Asphalt plant is legal: owner 

Alpine Paving says it has been advised by RMOW that zoning for asphalt production in place.

Alpine Paving's owner Frank Silveri appears to be staying put.

In a letter sent to the RMOW's lawyers he outlines why producing asphalt is allowed on the site he has occupied for 14 years near the new Cheakamus neighbourhood.

"We have had dealings with the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) with respect to the asphalt plant over many years," states the letter written to lawyers with Lidstone and Company, RMOW's lawyers .

"Your letter is the first suggestion from RMOW that the asphalt plant is operating contrary to the zoning bylaw. We understand that the RMOW has two legal opinions which say that our operation is not contrary to the zoning bylaw. We are advised that both legal opinions indicate that the asphalt plant is operating legally. Those are the facts.

"We have been advised on numerous occasions by RMOW staff that this zoning (IP 1) permits the asphalt plant operation."

Council, in a complete about-face of its direction to date, stated in a letter to Alpine Paving from Lidstone and Company that operations must cease by May 13 because "the operation of the asphalt plant ... on the Site is contrary to the applicable zoning enactment."

The letter from the RMOW to Alpine was sent April 11.

If Alpine Paving does not comply with the request, council has stated that it will consider all the enforcement powers at its disposal. Council, at its regular meeting Tuesday April 19, made the announcement.

Whistler could be sued if it shuts down the long-operating plant or forces it to move.

When asked after the Council meeting what he would say to the wider community of Whistler, all of whom have been told for the last year and a half that they could be on the hook in a lawsuit, Mayor Ken Melamed said: "That possibility remains."

He later added: "I suppose it's safe to say we're moving into uncharted territory."

Silveri has acknowledged the order to stop operations, said the mayor.

Pique has been unable to reach Silveri for comment so far.

Tim Koshul, the spokesperson for the No Asphalt Plant (NAP) group, dismissed the possibility of losing in court if it ever makes it that far. To Koshul, who has painstakingly delved into every nook and cranny of this case, the issue is black and white: Alpine Paving does not have the required zoning to operate.

"(I'm) ecstatic," said Koshul of council's decision.

"It's been a long year and a half of fact checking.

"I'm glad to see the democratic process work."

Koshul, among others, was part of the squeaky wheel at municipal hall that continually asked tough questions surrounding the history of the plant and why it could or should be allowed to operate without zoning.

Perhaps the first public sign of dissension in the council ranks on this issue was apparent at the last meeting when Councillors Ralph Forsyth, Eckhard Zeidler, Ted Milner and Grant Lamont voted to defer a decision to award Alpine Paving the 2011 municipal road works contract, worth more than $400,000.

"Who voted and how they voted is not to be released," said the mayor after the Tuesday meeting. "That remains confidential."

Though it is not clear how they voted, what is clear is the toll this issue has taken on council.

It has been one of the most challenging issues of its term.

Obvious tension spilled over after the council meeting.

While being interviewed Tuesday, the mayor answered questions about the legal opinions that initially formed council's direction.

"I believe I'm on record as saying that all of the legal opinions recommended against going to court," he said.

He was asked if there were specifically three legal opinions.

"There were three," he confirmed.

Councillor Ted Milner, overhearing the interview, said:

"That's not what I read. I don't think you should be talking about that."

The mayor replied:

"I'm just repeating what I'm on record as saying previously Ted."

More information will be forthcoming on the May 13 deadline and details surrounding council's decisions could also be released.

"We are exploring items of the history and the decision that can be released to the public, to the community," said the mayor.

Council's lawyer has also advised the company that municipal staff would discuss potential alternative sites.

The 2011 municipal road works contract, which Alpine Paving was the only company to bid on, was removed from the council agenda. It is not clear who will do that work this year.

To view Alpine Paving's letter of response go to the RMOW's website at www.whistler.ca.

(with files from Clare Ogilvie)

 

 

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