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Lot 1/9 construction quietly continues

So far, 80 per cent of trees removed from site that will become Celebration Plaza

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Most of the wood harvested from the Lot 1/9 site will be reused, according to resort parks planner for the municipality Martin Pardoe.

The cedar and spruce trees, which began coming down last week, will be milled locally and held by the municipality for future projects, including the Celebration Plaza. Cottonwood trees will travel south to Scott Paper Limited in New Westminster.

Other organic material, like leaves and branches, will be chipped and taken to a composter near Squamish to make biosolids. The municipality chose not to take the organic material down to the new composter in the Callaghan because of its anticipated bulk.

“I don’t have any statistics at this point in time,” said Pardoe on exactly how much vegetation will be reused.

“We would like to use all that (cedar and spruce) wood on site, but at this point we don’t know how much value there is.”

Trees that contain rot, however, will probably not be reused, depending on the degree of decomposition.

“If you have an apple, you cut out the rotten bit and see what is left. Same idea here. If there is something that is usable here, we are definitely going to use it, and we are trying to minimize the amount of waste,” said Pardoe.

Despite the past year’s public controversy surrounding the removal of trees on the Lot 1/9 site, construction work has proceeded quietly.

Local activist group Whistler Watch, who organized a peaceful protest and petition in March, has been silent on the issue since work began May 28 th , with member Stephen Volger confirming last week that the group had no plans to protest the development.

Pardoe also said he has not heard any negative feedback from the public.

“I checked with our front counter staff this morning, as well as with the mayor’s office and our resort experience parks and recreation line, and at this point we have not had a single phone call,” Pardoe said Monday afternoon.

“I am expecting municipal hall will probably receive some phone calls later this week when all the remaining trees are cleared from the site, because at this point in time, when you walk along the village stroll, unless you are really paying attention, you do not really see what is going on. When those trees are gone though, it is going to be fairly clear what is going on.”

Since the first trees on the Lot 1/9 site came down a week ago, almost 80 per cent of the trees that were earmarked for logging have already been removed, and the rest should come down soon. These include some trees around the periphery of the site, running parallel to the Village Stroll and play structures.

Pardoe said the reason construction workers left the trees on the outside of the lot until last was to make sure the trees fall inward when they are cut, not outward onto the stroll.

He added that construction workers have found more rotting trees on the Lot 1/9 site then was expected, and are working to safely remove those trees. Logged wood will be stored on the Lot 1/9 site until it has been sorted and counted.

The municipality is also working to protect the trees that will be left standing.

“The bigger hazard to the healthy trees is the wind. The soils are really quite soft in that area,” said Pardoe.

“There are things you can do to mitigate that, including something called spiral pruning. That is where you go up the tree and you remove a branch here, and a branch there. Basically what you are doing is you are reducing the stale area of the canopy on the trees that are newly exposed to the wind.”

  The Lot 1/9 site will be developed into the Celebration Plaza by September 2009, where nightly medal ceremonies and concerts will take place during the Winter Olympic Games, according to the general construction schedule distributed by the municipality. Following the Games the site will be developed into a multi-use park and community space.

Pardoe added that the views from the cleared parts of the Lot 1/9 site are more spectacular than he thought. From the site, Rainbow, Sproat and Blackcomb Ridge are all clearly visible.

“They are really exciting views and I think people are really going to enjoy being able to sit there and appreciate the views in the future,” he said.

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