Plans for asphalt plant to be re-evaluated 


One hundred angry new homeowners have forced council back to the drawing board to see about relocating an asphalt plant away from the Olympic athletes' village.

The homeowners, who will be moving into Cheakamus Crossing months after the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games are over, came out in droves Tuesday night to a council meeting, armed with concerns and questions about air quality and toxicity from the plant.

Council was unable to answer many of the questions.

As tensions and emotions grew in the room, council accepted that it needed to try to find another solution for the hundreds of Whistler residents, many of whom have been living here for more than a decade, waiting for their chance to buy into a piece of the Whistler dream.

For many, Cheakamus Crossing is that dream.

"I felt like we really did make a difference, all of us being there," Tobi Henderson said following the council meeting.

"I guess (now) we just need to show that there's even more support from the community as a whole... who would like to have it relocated."

The Cheakamus Crossing owners were made aware of the asphalt and gravel operations in their disclosure statements signed upon buying their homes.

What they didn't realize was how that proximity could affect life at the new neighbourhood.

Henderson was instrumental in harnessing the public outcry this month after sending an e-mail to the homeowners several weeks ago about what life could possibly be like.

She regularly visits the neighbourhood to check on the progress of her new duplex, desperate to move into it with her husband and two young boys after being on the Whistler Housing Authority waitlist for five years. They are currently crammed into a one-bedroom apartment, counting the days until they move to Cheakamus Crossing.

"Over the past several months I've been out to visit our new home almost every week and I just noticed that the smell of fresh asphalt was often there," said Henderson, interviewed earlier this week.

Then two weeks ago, "The smell was so bad... I couldn't stand there. It made me nauseous."

And that's what she shared with the other new homeowners.

That was enough for Sébastien Frémont and his wife Natasha to take a trip to the site and, much to their surprise, the area smelled heavily of asphalt and there was a layer of smog over the village. They were surprised because they've used the recreation area frequently and never experienced that before.

"Our understanding was that we were going to be living in a beautiful little community with a lot of young families," said Frémont earlier this week.

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