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Forsyth's asphalt motion not meant to be

Proposal to enforce existing zoning bylaw died quietly



Ralph Forsyth needs to clear the air. The councillor has received numerous messages via e-mail and Facebook asking him why he killed his motion to make the municipality enforce zoning at the asphalt plant.

"There needs to be some clarity, I think," he said. "I didn't remove it from the table. I made a motion and it wasn't seconded."

Without a seconder the motion died, eliminating the final opportunity for council to force the asphalt plant to move. It was an opportunity the rest of council stated emphatically in their silence was not an option.

It's not uncommon for a councillor to second a motion for discussion, even though they may be opposed to the motion. However, at council's Oct. 5 meeting there wasn't any appetite to even talk about Forsyth's motion.

Forsyth isn't disappointed, exactly. He can't say "one way or the other" what his feelings are on the matter because his feelings have nothing to do with it.

"If council's not ready to move on it then I understand," he said.

He said he doesn't know if he'll raise the motion again at some point in the future. It all depends on how events play out.

"All we've done here is press the reset button, so I guess they want to take time to consider what our next moves are and what Alpine Paving's next moves are," he said.

Enforcing zoning at the site of the asphalt plant has been a contentious issue. The public has demanded that the bylaw be enforced since the land is not zoned for industrial use. The Resort Municipality of Whistler, however, has said that enforcing the bylaw and compelling Alpine Paving to move would likely result in an expensive lawsuit against the RMOW.

The reasons behind this have not been made public, and are the nature of the confidential information that the RMOW's lawyer, Don Lidstone, referred to in a legal opinion letter to RMOW CAO Bill Barratt.

Councillor Chris Quinlan told Pique days before the Oct. 5 council meeting that he was certain the motion to enforce the existing zoning bylaw would be defeated if it ever came to a vote. And at this point there are no ideas as to what the municipality's next steps are.

"There is no better idea and staff's not bringing anything forward because we haven't directed them to," Quinlan said.

Nor is there any possibility of renegotiating with Alpine Paving owner Frank Silveri.

Negotiations between the two parties had been "intense," Quinlan said, right up until the Sept. 21 vote that saw a package of bylaws defeated. It doesn't appear that Silveri is open to more discussions.

Quinlan said he "imagines" there is some anger on Silveri's part.

"You get a guy (who's) 15 years into a business, then we plop a neighbourhood down beside him, all of a sudden he's trying to clean it up."

There has been an upside to the debacle. Since the rezoning bylaw package was rejected, Quinlan has run into one of the people who was opposed to the rezoning and it was all hugs and good cheer. It proved to him that people were appreciating the fact that it was all part of a process.

"It's not personal and it should never be personal. It's not what this is about," he said. "When you get personal, people start to assume that they have more power or control over things, and that's when it gets into trouble."