In light of recent documents obtained through the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act confirming that the zoning of the land where the current asphalt plant operates clearly does not permit asphalt manufacturing, I would request that the Resort Municipality of Whistler reconsider its recent agreement with Alpine Paving Ltd.
Furthermore, I would request that the Resort Municipality of Whistler exercise its legal option to seek a court order to force the closure of the asphalt manufacturing plant in its current location on the basis that it does not meet the zoning requirements.
The original rezoning amendment application was filed March 16, 1998 by the owner of the land and indicated that the rezoning application was required because the intended use included: "Manufacturing and Processing of asphalt and redi-mix concrete, the storage of related equipment."
A May 28, 1998 memo from the Resort Municipality of Whistler to the Advisory Planning Commission outlined the following:
"On March 16, 1998 Sabre Transport Ltd. applied to the municipality to amend the zoning on their licence of occupation area near the municipal landfill south of Whistler... This quarry is known as W6... The IP1 zoning permits the manufacturing and processing of gravel and aggregates and the storage of related equipment. Ready mix concrete nor asphalt production is currently a permitted use in this zone."
That report concludes with the following statement: "This report is presented to the Advisory Planning Commission for comment regarding the suitability of the proposed zoning amendment to the IP1 zone, which would permit the installation and operation of both ready-mix concrete and asphalt production facilities, and the storage of related equipment."
On June 3, 1998, the RMOW planning department issued a letter to the owner of the land, stating that the Advisory Planning Commission had reviewed the IP1 zoning amendment application and wished to summarize the comments and concerns expressed at that meeting. The letter states the following: "The main concern raised by the commission has to do with the compliance of the existing operation. There is concern with the environmental conditions surrounding Alpine Paving Ltd.'s operation... Alpine Paving is currently a tenant of Sabre's and does not have a permit. Even as Sabre is attempting to include asphalt processing in the IP1 zone to bring this use into conformance, the commission is concerned that the regulations of the Waste Management Act with respect to asphalt processing are not being followed. Since Alpine Paving is currently an illegal use, no permit and therefore no regulations have been followed in Alpine's setup or operation."
These documents clearly state that the municipality, the landowner and the plant operator were aware that asphalt manufacturing was not a permitted use under the IP1 zoning. It never was and it never has been.
In September, 1998, the staff report recommending first and second reading of the proposed IP1 zoning amendments to allow for asphalt manufacturing was removed from the council agenda because there remained a number of outstanding concerns.
And, in September, 2000, the owner submitted a letter to the RMOW planning department indicating that he had "no further interest in pursuing the rezoning application 272 Asphalt/ Concrete" and instructing municipal staff to "please close the file."
To the best of my knowledge, the IP1 zoning was never amended to include asphalt manufacturing. The asphalt plant operates on land zoned IP1.
If you would like to review the documents in their entirety, they are posted on the Cheakamus Crossing Facebook page for your convenience.
To reiterate, I am requesting at this time that the Resort Municipality of Whistler reconsider its recent agreement with Alpine Paving Ltd. and exercise its legal option to force the closure of the asphalt plant on the basis that it does not meet the zoning requirements.
To my fellow Whistlerites, if you too feel that heavy industry such as asphalt manufacturing does not belong in Whistler within mere metres of childrens' play areas, residential housing, an international hostel and an athletes' training facility, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your letters of concern. If you think the RMOW should recognize that the current asphalt plant operates illegally and take appropriate action, please make yourself heard. Be sure to address your letters to mayor and council and include your name and return address. This is an issue that affects our entire community, not just residents of Cheakamus Crossing. Poor air quality knows no boundaries. Dangerous emissions from the asphalt plant may hit Cheakamus Crossing first, but make no mistake: they get to the rest of the community as well. And the fact remains: the asphalt plant is located on land zoned IP1 which clearly does not allow for asphalt manufacturing.
Divided we stand
Congratulations Whistler for fast becoming a real Shakespearean town. I read the news with delight that our library has received a collection of the Bard's best a few months back. I would recommend our Mayor, council and the senior municipal staff to read Romeo and Juliet . Perhaps they all can learn something from it.
Social division of life in a wealthy community like Whistler, just as in Romeo and Juliet 's town of Verona, can sometimes form the basis of harmful patterns of thinking and behavior. This seems to be spreading with frightening speed lately as cracks appear in the social cohesion and fabric of Whistler.
Reading Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet could help to address this issue, which revolves not around sex and violence but rather around a deep-seated perception of us vs. them.
Those on one side who believe an asphalt factory in Whistler that produces a brew of deadly particulates should not be operating in this valley versus those who declare that once the plant is updated the air around it would be better to breathe then the air around the Meadow Park Sport Centre. The numbers, however, do not add up here.
Although Meadow Park is located close to the highway and the bus depot, a source of much air pollution as the municipality's man of science Mr. Kim pointed out, so is almost every subdivision within the RMOW. And did the municipality not just spend close to a million dollars for a greener, less polluting, and more sustainable system to warm the swimming pool and showers? And should not the brand new bus depot that houses the greenest hydrogen bus fleet on the planet help create cleaner air around Meadow Park?
There are those who believe that these deadly particulates would affect only the new neighborhood of Cheakamus Crossing versus those who think they will not hang around the asphalt plant but rather drift up the valley on the prevailing wind of summer which tends to bring it closer to Whistler rather then taking them away. These particulates unfortunately do not make the distinction between the old and young, the healthy and frail, the rich and poor. These particulates do not make a distinction between Cheakamus Crossing and the new Rainbow development or anything in between - including the most expensive neighborhoods of Whistler. These particulates have been polluting Whistler every time the plant is fired up for some 20 years without anyone's knowledge up until recently.
Now that this issue is in the open surely it will bring people together and galvanize Whistler to protect what we have here and what we all depend on to be here - the tourism - instead of tearing this community apart.
This should not be a problem between people who bought homes in Cheakamus Crossing and the RMOW. It is an issue with long-term health, social and financial impacts on the whole community.
Some people will disagree with no matter what the final decision by the council will be, as Mr. Melamed pointed it out. But will it be the right of Mr. Silveri to keep operating the asphalt plant or the right of every visitor and taxpayer of Whistler for healthier air to breathe?
I wish and hope that council will make the right decision that will prevent further division in Whistler. Just as in Romeo and Juliet, whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families, this decision would also help to begin the healing process, which this town is in desperate need.
Powerline play areas not safe
To the Mayor and Council, Village of Pemberton;
I am writing to you today to express my concerns regarding the site of your up-and-coming Pemberton Skateboard Park.
The proposed site for the Pemberton Skateboard Park on Portage Road is located directly beside an electrical tower that could expose users to electromagnetic fields ranging from 9.6 milligauss (mG) to 21.6 mG, according to measurements I conducted at the site.
In the 2002 edition of the EMF Electric and Magnetic Fields Associated with the Use of Electric Power handbook provided by B.C. Hydro, it states that relatively heavy average exposures of a power frequency of 4 mG or more are associated with a doubling of the risk of leukemia in children under 15 years of age. The proposed site for the skateboard park would therefore be exposing users to power frequencies well over the 4 mG limit that is considered safe.
I have provided copies of my working sheets showing the calculations to the Mayor and some council members so I trust you still have them, or they can easily be provided again. The numbers of my measurements are conservative, seeing that B.C. Hydro's own pamphlet given out to people who borrow their EMF meter show the typical electric and magnetic field strengths associated with comparable transmission lines to which we are concerned have a reading of 97 mG underneath and 33 mG at the edge of the " right-of-way". If the hydro wires were ever changed to the 500 kV wires, magnetic field exposure would be increased dramatically to approximately 176 mG directly underneath the wires.
In addition to concerns regarding the health effects of electromagnetic field exposure, the proposed skateboard park site is on wet ground, costly to engineer, excavate, and then fill with drain rock in order to create sufficient drainage. There is a site at Pioneer Park, right behind the Municipal Offices, across from the Pemberton Hotel that would be ideal for a new Skateboard Park. This site has existing greenery, existing washroom facilities and a beautiful gazebo for spectators. Also capital investment for this new location should be far easier to raise because of its international appeal.
Taking a stand against the tar sands
I would like to thank LUSH for their proactive stand in protesting the tar sands development in Alberta. What a breath of fresh air to see a little political activism coming out of the free enterprise sector. I urge everybody to go give a vote of appreciation with your wallets, flowers, bottles of wine or whatever down at LUSH.
It's a shame our votes elsewhere don't add up to much as I doubt anything will change the attitude of the current Harper government which has proven to be nothing more than a bunch of belligerent global warming deniers keen on marching us down the usual path to the End Times. When pressed, the best they can do is dump a few million of our tax dollars into some carbon sequestration research scheme that gives more licence to ramp up tar sands production. The least they could do is cap further development, halt the flow of subsidies and squeeze Suncor and the rest like a lemon to fund some real alternate energy and transportation development. In this day and age only a Neanderthal can't see the imperative sense in such a line of action.
John Weston, what is your stand on the tar sands and the Enbridge pipeline sending Bitumen to China? All systems normal? I recommend
taking a cue from Blair Lekstrom and dump the Harper Conservatives!
ISU tough but fair
I read the article on "ISU Lawsuit Chalets in Forclosure". I own a second home in Whistler and rented it out to the ISU and had a very positive experience. They could not have been more professional and courteous. I signed my contract in 2008, but it was subject to many conditions. They did a detailed inspection of my property in the spring of 2009 and took many photos inside and out. It was scheduled in advance so there was no surprise. I made sure it presented well. They also inspected my property again prior to the usage as a precaution.
When I asked, they said if any property condition was of concern they would arrange for a separate team to do a further inspection. To protect the taxpayers' money, and for health and safety reasons of ISU members, they said they could not take any chances and checked out the owner and the property whenever it was felt necessary.
They did the right thing. The contract and payments were conditional on a satisfactory inspection, which could be done anytime with or without notice prior to any payment or usage. They said that was a requirement because if a property was not maintained it could degrade over time to a point of being unsuitable.
The ISU contract requirements were tough, with many grounds for voiding the contract if there was any risk. There were the main contract requirements and supplemental conditions. This was all on the federal government website so it was public information. Some of the escape conditions included listing the property, owner insolvency or assignment to creditors and foreclosure. Although my rental contract is over, I signed a confidentiality agreement, so would prefer to have my name withheld.
History is now
In a place as dynamic as Whistler, a museum is vital for documenting history as we progress so quickly, losing long-time locals to illness, old age and distance. While our community continues to expand and people come and go, the museum documents events and those responsible in honour of their contribution to the community.
The Whistler Museum recognizes the importance of our lineage responsible for present day Whistler, and this Canada Day we invite you to visit the Whistler Museum to learn about our past. Canada Day is an excellent chance to explore Whistler's unique history and learn the stories of our beloved founders. We are open by donation from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and we will also have a booth set up on the Village Stroll with information packages, and arts and crafts for kids. Happy Canada Day Whistler and best wishes for an amazing weekend!
The Whistler Museum