authorities need to be careful what they allow to be built here.

"I don’t think air quality management plans are designed to say we don’t want any industry, but at the same time if Squamish feels that the benefits don’t outweigh the negatives then there should be careful consideration given," Meyn said.

"I can’t say it’s (an asphalt plant) a bad idea but I can say it will result in increasing emissions.

"They may want to be careful in considering where they locate it and how long it operates and what conditions are put on that operation if they chose they even want it in that region."

Meyn said any general air contaminants generated by the plant would disappear once the plant was removed but other chemicals would not disappear so easily.

"If there are other toxins, then those can live in the environment longer, and if you add greenhouse gases there can be a lot of action on many different levels," she said.

Andrew Upper from LWBC said the application was still in its early stages and deliberation on this matter would probably continue into late summer.

"At this point we’re in the information-gathering stage, which includes receiving comment from the public and any local government involved," Upper said.

Upper said LWBC would consider a number of issues, including the fact that there needs to be some kind of balance between development and the environment prior to the Olympics.

"We’ve got an application for industrial use for an asphalt plant and storage centre on a 4.1 hectare area.

"We’re dealing with forested land and a significant amount of other forestry issues as well as the fact that there is some interest in recreation in the area.

"The (the application) will still be subject to all authorities and all legislation decisions under the Land Act.

"Just because we might allow projects to move forward doesn’t relieve any client from their responsibilities."

Upper said the best action any concerned residents can take is to send letters to LWBC.

"Any and all means for comment will be accepted," he said.

If Okanagan Aggregates’ application is approved they will be in competition with Alpine Paving, which is the main paving company in Squamish.

Alpine Paving did not return the Pique Newsmagazine’s calls.