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Can recreation and conservation coexist?


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Alberta provides land

CANMORE, Alberta — The provincial government in Alberta is giving Canmore 16 acres of land to be used for affordable housing. The agreement first provides five acres for rental apartments, half of which must be kept at below market rates for 20 years. The land can then be leveraged into creating more affordable housing.

The details of the deal remain obscure, and the Rocky Mountain Outlook was markedly suspicious. "Maybe this is the best deal ever bestowed upon this cash-strapped, over-inflated municipality," said the newspaper. "Sure would be nice to know."

Stubbornness costing Telluride

TELLURIDE, Colo. — Owners of private land both immediately east and west of Telluride wanted to develop, and in both cases the town said heck no. Now, says Seth Cagin, publisher of The Telluride Watch, the chickens from those inflexible, unyielding decisions are coming home to roost.

On the east side, where the box canyon sweeps toward majestic Ingram Falls, the Idarado Mining Co. wanted to do some high-end housing development in exchange for open space dedication and affordable housing. The town said no, but now it will have to come up with millions – for affordable housing and for open space preservation – that it could have gotten for free.

Add to that the cost of preserving land on the west side of town at $25 to $50 million, another $8 million to pave the highway that leads into Telluride, water system repairs – well, you get the idea. Telluride, suggests Cagin, is up the financial creek without a paddle.

Aspen, Vail see eye to eye

ASPEN, Colo. — It’s rare that the Aspen Skiing Co. and Vail Resorts Inc. see eye to eye on anything. A ballot initiative before Colorado voters provides one of those rare opportunities.

The initiative would mandate that utility companies increase their sale of energy from renewable sources to 10 per cent of their total portfolios. Generating electricity by trapping the energy of wind is currently becoming comparable with the cost of electricity generated by burning coal.

Both Vail Resorts and Aspen Skiing have been buying wind-generated electricity for several years. Aspen ties its support directly to the prospect of global warming. Vail is more hesitant about that link, but instead talks about clean air. Vail spends about $3 million annually in electricity and other utility costs and expects that to increase if the initiative passes, as polls suggest it will.

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