A new asphalt plant, the third in the Sea to Sky corridor, is being considered for the outskirts of Whistler.
Whistler Aggregates' owner Frank Silveri, who owns plants in Whistler and in Squamish, has applied to the Squamish Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) for a permit for a mobile asphalt plant at the Green River Pit. That's roughly two kilometres north of the new Wedge Woods subdivision on the east side of Highway 99, outside Whistler's northern boundary. The Twin River Gravel Co., of which Silveri is a co-owner, operates out of the area.
When contacted this week Silveri said the plant was "to service the areas for the north." He would not elaborate further.
The staff report considered by the region's Electoral Area Directors Committee on Monday states: "The proposed mobile asphalt plant will be primarily used as a 'back up' operation to the primary plant located within the Resort Municipality of Whistler."
The application came as a surprise to Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, who became aware of it only at the end of last week.
"Certainly that Twin Rivers Gravel pit is very well suited for this kind of use," she said. "There are no people living close by. It's halfway between Whistler and Pemberton so if there's work to be done on the Whistler-Pemberton highway it's very well situated for that. Any kind of asphalt manufacturing that doesn't occur at Cheakamus Crossing is a good thing."
The temporary permit request to the SLRD is the latest development in a two-year ongoing battle between the municipality and Whistler Aggregates.
After Silveri won a B.C. Supreme Court decision last year to continue operating his asphalt plant close to the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood, council effectively cut off the local plant from any municipal contracts. A stipulation in the 2012 tender called for the asphalt to be made in a plant located three kilometres away from a residential neighbourhood.
More recently the mayor has alluded to potential options for dealing with the asphalt plant though she has never divulged what those options may be. Talks with Silveri are at an impasse.
The Green River Pit is located in Area C, outside of Whistler and Pemberton boundaries. Twin River Gravel is a joint ownership operation between Whistler Aggregates and Coastal Mountain Excavations (CME).
CME president Nigel Woods wrote a letter included in the permit application, confirming his support for the mobile asphalt plant. "The proposed asphalt plant will fit well with the ongoing gravel operations of Twin River Gravel Co. Ltd," he said.
The proposed plant will be made up of a drum mixer, scrubber, control tower and storage silo for hot mix asphalt. It will also include storage tanks for liquid asphalt and feeder bins for the various sizes of aggregate needed to make asphalt.
The report states that if the plant will be of a mobile design, but is not likely to be moved around once it's established on the site.
Committee chair Susie Gimse said the electoral area directors agreed in a three to one vote to move the application forward to the SLRD board.
"I think what the electoral area directors felt is this is a good issue that will probably prompt an interesting discussion at the board table and our recommendation basically was to initiate the public consultation process and to recommend that to the board," she said.
The SLRD board will consider it at the Jan. 28 meeting.
When asked if she had any concerns as director for Area C, Gimse said: "Not at this time but as an elected official that's why we have public process, so we hear what the concerns are of the community. Something might come up that would be worthy of consideration."
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