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Not a snub, but not stopping in Pemberton, there’s the rub

Council won’t be participating in Rocky Mountaineer familiarization tour

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The marketing vice president of Rocky Mountaineer Vacations, Graham Gilley, said it wasn’t a snub.

But Pemberton Mayor Elinor Warner and the council believe that’s exactly what’s going to happen when the Rocky Mountaineer train ceremoniously passes through Pemberton today without any of the town’s elected officials on board.

According to Gilley, Pemberton will be the only town from Whistler to Williams Lake that won’t have any elected officials representing it as the train travels the company’s new Fraser Discovery route.

The Rocky Mountaineer is due to start bringing people on rail tours through Whistler and up to Williams Lake in 2006 and today’s excursion is being called a familiarization trip for all the "major stakeholders."

"It’s not a demonstration of the service that we will be providing, rather it’s an opportunity to share our plan and a desire to meet with the key stakeholders along the route," said Gilley.

Gilley later denied that the company had already decided Pemberton wasn’t going to be a key stakeholder.

Mayor Warner and the Pemberton council were sent invitations and several letters from the company to get them on the train but the problem is that the CEO of Rocky Mountaineer, Peter Armstrong, asked the council to get on in Whistler.

The mayor and council objected to the idea of driving to Whistler, catching a train to Lillooet, then driving back to Whistler, only to have to drive back to Pemberton when Pemberton has a train station in the middle of town.

"I’m sorry because I would have liked to have been on that train but I just can’t see why it wouldn’t stop in Pemberton when we have a perfectly good train station here," said Warner.

Councillor Michelle Beauregard took particular exception to the fact that the train was not stopping and encouraged everyone to be out near the tracks with "welcome to Pemberton" signs and to wave as the train passes.

Gilley said "it was simple operational logistics" that will prevent the train from stopping in Pemberton.

"We have to get up to Williams Lake by a certain time at the end of day and to have an additional stop in Pemberton would delay each subsequent departure by 30 minutes," said Gilley. "Which would then mean to get everyone back by motor coach it would extend the already long 11-hour day.

"So we said we’re going to get the people from Pemberton down to Whistler so we can make the four hour run toward Lillooet.

"And we’ll have an opportunity over those four hours to introduce our business plan, get to know people a little better, enjoy the scenery and really have them enjoy our meal service on board the train.

"So it’s not a snub or any reflection on Pemberton, it’s simply operational logistics… and we hope the next time we operate a train up there we can include Pemberton."

Another point of aggravation for the council is that while Rocky Mountaineer had to make two presentations in Whistler because only 10 people attended the first meeting last fall, the Pemberton council has been inviting the company to make presentations in their town.

The council said it couldn’t do anything until Rocky Mountaineer shows the town’s stakeholders what it wants, or even if it intends to stop in Pemberton.

Rocky Mountaineer is now scheduled to meet with council on June 7.

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