Despite every effort it could still take up to three more years before the Franzs Trail development in Creekside is finished.
The final landscaping touches on the Intrawest project cannot move ahead until Petro-Canada cleans up an underground leak in the area.
Petro-Canada spokesperson Allyson Zarowny confirmed this week that the company has until late 2006 to complete their remediation plan, pushing Intrawests landscaping plans into 2007.
Petro-Canadas remediation plan began in late 2001 and, under guidelines from the provincial Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, there is a five-year window for the clean up.
"After the five year timeframe well have to get a COC, which is a Certificate of Compliance, before we would start with any kind of redevelopment plans," said Zarowny.
In the meantime Intrawests hands are tied because they cannot move Whistler Creek closer to the Petro-Canada site as planned, until the land is cleaned up.
Currently the creek flows through their proposed landscaping plans on the edge of the highway, adjacent to the Franzs Trail development.
"We have agreed with (Petro-Canada) that we wouldnt move the creek until the remediation was complete," said John Morley, director of land development with Intrawest Placemaking.
But, he said the company is currently reviewing options to speed up the process.
Their consultant is examining the flows of the creek and the groundwater, as well as the contamination levels, to see if moving the creek safely before the full clean up is even an option.
"Were kind of looking at (if there is) a way to accelerate this, but at the same time we have to acknowledge that weve got this commitment with Petro-Can," said Morley.
"So unless we can make everybody comfortable, were not going to go ahead and do it without everybody being on side."
If the creek cannot be moved earlier and if Petro-Canadas remediation plan runs until the end of 2006, Intrawest would still have to wait until August 2007 to move the creek.
A two-week period at the end of August marks the safe fisheries window, which is needed to move fish-bearing streams like Whistler Creek.
Zarowny could not say if the remediation in Whistler could be done sooner than five years.
"Its hard to say at this point because its an ongoing process," she said.
Original testing began on the Petro-Canada site in 1999 when an underground leak was discovered.
Further investigation showed a hydrocarbon "plume" stretching southwest from the service station beneath London Lane, Highway 99 and to the edge of the Whistler Creek Lodge property.
Both the soil and the ground water in the area are contaminated.
Zarowny said remediation began in late 2001.
Stephen Dankevy, senior contaminated sites officer with MWLAP, explained the Creekside site has fairly deep contamination.
"Its not a straight-forward site to remediate," he said.
"Most gas stations are something we call dig and dump where they just dig it up and remove the soil."
The central location of this site and the fact that the contamination runs under the highway makes the dig and dump process unfeasible in this case.
Dankevy added that the remediation is further complicated because the groundwater is quite deep and the soils are very coarse with grain.
The municipality is not involved in the remediation process other than as a stakeholder observing the process.
"Its not like theyre not doing anything," said Joe Paul, manager of development services in the municipal engineering department.
"The remediation is ongoing. The equipments down there and its functioning and theres nothing that can really be done to cause it to speed up.
"Theyre following an aggressive remediation program but unfortunately it takes time."
At a recent request from municipal council, Intrawest is also looking at options to make the area look better while their landscaping plans hang in limbo.
Morley said they would finish off the roadside landscaping and all the sidewalks before the 2004/05 ski season. Other options to mitigate the unfinished site are still part of ongoing discussions.
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