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SLRD grants one-year permit to Green River asphalt plant

Petition against cheakamus crossing asphalt plant in the works

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The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board has granted a one-year temporary use permit for a mobile asphalt plant at the Green River Pit, located near the Wedge Woods subdivision on Whistler's northern boundary.

Twin River Gravel Co., co-owned by Coastal Mountain Excavations and the owner of Whistler Aggregates, Frank Silveri, currently operates a gravel pit in the area, and would own and operate the mobile asphalt plant on the same site.

Silveri had hoped for a two-year temporary use permit, but this was shortened following discussion by SLRD directors about riparian concerns that could not be adequately investigated due to current snow conditions.

As well as the one-year permit, which passed unanimously, directors also passed a motion to have SLRD staff "reasonably investigate" the site throughout the year to determine the impact of the plant on the local environment. Three directors — Rob Kirkham of Squamish, Maurice Freitage of Area D and Mickey Macri of Area B — voted against the second motion, as it is not an SLRD legal obligation.

"I don't want to be downloading problems from the provincial government," Kirkham told the board.

Silveri was not present for the vote.

Earlier in the meeting, David Williams, who lives near the Green River Pit, made a presentation to the board outlining his concerns about locating an asphalt plant on the same footprint. In particular, he said, there is a wetland pool beneath the pit that has not been well documented or protected by the province, which flows from Johnson Creek, a fish-bearing stream. Smoke was another particular concern to Williams.

Susie Gimse, the director of Area C where the plant will be located, said oversight of the plant was a difficult issue. She put forward the one-year option.

"If there are complaints, by the time it's investigated it is too late," she said. "I do believe we have some obligation to carefully consider the application."

Mayor Jordan Sturdy, representing the Village of Pemberton on the SLRD board, said he was concerned that a longer period of time would lead to the Green River Pit site becoming a permanent location for an established asphalt plant. His particular concern, he said, was due to the underutilized industrial park in his community.

Meanwhile, Whistler residents' fight to move the Cheakamus Crossing asphalt plant continues.

The reincarnation of the No Asphalt Plant group — NAP2 — is rallying community members in Cheakamus Crossing, Spring Creek and Function Junction to put their names to a petition stating that Whistler Aggregates' operations are a public nuisance and annoyance to its neighbours.

"We are trying to improve our neighbourhood by having the asphalt plant move away from Cheakamus Crossing," said Judy Bonn, spokesperson for NAP2.

She said there is a clause in the Whistler Aggregates Licence of Occupation with the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources that addresses the issue of public nuisance.

Bonn hopes to gather hundreds of signatures.

NAP2 will then send the petition, along with supporting documents such as the record of calls to the bylaw department about odour and noise and the record of complaints to council and to the ministry.

Complaints were down in the 2012 operating season but not because of the expensive upgrades to the plant, which would mitigate the odour and pollutants, said Bonn.

There were fewer complaints because the plant wasn't operating as frequently.

"When he fired up the so-called new equipment, it was nauseating and it was just as bad as it was before," said Bonn

"The spring is coming and I know right now it is not an issue because there are no operations. But it's coming. It will be starting in a few weeks."

Last January a BC Supreme Court judge ruled in favour of Whistler Aggregates after the Resort Municipality of Whistler attempted to get a permanent injunction to force it out of the Cheakamus Crossing location.

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