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Facts a mere annoyance

Facts a mere annoyance I thought my frustration had reached its limit with this asphalt plant mess but apparently there's room for more...

Facts a mere annoyance

I thought my frustration had reached its limit with this asphalt plant mess but apparently there's room for more... I just received the RMOW's response to my latest Freedom of Information request which states, "There are no records responsive to your request . " My FOI request was for the letter referred to here by our CAO Bill Barratt, who said the following in a May 18, 2010 presentation to c ouncil: "In 1997 the owner ( Frank Silveri ) submitted a letter to find out if he required zoning to operate at the existing site. The interpretation of staff of the day was that IP1 permitted the proposed land use ( i.e. asphalt plant ) ." This letter is even referenced in an FAQ sent to residents of Cheakamus Crossing by Mr. Barratt in July. So... tell me, how can there be no record of this letter when the RMOW has cited it numerous times in public forums?

In addition to this "ghost" of a letter, what I'd really love to see is the response from the RMOW essentially giving Mr. Silveri permission to operate the asphalt plant without proper zoning. I asked for that as well and guess what "there are no records responsive to your request . "

It's mind-blowing how the RMOW has so blatantly misrepresented the zoning of the current asphalt plant throughout the past year. How many times have we heard Mayor Melamed, members of c ouncil and senior RMOW staff vehemently confirm that the plant is allowed in the current zoning? Too many to count. They've consistently backed this up citing the legal opinion of Don Lidstone QC, with Melamed saying things like "complete confidence in the legal advice of Mr. Don Lidstone, QC, and our senior staff . " Heck, the m ayor even blamed a junior staff member for misinterpreting the zoning when he did a presentation to c ouncil last fall stating that asphalt production was not permitted in the current zoning. Hmmm, I wonder if m ayor and c ouncil are feeling as duped as I am right now. Or are some feeling incompetent for not looking past the face-value advice of their staff and reviewing the information for themselves? Either way, there's gotta be some kind of shakedown going on at the h all over this, don't you think?

But finally! It's now crystal clear in the public realm that the current site's zoning does NOT permit an asphalt plant. Time to give that junior staff member a promotion ' cause he's the only one at RMOW who got it right up until now. It doesn't get any clearer than this about the zoning lie when reading RMOW lawyer Don Lidstone 's comments from Aug . 30, 2010: "The asphalt plant does not comply with the current zoning bylaw; the asphalt plant is not grand parented , nor does it have any legal right to operate at its present location; and (subject to additional factual background information) Whistler could take steps to enforce its zoning bylaw."

Bill Barratt has been the RMOW poster child for the "fact" that the plant is legally zoned - when it's not. How are we to feel about this misrepresentation, (a.k.a. lie) especially with Mr. Barratt's famous press briefing waving papers in the air saying " the proof is right here" and "it doesn't get any clearer than this." The RMOW has publicly perpetuated this lie for the past 10 months . Why aren't they demanding Mr. Barratt's resignation due to his false claims ?

This community will pay the price, one way or another, for the RMOW's mistakes. Will the RMOW ' fess up to past mistakes, face the consequences and seek a solution that protects both our health and taxpayers' pocketbooks? Or will they cut and run, leaving the community in their toxic asphalt dust to clean up the mess themselves?

The way some at the RMOW have handled all of this reminds me of my time spent in Moscow and St. Petersburg , w hile there I read the work of Russian n ovelist Ivan Goncharov. He wrote , "It is a trick among the dishonest to offer sacrifices that are not needed or not possible, to avoid making those that are required . "

Mr. Goncharov also worked 30 years in government as an official.

Tim Koshul



The many stand for The One

Who is this soft spoken guy who sold his voice of reason to the powers that be?

One week it's, "I say just trust council," "Many have already shown their faith," then next week it's, "These folks are a diminishing, wronged minority who must understand, we've heard your problem, our hands are tied, you take the hit for everyone."

That's a very stark departure from an objective opinion.

Even though in past elections Pique has outright endorsed a candidate, a giant leap comes when editorial tells readers to trust, accept, have faith and move on with terrible public policy.

The sky high expense of journalistic integrity be damned.

How can Pique even express an opinion without all the details?

Not one member of council wants to do this deal.

"I trust and have faith in council" is a personal advert in an editorial column for of all things, an asphalt plant near a legacy neighbourhood, or for that matter, in Whistler at all.

What's it cost for that space?

What, in fact, would make unseen powers bring out their big publicity gun?

Help us clear up some pesky people who don't want to raise their kids next to a toxic site that shouldn't be there, will ya? We have business interests the public need not know about.

It's all about 'The Secret'.

'You people have no informed opinion about what's happening in your life because you don't know 'The Secret' and we're not telling'.

Then why doesn't your lawyer tell our lawyer what 'The Secret' is under oath and let him make an informed opinion for us?

By the way, three members of council have seen 'The Secret' and are voting against it.

Divided councils indicate the worst possible management from the mayor's chair.

Though being unable to persuade council members is the hallmark of His Worship.

Mayor Ken leads with a, 'I'm sorry, we made a secret deal, it's too late, I've listened to your story, our hands are tied, you'll save everybody a lot of money, asked and answered', story.

Councillors Tom and Chris swallow his rhetoric whole.

Ted, Eckhard and Ralph actually know 'The Secret' and have firmly voted against it.

That leaves poor Grant, the ultimate family man, gear head local, an original supporter of the, "A What? An asphalt plant at Checkamus Crossing?, You must be Crazy!" opposition to Mayor Ken's insistent plan.

Only two people spoke at the public hearing in support of Mayor Ken's solution. One offered arms length legal advice, the other just didn't want his taxes increased yet again.

The muni being on a $100 million hook for some non-selling market priced lots next to an asphalt plant in a down cycle didn't seem to bother him.

On Grant's lap is where this whole thing lies. His is the swing vote that recently flipped to create this situation.

Somehow learning "The Secret" unnerved Grant's love for our community. The very reason he got elected.

His must be a gut wrenching decision, thinking of his own family.

Not as twisted though as The Fourth Estate's role in this caper.

The press is supposed to be everyman's voice speaking truth to the powers that control our lives. The great leveler.

We need the truth from the press when those in power can't defend their actions. Like now.

A foundation of Canadian society says, The Many stand for The One.

When elected officials and our press unite to promote indefensible positions against any one innocent person, much less an entire neighbourhood, it spells the end of two words.

Public trust.

Brian Walker



Environment comes first

I was intrigued at the public hearing on the asphalt plant, to hear Mr. Paul Mathews say that we need to put economic considerations on equal footing with environmental ones. This is in complete contradiction to the 2010 Fresh Water Summit speakers, who contend that if we are not considering our water source first there will be no economics. Perhaps if Mr. Mathews went to and read the lectures and listened to the podcasts from that summit he might change his point of view. This summit featured many learned minds and brings some key points for us all to consider for the future.

Andrée Vajda Janyk



A Big Thank You!

Last weekend we moved into our new house in Cheakamus Crossing, and it is absolutely wonderful! THANK YOU to everyone who contributed in some way to making Whistler's new neighbourhood a reality, from council to contractors, board members to staff, funding partners to consultants, and everyone in between.

Also, a thanks to our now former landlords who's wonderful suite we simply outgrew.

Pardoe Family



Secrets don't last forever

I highly enjoy Pique editor Bob Barnett's insightful and experienced commentary on Whistler affairs. However, I feel I need to make some comments on his recent editorial on the Cheakamus Crossing public hearing.

Although there weren't as many speakers at the recent public hearing, the issue is far from exhausted, and in fact, there is a very large head of steam just looking for the right place to vent. It went as quickly as it did partly due to the five minute time limit on speakers, and partly due to the fact that everything that you could say about the issue has largely been said.

Over the summer, I've come to believe that the vast majority of the Cheakamus Crossing residents vehemently oppose the proposed rezoning, as do a large amount of other Whistler residents. Twenty-two people spoke against the rezoning (yours truly included) and 64 people wrote letters against it. Only three speakers and four written submissions supported the proposal. That there is a majority of Cheakamus Crossing residents who support the rezoning who are under represented in the media is an odd position for the editor of the community's largest news outlet to take.

The fight at the moment isn't to move the plant, it's to stop it from being permanently legalized and entrenched in that location. If the proposed rezoning is passed, not only will the plant and quarry be greatly enlarged and enshrined permanently in the OCP, but Alpine Paving will also be paid $400,000, or $41.69 per permanent Whistler resident, by the RMOW. Usually, when someone wants a major upgrade to their zoning, they have to pony up for a new X-ray machine or other community amenity. That the situation is reversed in this case is yet another unanswered question. By not passing the proposed rezoning, the RMOW will save $400,000 of taxpayer money. If the rezoning doesn't pass, the legal and operational conditions of the asphalt plant will remain the same as they have been for at least the last 12 years, so how can they claim damages that are, according to several RMOW councilors and staff, "in the millions of dollars?"

The confusion surrounding the issue hasn't been helped by the steady stream of misinformation from the RMOW. The RMOW's positions have changed as their arguments of the moment have eroded from underneath them. All the players, including long time RMOW legal council Don Lidstone, agree that the asphalt plant is not, and has never been, a legal or permitted use in that location, and that the RMOW has legal grounds to force it to move. There is also agreement among the parties, and in writing from the RMOW itself, that there is some sort of secret information or deal that is so damaging that the RMOW would rather ignore its own bylaw and situate a toxic industrial plant in the middle of a dense residential neighbourhood than admit publically what it is. If former U.S. President Richard Nixon were still around, he could tell council that in politics, nothing ever stays secret forever. Eventually it will come out as part of a legal action, or the council will change, or some nosey reporter will dig it up. I can tell you, whatever the secret is, it better be worth it.

David Buzzard



Proud moment

I attended the public hearing on Tuesday night for the asphalt plant/quarry rezoning bylaw.  There were more than 30 speakers by my count and all of them, including the two who spoke in favour of the rezoning, were intelligent, passionate and articulate. We live in an amazing community. I am proud to be a Whistlerite.

Nancy J. Wilhelm-Morden



Leading us all

Over the last 10 years we have been led by our defaulting environmental educator at large. He has traveled the world and spread the word of how we lead the world and our own province in environmental stewardship, leadership, education and now offsets. Many of you have repeatedly voted and subsequently elected him to be our leader. Even after he is gone, he will still be a known figure in the community and around the world as the leader of B.C.'s 21 st century environmental stewardship program. We know him also as an avid cyclist, cross country skier, bus rider and opposer of public opinion.

For a long time he stated that educating people on environmental stewardship and responsibility was more important than taking action. Luckily that has changed over the last few years, for our good. Many of you elected him for his leadership and because it seemed right that he lead us through this year's Olympics.

I hope that for your sake, those of you that elected him don't oppose his opinions and decisions, including but not exclusive to: his opposition to WhistlerU (which will provide jobs, education and environmental stewardship training); his stance on the asphalt plant and how you should be breathing its emissions (even though you knew it was there); his foresight into logging the community forest that contains the majority of our old growth trees in this area (well we could build walking trails out of the bark mulch); his leadership in starting the offsets for the RMOW (we could be paying less but why bother, he barely pays any of the bill).

For your sake, those of you that elected him, I hope that you don't disagree with all his beliefs and statements and the way he is leading our community, our resort and our municipality. I know that we can all look forward to a new leader that will hopefully be more popular in public opinion polls.

Iain Warren



It doesn't happen all at once

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the library the other day for the Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF) open house. I'd joined the "protesters" (a friendly bunch if there ever was one) for the walk from the Carleton and had some good conversations on the way. To be totally honest, I was on a bit of a mission to try to fill in some important blanks in the discussion over the cutting of old growth trees in our area, such as the fact that getting the Community Forest tenure put Whistler, along with the Lil'wat and Squamish Nations in the position of deciding how and where harvesting takes place, rather than those decisions being made by some faceless corporation with no interest in our values and surroundings.

I also went on to try explaining that the forests are controlled by the province and we either HAD to harvest 20,000 cubic metres annually (the Allowable Annual Cut or AAC, which really should be called the Required Annual Cut) or we risk losing the tenure - and having the government hand it back to said faceless corporation because the CCF did not comply with the AAC. Heck the CCF even managed to get the AAC reduced from 33,000 cubic metres to 20,000! We're making great progress toward the ultimate goal of sustainably harvesting a minimum of old growth trees I argued, but we're not there yet.

I was feeling pretty good that some folks are understanding the dynamics the CCF has to operate under and that the province simply won't permit a complete halt to logging, and we don't have enough available second growth sufficiently old (the heavy industrial logging in our area happened between 25 and 70 years ago, once the trees get to be 80 years and older that second growth is getting pretty beefy though) and large to get us to 20,000 cubic metres, so some old growth will have to be harvested.

Then the funny thing happened. A nice lady wished to have a word with me. We went outside the meeting room at the library and she hammered me pretty darn hard for walking through the village with the protesters. "Don't you understand with that CCF is? Don't you realize the control over our forests it gives us that we didn't have before?" I was gobsmacked. Then it dawned on me. We're all on the same page but we see allies as enemies, friends as foes.

In the mid 1990s the provincial government unveiled the Protected Areas Strategy for the province, and for Sea to Sky. After creating some new parks they declared that no new protected areas would be created in Sea to Sky country, that opportunity was now over. However citizens of S2S working together in the provincial LRMP process prior to the Olympics developed a plan, which was not only endorsed but enhanced by First Nations, dramatically increased the protected areas and created Wildland zones which are off limits to timber harvesting. Those parks and Wildland zones are now over 50 per cent of Sea to Sky, a percentage higher than anywhere in B.C. or in Canada - perhaps the world.

Getting to a sustainable forest industry doesn't happen all at once. It takes time, and just when things look hopeless like they did on Elaho Main in 1999 when the massive 1,300-year-old Douglas firs and cedars were coming under the chainsaw - we had no angles or legitimate strategy to save them - and hippies were getting beat up and protesters were put in jail... we played by the rules, and today the ancient giants of the Elaho are protected in a provincial park. We made progress and we did it together.

I support the Cheakamus Community Forest Board, and I appreciate the dedication of the people involved and the folks who come out to learn more about what this elevated level of control through the Community Forest Tenure over our forests means for the future of our community. Working together we'll minimize or even end the logging of old growth in our area. But not tomorrow, it takes time and it takes all of us working together.

Councillor Eckhard Zeidler



Carbon offsets an excuse for our mess

Unlike some screechers, I do believe the globe is warming. It is undeniable. Whether it is caused entirely by the pollution that we put into the air or only partly is irrelevant. In whole or in part we are doing it. As the dirt continues and increases so will the warming and the melting and the eventual loss of hydroelectric power.

It is silly to argue for zero emissions, for that is impossible. Reasonable is all that can be expected. Better cars, more public transport, more efficient burning in heating and waste to energy. Carbon offsets is not any way to go but only an excuse for not cleaning up our own mess and we need all to do that. Of course it begins with the elected people who run the crap house.

Unlike the advocates who want governments accountable for lower taxes, I believe they are looking in the wrong direction for too much is left to civic governments to take care of as though we were not living in the same world. Federal and provincial governments are not to be left off the hook for they, too, advocate flat taxes for everything as in sales taxes and want to lower income taxes for those who can afford it and put a heavy burden against those who cannot.

Raising the price of gasoline does not reduce the use of the car. It only raises the cost.

Terry Smith

Garibaldi Highlands