Residents vent about asphalt plant 

Public hearing draws lots of opposition; council withholds final decision

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What could have taken days took a prim two hours.

21 people spoke in opposition to the proposed rezoning and movement of the asphalt plant at Tuesday's public hearing. Another 64 letters of opposition were submitted.

Only three speakers and four written submissions supported the proposal.

Council members, who seemed attentive and appreciative of everyone's remarks, withheld their decision on the controversial plan. The matter is expected to come to a decisive vote at the Sept. 21 council meeting.

There was some expectation that the number of speakers could necessitate adjourning the public hearing Tuesday and continuing it Wednesday. But with no more speakers Mayor Ken Melamed declared the public hearing closed at about 8:15 p.m.

The hearing started at 6 p.m. and while there was no limit on the number of times a person could speak, they were all limited to five minutes at a time, with a digital clock counting backward. Several people addressed council twice.

Almost all were calm and rational, delivering speeches fueled by intellect rather than emotion, summing up what the majority of those present Tuesday believe to be a flawed proposal.

There was noticeably less anger at this public hearing than in council question and answer periods in the past few months. But while much of the evening was ruled by calm, well-reasoned discussion, rather than emotion, the frustrations of certain members of the public boiled over.

"To enter into an agreement with Alpine Paving amounts to a contravention of fundamental justice and due process," said resident Gary Carson. "Alpine Paving presently operates in contravention of zoning and therefore (it) would be unjust to rezone a parcel to compensate for its unlawful activity."

Marlene Gervais said the bylaw amendments "are being rushed and made prematurely." She is willing to live with the status quo until a better resolution is reached. The proposed move needs to be reconsidered and a new location should not be chosen until new, comprehensive air movement studies have been done. She questioned the logic that a "shrewd" businessman such as Alpine Paving owner Frank Silveri would invest $2 million in a plant only to reduce production at its facility, which council is proposing.

"I've spent over 30 years in corporate finance and that goes against any business principle I have ever heard of," she said.

"We need factual information, not possible scenarios," she added. "The new location could be putting us in a worse situation than we are in now."

A number of speakers questioned the legitimacy of Alpine Paving's current operations, citing the opinion of lawyers Andrew Gage of West Coast Envrionmental Law and the municipality's own lawyer, Don Lidstone. Both agreed that the company is operating illegally on its current site.

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