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Utah expects more skiers

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Compiled by Allen Best

PARK CITY, Utah — Early season bookings were apparently so good that Kip Pitou, president of Ski Utah, a trade organization, predicts a 5 to 8 per cent increase in skier visits this winter for Utah. He cited Web site hits, bookings, and ski pass sales as cause for his good cheer.

But the calendar will be challenging. Bill Malone, who heads the chamber of commerce in Park City, points out that Christmas week will have weekend bookends, instead of straddling two different weeks. Easter, which is a mental bookend for many skiers, this year falls in March, instead of April.

Still the ski areas in and around Park City tallied a record 1.4 million skier days last winter, and a record crowd also dropped by during summer, causing Malone to echo Pitou’s sunny optimism.

While resorts in Utah had good October snows, not much happened after that. Still that early season bragging got lots of publicity, not the more usual its-the-week-before-Thanksgiving-and-the-slopes-are-bare reality.

Banff looks to bar-watch

BANFF, Alberta — Banff has been looking at Whistler for ideas about how to tame the violence at bars. Among the ideas is a bar-watch program.

According to a report in the Banff Crag & Canyon, the idea is make nightclub and bar owners, as well as taxi drivers, aware of undesirable individuals. In this "behave or be banned" world, a patron ejected from one bar would be prohibited from entering another. The bars would be linked by two-way radios, as would police.

The program was reported to have been in place for five years in Whistler, with apparently good success.

Too much housing?

VAIL, Colo. — Judgment day is nigh in Vail and the Eagle Valley. There, after 9/11 and the stock-market slide threw a wet blanket on the high-end real estate market, most of the construction was in low-end "affordable housing." Several large projects with hundreds of units were launched.

Among those projects now going on line is the 142-unit Middle Creek project, a conglomeration of apartments, a day care centre, and assorted other amenities located along Interstate 70 mid-way through Vail. The apartments range from one to three bedrooms, and rent ranges from $730 to $1,800 a month. Parking spaces are additional.

When the $24 million project was being reviewed two years ago, many opponents said the units were not needed, as there was a glut of lower-cost housing. That remains true, but affordable housing proponents say it’s only a matter of time – probably not long, either – before the low-end housing market again becomes as tight as a drum.

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