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Mountain News: Glacier Skywalk now open in Alberta



JASPER, Alberta — It's now up to the jury to decide whether the Glacier Skywalk in Jasper National Park profanes the natural setting or assists those seeking to appreciate that setting.

The glass-bottomed skywalk opened on May 1, allowing patrons to peer through their feet 280 metres (920 feet) into the canyon of the Sunwapta River. This is along the Columbian Icefields, about halfway between the towns of Lake Louise and Jasper.

Brewster Travel Canada spent $21 million (Cdn.) on the structure, which won the World Architecture Festival's Future Projects Category Award in 2011. The Calgary Herald explains that the skywalk is anchored into the cliff with 200 metric tons of steel.

A number of environmentalists and Jasper residents opposed it because of concerns about privatization of a national park and potential ecological impact, particularly to mountain goats. Parks Canada approved the project after overseeing an environmental assessment that concluded in 2012.

To venture out onto the glass costs $25 for adults, $12.50 for kids.

The Herald questioned several visitors from Alberta who were at the skywalk on its opening day last Thursday. "It's amazing," Adele Schwartz and Dawn Kuzio, both from Morinville, said in unison.

Brewster president David McKenna told the Rocky Mountain Outlook the goal of the venue is to capture people's imagination and demonstrate the theme of water.

"Our overarching goal at the end of this is to explain to people the canyon they look over is the result of retreating glaciers and you can still see the water from the glacier off in the distance," he said.

He also noted that the deck offers a more intimate view of the Snow Dome, whose melting ice flows into rivers that eventually make their way to three different oceans: the Pacific, the Arctic, and the Atlantic (if you include Hudson Bay as a tributary to that ocean).

Fleeing heat, taxes and crowds

PARK CITY, Utah — Driven by buyers seeking to escape heat, taxes and crowds home sales surged in Park City and adjacent areas during the first quarter of this year, reaching volumes unmatched for winter months since 2007.

New condominiums priced in around the $400,000 range powered some of this growth in sales volume. Also pushing sales were single-family homes in an outlying area near Jordanelle Reservoir. Buyers were mostly people looking for a second home, but at a lower price point than the $1.2 million average price of a home in Park City's high-profile Old Town neighbourhood.

Local real-estate agents tell The Park Record that the people buying into Park City tend to come from the hot-climate states of Florida and Texas, and metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. Marcie Davis, president of the Park City Board of Realtors, further identifies a non-traditional motive for buyers: "They are coming here more and more for the summer."