Banff losing business to Western Slope |

Banff losing business to Western Slope

Allen Best

BANFF, Alberta ” The ski areas in Banff National Park have been losing business even as those on the western side of the Continental Divide in British Columbia have been gaining.

“The interior of B.C. saw a growth of 100,000 skiers last year; our decline was 80,0000,” said Crosbie Cotton, director of the National Parks Ski Association. In all, he said, skier days in Banff have dropped 35 percent in the last five years.

“Panorama, Kicking Horse, Sun Peaks, Silverstar … B.C.’s open for business,” he said.

Cotton gave several reasons for the slide in Banff, which is located in Alberta. The B.C. government has set out to aggressively grow the tourism component of the economy.

Transportation is improving, with the Cranbrook airport potentially being expanded to accommodate charter jets. As well, increasing numbers of Canadians are heading to the U.S. to ski.

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At least in Alberta, the belief is that American ski operators are using real estate sales to subsidize the ski product.

The Rocky Mountain Outlook reports that, at a Banff National Park Planning Forum held in late November, the financial picture of the ski areas in Banff was portrayed as weak or worse.

Marmot Basin in Jasper has lost money in the last two years, Lake Louise is just emerging from bankruptcy protection, and Sunshine has taken on more debt.

Operators of Norquay, which was created in 1926, making it the oldest ski resort in Banff, “have not taken a penny out of the operation and cannot recapitalize.” It is described as the most at-risk resort.

Also blamed for the financial instability of the resorts are regulations imposed four years ago that mandate 15-year long-range plans. Cotton said each ski area could spend $500,000 to $1 million “to do a plan with unknown results.”

SACRAMENTO, Calif. ” Landowners who leave forests standing will be rewarded by California.

The goal in this program of the California Climate Action Registry seeks to keep carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas, in trees and out of the atmosphere.

The Associated Press notes that California loses 60,000 acres of forest to development annually. That’s the equivalent to 2.5 million new cars going on the roads every year. The article did not say how the landowners will be rewarded.

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