Province won't shut asphalt plant 

Almost 450 signatures collected for nuisane petition, Whistler Mayor withholds support

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALISON TAYLOR - TOO LEGIT TO QUIT? The Government of B.C. won't shut down the Cheakamus Crossing asphalt plant, saying the "nuisance" claim is a matter for the courts.
  • Photo by Alison Taylor
  • TOO LEGIT TO QUIT? The Government of B.C. won't shut down the Cheakamus Crossing asphalt plant, saying the "nuisance" claim is a matter for the courts.

Cheakamus residents may have rallied en masse through a grassroots petition to declare the local asphalt plant a nuisance, but the petition is not grounds to shut down operations said the province.

In fact, the province considers the long-operating plant and quarry operations of Whistler Aggregates to be "providing quality employment and materials for public infrastructure projects."

The petition, which was signed by 444 residents of Cheakamus Crossing and Spring Creek in March, is ultimately moot, because it seeks to have the plant declared a nuisance under the Licence of Occupation; that is not possible.

In an emailed response to Pique, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations explained: "The terms of the license that refer to public nuisance are related to Nuisance Law which is common law tort. It must be decided by the courts, and not by petition."

The spokesperson also made clear that the province supports the asphalt and quarry operations of Whistler Aggregates.

The owners of Cheakamus Crossing, said the government spokesperson, signed a disclosure statement acknowledging the presence of the plant before moving in to the athletes village neighbourhood after the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"It is very clear that the 'possibility of relocating the asphalt operation' was not guaranteed," said the spokesperson.

"A misunderstanding between the purchaser and seller of units does not justify penalizing a neighbouring, local business providing quality employment and materials for public infrastructure projects who was not party to the development of Cheakamus Crossing."

No Asphalt Plant 2 (NAP 2) spokesperson Judy Bonn, who has not heard directly from the province in response to the mailed petition, said the group is prepared to continue the fight on the public stage with protests and blockades should the province fail to listen to its demands.

"We are not prepared to stop in case the outcome is not what we desire, which I believe it will be," she said. "We will not live like this.

"This, to me, is a civilized, legal way to resolve the problem. I know that some of the people here are much more aggressive than I am."

That threat of staging protests, among other issues, has driven a wedge between Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden and NAP 2, which had enjoyed open and cooperative dialogue with the mayor up to this point. NAP 2 has been hoping to keep the dialogue with local government amicable and transparent given the fractious relationship between the first incarnation of NAP and the previous council.

But Wilhelm-Morden isn't keen to have Whistler as the top story on the news with stories of unrest and highway blockades. And she told the group so.

"I said that that would be problematic because it may well involve the RCMP then that would involve the media and there would be a spotlight on Whistler that could harm Whistler's reputation," explained the mayor.

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