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Whistler looks for new asphalt bids in face of increasing costs

Council split deepens as asphalt saga continues

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Tuesday's debate revealed a deepening fissure at the council table.

After Councillor Eckhard Zeidler commented that the asphalt story "defined this council to the community", an impassioned Councillor Chris Quinlan retorted:

"... This council is not defined by the issue. And I'm sure as hell not defined by this issue... You may wear this as your defining moment Councillor Zeidler."

The tension was also apparent in an exchange between Zeidler and Mayor Ken Melamed, who stated that there would be asphalt production in Whistler this year.

"It is going to be operating," the mayor said of the Whistler plant.

A stunned Zeidler said: "You have information that you might want to share with the community?"

The mayor later clarified that he was basing that comment on Alpine Paving's response to the municipality's cease and desist order. In a letter to the RMOW's lawyers, Silveri outlined why producing asphalt is allowed on the site he has occupied for 14 years.

"We have had dealings with the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) with respect to the asphalt plant over many years," states the letter written to Lidstone and Company, the RMOW's lawyers.

"Your letter is the first suggestion from RMOW that the asphalt plant is operating contrary to the zoning bylaw. We understand that the RMOW has two legal opinions, which say that our operation is not contrary to the zoning bylaw. We are advised that both legal opinions indicate that the asphalt plant is operating legally. Those are the facts.

"We have been advised on numerous occasions by RMOW staff that this zoning (IP1) permits the asphalt plant operation."

When asked after the meeting what actions the municipality may take if the plant continues to operate past May 13, the mayor deferred any comment.

He said: "We're not going to talk about it."

Meanwhile, the potential litigation with Alpine Paving forced another issue to the backburner.

Council decided to defer a decision on a rezoning application that would create a buffer zone between the Whistler Aggregates quarry, which is also owned by Silveri, and the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood.

Part of the deal would see Whistler Aggregates get another section of land in the area to quarry.

"I have to say that I think it's extremely inappropriate to look at a rezoning with a person we may be in litigation with shortly," said Councillor Ted Milner.