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Albertans eye B.C. resort collaborative



BANFF, Alberta — Twelve resort communities in British Columbia, including Whistler, established a collaborative to gain a larger, more effective voice in both provincial and national affairs. That collaborative, established in 2002, has been successful in wringing some concessions, including a greater share of the tax collected on hotel rooms.

Now, a handful of communities in Alberta are hoping to do the same. They include Banff, Jasper, and Canmore.

Money, of course, motivates this organizing. While jurisdictions at most U.S. resorts have authority to collect sales taxes that finance their infrastructures, Canadian municipalities are reliant on property taxes and fees from licences and permits. That leaves them hard-pressed to finance infrastructure improvements for seasonal influxes.

To be eligible to be part of the B.C. collaborative, communities must show they have a ratio of tourism accommodation beds to permanent population beds that is two-thirds greater than the provincial average.

Height an issue in Vail

VAIL, Colo. — Vail residents on July 11 will decide whether to stay the course with the redevelopment of one of the town’s 1960s-style shopping complexes, called Crossroads. Nobody questions that the project seems as dated as shag carpet. What is being debated is whether the new building, which will nudge 100 feet, will be too tall and bulky.

In a sense, this coming vote is a referendum on all of Vail’s redevelopment projects. With cranes dotting the town’s commercial core at the base of Vail Mountain, more than $1 billion in redevelopment is well underway. When all is done, 700 to 800 new hotel beds will be provided. But the phoenix of new buildings will, in every case so far, be taller and bulkier than the old buildings. And more, including the redevelopment project in question, could be coming.

The Crossroads redevelopment is called Solaris, and it was rejected last year by the town council in a 4-3 vote. In November, two of the older council members, who were in their 50s and 60s, were turned out. Taking their place were people in their 30s and 40s. The new council then reversed the previous vote.

Solaris is to include a 10-lane bowling alley, which seems to be a major attraction to Vail’s younger residents, many of whom are occupants of deed-restricted affordable housing. The project also includes a three-screen moving theatre, an ice rink, and 69 condominiums. Also: $1.1 million in public art and a public plaza suitable for small concerts.

The Vail Daily has solicited opinions from a variety of individuals. Andy Wiessner, who lives in the nearby Potato Patch neighborhood, one of the town’s most exclusive neighborhoods, argues that Solaris would be too much. "I don’t quarrel with the renewal," he said. "I just quarrel with the size of the buildings." This trend of bigger and taller, he said, is removing Vail from the status of "village". "It won’t be quaint," he added.

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