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Whistler's roadwork set for every three years

RMOW hopes to increase bidders, lower unit price



Council is hoping to entice asphalt companies from elsewhere to bid on Whistler's annual road paving work by offering big municipal contracts every three years.

Rather than spending roughly $650,000 annually on Whistler's roads, The RMOW will spend $1.6 million every three years and just $150,000 in years in between.

"One of the things that we've heard in the past was that our road reconstruction program wasn't big enough to attract contractors from the city," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden. "So this is a way of perhaps attracting those contractors."

The decision, made at Tuesday's council meeting, is yet another fallout from the 2012 Supreme Court decision that allows Whistler Aggregates, the lone paving game in town, to continue operating at Cheakamus Crossing.

"We're looking at ways that we can mitigate what's going on in the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood," explained Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden before the meeting.

Pique was unable to reach Whistler Aggregates' owner Frank Silveri this week.

Last year the municipality required all asphalt for municipal contracts to be made at a plant more than three kilometres away from a residential neighbourhood. Whistler Aggregates trucked up the asphalt from its Squamish plant at a $50,000 premium to taxpayers.

That three-kilometre requirement hasn't changed, confirmed the mayor this week.

The Finance and Audit Committee, of which the mayor is a part, first proposed the road paving rescheduling and asked staff to investigate it further.

James Hallisey, manager of transportation and solid waste, explained the pros and cons of the road paving rescheduling to council in his presentation.

"We investigated this idea and we do see some benefits to this," he told council.

In addition to promoting competition, there is the chance that the bigger projects will result in lower unit rates as contractors take advantage of economies of scale.

There are potential drawbacks too, he cautioned. Those savings may be swallowed up if more resources are needed to complete the work on time.

"There is a limited season for road construction," he said, particularly in Whistler. "There may be some challenges for the contractor.

"We will have to do some careful planning."

He also said staff is well aware of events like Ironman and GranFondo and the road paving program would not impact them.

"You won't see asphalt being replaced on Village Gate Boulevard in August," he said.

A pavement quality specialist examined the roads in Whistler and said there would not be any deterioration of the quality of the roads by switching up the program.

An engineering study of all the roads is planned this year and that will form the basis of the program going forward.

Ultimately staff proposed a budget of $4 million over six years, as opposed to $4.15 million under the initial schedule.

"There is really no downside to this," said Councillor Duane Jackson, pointing out that many of the projects will be accelerated as the first big project year is 2014. "I think this will be interesting to see at work."

Meanwhile, Pemberton council passed a motion to submit a series of comments to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District regarding the SLRD temporary use permit for Whistler Aggregates Ltd.

The SLRD granted a one-year temporary use permit on Feb. 25, allowing the company to run a mobile asphalt plant at the Green River Pit, located near the Wedge Woods subdivision on Whistler's northern boundary.

Silveri, who owns the mobile plant, 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.

At Pemberton's Committee of the Whole meeting on Feb. 19 it was recommended that council ask the SLRD board to consider the following:

• A condition to the approval that Whistler Aggregates indicate in writing that they will not object to the alignment of the Sea to Sky Trail, and that the applicant provide in-kind assistance with trail construction.

• A condition of the approval to include the removal of an abandoned building on the site.

• For the applicant to be advised that a suitably zoned site already exists in the Rutherford area.

• For the SLRD to table an opinion of how future industrial use in the area conformed with the Regional Growth Strategy.

• To advise the SLRD of a possible conflict with the provincial Mines Act.

Mayor Jordan Sturdy told councillors at the regular council meeting on March 5 that these comments had been submitted to the SLRD board prior to the board's Feb. 25 meeting.

— With files from Cathryn Atkinson

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