In 2011, Council issued an order to Whistler Aggregate Ltd to cease and desist operating its asphalt plant, located adjacent to the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood. It was believed that the plant was operating in contravention of the RMOW's zoning bylaw and that the plant was not a permitted use in the IP1 zone. In November 2011, the RMOW appeared before the BC Supreme Court to seek a determination, however on January 31, 2012, it was ruled that asphalt production is a permitted use in the IP1 Zone.
Concurrently in 2011, Council directed that asphalt procurement for municipal paving projects be sourced from a facility that is located at a distance greater than 3km from a Whistler residential neighbourhood. This Council directive was a result of voiced community concern regarding air quality, truck traffic, and road dust and debris from the Whistler Aggregates asphalt plant.
Since that time, the RMOW continued to procure asphalt from Whistler Aggregates' Squamish plant through a competitive bid process, informed by the the RMOW's Procurement Policy. However, the purchase of asphalt from Squamish presented some challenges, namely increased GHG emissions due to trucking asphalt from Squamish, inferior quality of asphalt due to cooling during transport and the cost of trucking (approximately $47,000 per year) from Squamish to Whistler. Although the RMOW has not been procuring asphalt from the Whistler Plant, it has remained operational (an average of 48 days per year), servicing clients within the Sea to Sky Corridor including the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
At the June 9, 2020 Council meeting, Council revisited asphalt procurement decisions and moved to change the restrictions to allow asphalt to be purchased from the the plant located near Cheakamus Crossing. Council also moved to reconsider this decision in one year's time (in 2021) and directed staff to continue air quality monitoring, request consolidated plant production days, and encourage ongoing dialogue with the owner on best practices for the site.
At the July 21, 2020 Council meeting, Council directed staff to explore the development of a Partnering Agreement with Alpine Paving to pursue safety improvements, noise and dust (airborne particulate matter) abatement works along the access road into the gravel quarry and asphalt plant tenure area. Finally, at the October 6, 2020 Council meeting, Council authorized entering into a Partnership Agreement with Alpine Paving.
What has changed since 2011?
Plant improvements: Several upgrades have been undertaken onsite at the Cheakmus Crossing Plant and to the plant itself including the installation of a “bag house” exhaust system to suppress particulate emissions, in addition to paving the entrance to the plant. The Cheakamus Crossing asphalt plant has the ability to use recycled asphalt material, resulting in a lower environmental footprint. The road from the asphalt plant and quarry was paved by Alpine Paving to reduce the dust produced by truck traffic.
Air quality: Air quality monitoring been conducted on an ongoing basis by a third party engineering firm. In the 2016 summary report, it was concluded that there was no correlation between the Cheakamus plant operation and particulate concentration in the neighborhood, and that normal wind direction does not bring asphalt plant exhaust towards Cheakamus Crossing and it's residential areas. It should be noted that air quality guidelines were only exceeded during forest fires. Complaints about air quality in Cheakamus Crossing have been very few since 2012, when the plant was upgraded.
Pedestrian and and traffic safety: Safety improvements have been made to the pedestrian crossing at the Train Wreck trailhead.
2017 Licence of Occupation renewal: On March 16, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) responded to a Province of British Columbia referral for a tenure renewal for Whistler Aggregates Ltd. The municipality conveyed opposition to the renewal through a referral response letter to the Ministry of of Forest, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development. In September 2017, the Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development announced renewal of Whistler Aggregates licence of occupation for 10 years.