Decision still pending on asphalt plant renewal 

Council briefs: Bylaw disputes to be handled locally; Drinking water, Emergency Prep Weeks

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - Up in the air The provincial Ministry of Forests has yet to make a decision regarding a lease renewal application for the Whistler Aggregates asphalt plant in Cheakamus Crossing.
  • file PHOTO
  • Up in the air The provincial Ministry of Forests has yet to make a decision regarding a lease renewal application for the Whistler Aggregates asphalt plant in Cheakamus Crossing.

With the tenure licence of Whistler Aggregates Ltd. in Cheakamus Crossing having expired March 1, the company is now operating on a month-to-month basis until the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) makes a final decision on renewal.

Frank Silveri, the owner of the Whistler Aggregates asphalt plant, has applied for a 30-year lease extension, which the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) officially opposed on March 7.

In a March 16 letter to the MFLNRO, Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden pointed out that material presented to the RMOW in the renewal application doesn't include a proposed expansion area, updated land survey, operations plan or environmental plan for the proposed tenure.

"The materials also do not include any studies or information supporting the demand or ongoing need for the quarrying activities and asphalt plant, or alternatives that may be considered," Wilhelm-Morden wrote.

An aerial photo of the site included with the letter shows that quarrying activities have taken place outside of the originally licensed zone, and that a 2009 expansion area is largely outside of the RMOW's Industrial Processing One zone, which permits the quarrying activities to occur.

The letter notes that rock quarrying, and gravel and aggregate processing was first supported by the RMOW in 1984, when the area in question was far removed from residential neighbourhoods.

Today there are more than 240 homes and 800 residents living in Cheakamus Crossing, as well as numerous recreational opportunities, and the RMOW will be doing a "major community planning study" looking at future housing options in the area, Wilhelm-Morden added.

"Clearly, the context for the uses that have occurred under the licensing that was supported has changed dramatically," she wrote.

"In conclusion, the RMOW urges the Province to decline renewal of this application in light of the significant change in circumstances and the urgent need for housing."

As an alternative, Wilhelm-Morden suggested the parties work together to relocate the plant.

"As part of this consideration, it is important to note that the asphalt plant is a mobile operation," she wrote. "A one-year tenure extension period would provide time needed to identify potential suitable locations."

The MFLNRO is limited in the information it can give out during the election period, a spokesperson said, adding that there is no timeline for a decision to be made.

Bylaw disputes to be handled locally

The RMOW is aiming to streamline ticketing disputes by implementing its own bylaw dispute adjudication system.

The new system would allow disputes of minor bylaw violations — like those involving parking, noise and animal control — to be handled locally rather than in provincial court.

Council authorized staff to pursue the new system at its April 25 meeting.

"Many of our bylaw infractions are minor in nature, and the delays that we are currently experiencing for the community to be able to dispute their tickets are very lengthy," said acting manager of protective services Lindsay DeBou in a presentation to council.

"In addition, we are tying up the provincial court process and it's just not justifiable for us to do that any longer."

The RMOW expects a number of benefits under the new system, including improved service to citizens (through more flexible dispute scheduling), increased revenue and operating efficiencies and freeing up court time for more serious offences.

One big benefit is the ability to serve tickets in the mail — which means absentee second-homeowners can now be more easily ticketed for illegal nightly rentals.

The new system is made possible by the Local Government Bylaw Enforcement Act, which was first piloted in West Vancouver and North Vancouver in 2003.

Since then, 78 more local governments have implemented their own adjudication system under the act.

The system could also mean changes to fine amounts, though so far the only talk of increase has been in relation to parking tickets — a recommendation from the Transportation Advisory Group.

"Each fine (bylaw notice) implemented in the new system will be looked at separately. We expect to see some fine amounts to be the same as the current system, as some bylaws have been recently updated. Older bylaws will be reviewed to see if an increase or decrease is required," an RMOW spokesperson said in an email.

"Although a maximum fine can be $500 in the new system, not all fines will be at this value. The system also offers the ability to reduce fine amounts through compliance agreements."

The old municipal ticket system — which allows for higher fines — will also be kept in place for more serious offences that may require a judge.

The RMOW will have to make a request in writing to the Ministry of Attorney General to be added to the Local Government Bylaw Enforcement so it can implement the system.

Drinking Water/Emergency Preparedness Weeks proclaimed

This May 7 to 13, drink lots of water and be prepared for anything.

At its April 25 meeting, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) council proclaimed two separate but equally important weeks for that stretch: Drinking Water Week and Emergency Preparedness Week.

Council also proclaimed May 6 to be Wildfire Community Preparedness Day in Whistler.

The RMOW will host a bevy of community engagement events recognizing all three.

For Drinking Water Week: a drinking water theme at Whistler's Public Library Family Together Time, including miniature water cycle building and mural painting, as well as a free screening of the Canadian documentary Water on the Table at the library on May 11, followed by an interactive discussion with RMOW utilities manager Michael Day.

For Emergency Preparedness Week and Wildfire Preparedness Day: an Emergency Preparedness and FireSmart booth will be setup outside Nesters Market on Sat., May 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions and share information.

Emergency prep kits will be up for raffle and available for purchase.

The Whistler Fire Rescue Service will also be on site with copies of the recently updated FireSmart Homeowner's Manual. Residents can also register at the booth for a free FireSmart home assessment.

Also on Sat., May 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., RMOW staff will be making the rounds to local neighbourhoods with a truck and chipper to collect trees, limbs and brush.

To have the chipper swing by your property contact FireSmart coordinator Scott Rogers at 604-966-4173.

On Sat., May 13 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Family Together Time at the Whistler Public Library will have an emergency preparedness theme.

More information on all three events will be posted to www.whistler.ca.

WAYFINDING SIGNAGE CONTRACT AWARDED

Phase Three of the RMOW's Wayfinding project is set to get underway.

At its April 11 meeting, council awarded a contract in the amount of $1,408,691 — to be paid using provincial Resort Municipality Initiative funds — to Delta's Knight Signs for the fabrication and installation of more than 290 signs.

The new signs will be installed between Bayly Park and the northern edge of the Valley Trail network in Emerald, and will mark things like trailheads and parks.

A complete update of the Valley Trail maps will also be included in the project.

The aim is to have the project completed by November of this year.

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