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Mountain News: No help from Alberta for part-timers



CANMORE, Alberta – People who own vacation homes in Canmore damaged by the flooding of Cougar Creek in late June are flat-out of luck when it comes to getting provincial aid.

The Rocky Mountain Outlook explains that the last municipal census showed that 37 per cent of residential property is owned by non-permanent residents. But provincial flood-relief funds will only be available to people whose primary residence was damaged.

No tally of the damages has been reported, although the Outlook says 189 families had been issued flood-relief cheques by the end of June.

No homes seem to have been lost in the flood at Canmore, but it was by a cat's whisker of safety.

But damage to the tourism economy of Canmore, located at the east gate to Banff National Park, continues. Hotels should have been full for the long weekend of Canada Day, which corresponds closely with America's Fourth of July celebration. But Tulene Steiestol, director of marketing for Canmore Business and Tourism, said she didn't see a single no-vacancy sign along the Bow Valley Trail. She speculated that some people who might ordinarily be visitors were, in fact, attending to their own flood-related problems at home in Calgary or elsewhere.

In addition, the flood impacted the treatment capacity for Canmore's water supply, yielding a boil water order. That probably influenced some people to stay home or go elsewhere.

Arts boosters see economic gain

MT. CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – A 500-seat auditorium seems to be the price of admission for a major destination mountain resort. That's the conclusion in Mt. Crested Butte, the slope-side municipality next to the ski area of that same name.

"The gold standard is essentially a 500-seat facility," explains Woody Sherwood, executive director of the Mountain Crested Butte Performing Arts Center.

It's small enough for intimacy, he explains to the Crested Butte News, but large enough to draw performers for whom 500 seats is the minimum.

Sherwood and other boosters are trying to raise money, up to $23.5 million. To help that cause, they have released a list of naming opportunities. For example, a donation of $1.5 million will get your name on the performing arts hall. Other naming opportunities can be had for $100,000.

So far, they have raised about half of their goal, if you count the value of the land donated by the ski area operator and the municipality.

The boosters paint the arts center as a key piece of the economic puzzle of the Gunnison Valley. "These buildings are economic engines for communities, and they have been since Lincoln Center in New York City," explains Bud Franks, the lawyer for the capital campaign. "It never fails; it doesn't matter what the size is, they're economic and cultural engines as gathering places for a community."

Just what do other ski towns have for performing arts? A quick scan suggests Sherwood is right that all the big resorts have big centres: Vail's Ford Amphitheater, an outdoor venue, has 1,260 sets covered and 1,300 lawn seats, while Aspen's Wheeler Opera House has 503 seats, and Beaver Creek's Vilar Center has 538 seats.

In Wyoming, Jackson's Performing Arts Pavilion has 500 seats, and out at the base of the big ski mountain there's the 740-seat Walk Festival Hall.

Telluride's Sheridan Opera House seems to attract no end of talent with just 238 seats. Up on the mountain at Telluride, however, is a much bigger and newer conference hall, which has 500 seats.

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