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Plans for asphalt plant to be re-evaluated

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"They got rid of the smells (of the garbage dump and the sewage treatment plant). We had all these understandings. But never did they talk about... 'you're going to be living with the smell of asphalt six months out of the year.'"

Whistler Aggregates has operated on the site for more than 20 years. Owner Frank Silveri has two separate companies there: Whistler Aggregates is the rock quarrying company, and Alpine Paving is the asphalt company.

Silveri believes he has been a good neighbour, operating within provincial regulations for years without complaint, beside a garbage dump and a sewage treatment plant. His annual air quality reports prove that he meets those standards, he said.

All that changed four years ago when Whistler decided to move the athletes' village cum resident housing neighbourhood to the area.

"As soon as somebody mentions an asphalt plant or any industry, people just automatically react," said Silveri Tuesday afternoon.

That's one of the reasons he is in a rezoning process at municipal hall, asking to move his operations to the south, further away from the neighbours.

Essentially, he wants to give the municipality some of his land to the north to create a bigger buffer in return for land to the south.

"I'm willing to give up part of my claim to make things better for everyone," said Silveri.

"They won't even know we're there."

This year, in particular, has been a banner year for the company with all the paving work done in the municipality in preparation for the Olympics. Silveri expects to be much quieter in the years to come.

What the rezoning process revealed, however, is that the land is not specifically zoned for asphalt operations - a two-decade old oversight.

Mayor Ken Melamed explained that because the municipality moved the asphalt plant there all those years ago, the operations are essentially entrenched in the law.

"He has the de facto permission to be there," explained the mayor.

There have been ongoing discussions between the Whistler Development Corp. board, the arm's length municipal subsidiary charged with building the $161 neighbourhood development, and Silveri to relocate, even as recently as this past September. To date, it has simply cost too much.

When asked how much, council could not say.

"He (the owner) has told us there's a significant cost," said the mayor.

"It's significant enough that we can't just make it happen."

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