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Zoning matters when it comes to asphalt

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It might be nerve-wracking for Whistler residents to read the recent media coverage about Frank Silveri's affidavit submitted for the upcoming asphalt plant court case. At first glance, it sounds like Mr. Silveri is pretty confident in his right to operate his asphalt plant at the current site and his affidavit appears packed with "evidence." But when you take a closer look at the information included in his affidavit (and more importantly, the information that is not included), it's increasingly clear to me that Silveri's case doesn't have much of a leg to stand on.

With all the twists, turns and cloak and dagger conspiracy drama in this asphalt plant saga, it's easy to lose sight of the main issue at hand. The key question of this upcoming court case is quite simple: does the RMOW zoning bylaw IP1 permit asphalt manufacturing or not? I've read the bylaw about a hundred times and while I'm no legal eagle it really doesn't seem that complicated. For those of you who haven't read it, here's what the IP1 bylaw says:

Intent - The intent of this zone is to provide for the manufacture and processing of gravel and aggregate in a manner that does not detract from the natural environment or the livability of the Resort Municipality of Whistler...

Permitted Uses - 3.1 The following uses are permitted and all others are prohibited: a) manufacturing and processing of gravel and aggregate; and b) storage of industrial machinery, equipment and supplies related to the manufacturing and processing of gravel and aggregate.

The words "asphalt plant" or "asphalt manufacturing" or anything at all to do with asphalt do not appear in this bylaw. Interestingly, Mr. Silveri did not include a copy of the actual zoning bylaw in his affidavit.

Bill Barratt, former RMOW CAO, is famously quoted last summer as saying they had an opinion that stated, "If the Resort Municipality wants to be certain that asphalt plant processing is not permitted in the proposed zone, it should expressly exclude asphalt processing from the list of permitted uses in the zone."

I have read a few other zoning bylaws for residential areas, the village pedestrian core and the small commercial areas around town, and nowhere have I found any mention of asphalt processing specifically being a prohibited use. A simple extension of Mr. Barratt's backwards logic would lead to the conclusion that anything is a permitted use anywhere in Whistler unless it is specifically excluded in the relevant zoning bylaw. So go ahead; open your strip club in Alpine Meadows, crack open that casino in Emerald and let's top it off with a large-scale cattle slaughterhouse in Blueberry Hill.

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