Aspen Skiing Co. has become the first American ski area to break the U.S. $50 ticket barrier (about $66 Cdn.) for regular season lift tickets, according to The Oregonian newspaper. Vail is apparently maintaining last year's ticket price of U.S. $48. Whistler and Blackcomb will be releasing their 1995-96 ticket prices next week. An adult ticket for Blackcomb or Whistler Mountain was $46 last winter. Aspen is spending $9 million on improvements this year, including upgrading chairlifts, expanding trails, improving access and supporting new air service. According to The Oregonian, Aspen's skier visits were down 2.5 per cent last year, the second year in a row skier numbers have dropped. The Whistler Public Library is celebrating its ninth birthday with free cake and free books on Sunday, between 1 and 5 p.m. The library is extending an open invitation to all to drop by on Aug. 27 for a piece of cake, donated by the Delta Whistler Resort. Every visitor will also receive one used book from a selection available. The library is projecting to double its previous record for visits, from 25,000 in 1994 to 50,000 this year, thanks to its new location just off Northlands Boulevard. A further 50 per cent increase in visits is expected in 1996. The heavy demand for library services is increasing the pressure on the library's volunteers. The library is looking for volunteers who can help with stocking shelves and children's programs. The long-term solution to cyclists, skaters and other Valley Trail users crossing the highway at Nordic Estates may be a Valley Trail spur on the east side of the highway, from the SFU club cabin to Brio. Parks and Recreation Director Bill Barratt made the comments Monday in response to a letter to council about the need for a safe highway crossing at the entrance to Nordic. Municipal staff have looked at a pedestrian/cycle underpass but say Nordic residents would have to pay some of the cost, which they are reluctant to do. An overpass may be impractical for winter use. A chainlink fence was erected alongside the Valley Trail to prevent people from crossing the highway at the Nordic entrance, but the fence has been torn down by frustrated trail users. Barratt told council funds have been set aside for a Valley Trail spur between Brio and the SFU cabin. Air quality in Function Junction will improve next year with the installation of an odour control tower, part of the $10 million first phase of the sewage plant expansion. In the meantime, venting from the plant — the source of the periodic stench in the Function area — may be done in the middle of the night, rather than during the day.