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Mountain News: Banffites in a lather about paid parking



BANFF, Alberta — Of all the rights of humankind, is none more cherished than the right to park our cars without plugging coins into meters?

That would seem to be the take-away message in a story out of Banff, the townsite with the eponymously named park. There, elected officials decided to test the idea this summer of paid parking. The Rocky Mountain Outlook reports a vociferous meeting.

Alanna Pettigrew, representing Banff Residents Against Park Parking, reported that her group had collected 1,370 names on a petition against paid parking. She tartly noted that this was more than the votes cast for any one candidate on the council.

One interior issue is whether the town should have long ago built what in Canada is called a parkade. In the states, it's more commonly described as a parking garage or, in more refined settings, parking structure.

The other interior dispute is about special events designed to attract athletes. Banff seems to hold a number of them, drawing some of the cars. "Why allow more events to take up parking? The events cause mayhem with parking and noise," said Cynthia Anderson.

Free-range dogs and the leashed kind

JACKSON, Wyo. — Mountain towns can be roughly divided into two categories: those where dogs run wherever they please and those where they have to be on leashes.

Oh sure, every town has laws. But are they enforced?

Consider Red Cliff, located on what is, from a Vail perspective, the "back" side of Vail Mountain. It began life as a mining town, but never struck it rich like Aspen and Telluride. It's hemmed in tightly by mountains, so much that even the town softball field is tilted. There are only rumors of curbs.

As for dogs? They have, at least in the not-too-distant past, run free, sometimes even in packs. Sometimes, alas, they also got shot.

Jackson tilts toward greater refinement. There are laws against dogs running free and, apparently, enforcement of those laws. Can there also be a place for them to run free?

"If you have 10,000 dogs you have to take care of them," Councillor Bob Lenz said.

But where? One park being considered consists of 11 acres sold at a low price by a couple. A son says they never dreamed of the park being the domain of off-leash dogs, and he wishes the idea were dropped.

Two acres of land for free-ranging dogs doesn't seem like that much, but then, this is Jackson Hole, where 97 per cent of the land is administered by the federal government.

Colorado mountain town has new chapter

SALIDA, Colo. — The organization called has a new chapter in Colorado, its 13th. The Colorado Central chapter is headquartered in the mountain town of Salida, located at the base of a string of 4,260-metre peaks.

Other chapters are located in Aspen and Carbondale, but nearly all the 10 others are found along the Front Range.

The organization was founded by Bill McKibben, the writer and activist, as a way of pushing for grassroots action to address the threat of climate change by reducing combustion of fossil fuels.

The new Central Colorado chapter has a mailing list of 80 people, but maybe 10 to 20 people who can be expected for meetings.

Aspen to become a one-gas station town

ASPEN, Colo. – Aspen is soon to become a one-gas station town. The Conoco station on Main Street last month sold for $6 million. The next life of the prime real estate will not be to sell gas for $4 or $5 per gallon but more likely lodging at $400 or $500 a night, at least during Christmas.

The Aspen Daily News reports philosophizing on the city council. Adam Frisch noted a handful of gas stations in Manhattan, a borough of New York City, for $25 million.

Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron sees this as not at all inimical to Aspen's interests. "We live in a town whose priority is to de-emphasize the automobile," he said. "The fact hat we may be losing a gas station that serves automobiles ... that's not a big concern of mine."

Bear tumbles after infractions

ASPEN, Colo. – No wonder dark alleys have a bad reputation. An off-duty Pitkin County sheriff's deputy was walking in an alley in downtown Aspen around closing time for the bars when she was assaulted.

The 400-pound bear raked her stomach and upper thigh sufficient to require stitches. "This could have been much worse, but fortunately this deputy was able to fight the bear off," said Mike Porras, a spokesman for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "Fortunately, she knew what to do and she didn't run."