Pique Newsmagazine is under new ownership, effective immediately.
On July 2, Glacier Media Group completed its purchase of Pique Publishing Inc., which has owned and operated Pique Newsmagazine since 1994 as an independent entity.
Bob Barnett, who founded the newspaper with his late wife Kathy and other investors, will continue to have a presence at the newspaper through the summer during the transition. All of the newspaper's staff have been retained.
"We are thrilled to welcome Pique to the Glacier family," said Peter Kvarnstrom, president of community media for Glacier. "Pique is a Whistler institution and a well-renowned community publication. We look forward to continuing Pique's tradition of excellent journalism for many years to come."
Said Barnett, "Pique is a publication unlike any other. It is an integral part of Whistler's culture and it is important to leave it in good hands. Glacier's experience in operating community-focused publications and its long-standing presence in the Sea to Sky corridor will serve Pique, its staff and its readers and advertisers well."
Glacier Media, through the Glacier Newspaper Group, publishes more than 100 local daily and weekly newspapers, websites and related publications, serving millions of readers across Western Canada. Glacier newspapers have won more than 50 national and provincial awards for excellence in journalism, photography and creative design and advertising in the past year alone.
Glacier has owned the Whistler Question since 1998. The company's presence in the region also includes the Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, Squamish Chief, Coast Reporter and Bridge River-Lillooet News.
Pique Newsmagazine has 20 employees, not including delivery drivers and regular contributors such as G.D. Maxwell, Michel Beaudry, Feet Banks, Leslie Anthony, Glenda Bartosh and Anthony Gismondi, among others.
Barnett said it wasn't an easy decision to sell the newspaper, but the current economic climate and changes to the industry are challenging for independent publications.
"I went through all kinds of different emotions," said Barnett. "There's a lot of pride in being an independent paper and growing from scratch, and in all the support we've gotten from the community for so many years — and I think of all the people that have worked (at Pique) or have supported us in other ways. But on the other hand I think Glacier has more resources, and there will be more opportunities for people who work here."
Barnett says his long-term plans include staying in Whistler and heading to California in the fall to ride his road bike. He's also interested in improving his French and is thinking about going to a school in France for a month.
Otherwise he'll continue to be involved in the community. Barnett is on the board of the Whistler Arts Council, and made a commitment in May to serve the board for at least two years.
With the transition to Glacier, Barnett has had an opportunity to reflect on the past almost 19 years with the newspaper — from the very first issue in November 1994 that showed up on the newsstands a day late.
"The very first issue was 28 pages. We sat down on Wednesday morning to start putting the paper together, and then the sun went down on Wednesday and we were still working on it," said Barnett. "The sun came up on Thursday morning and we were still working, and we'd missed our press deadline. Meanwhile, Kathy and I were going on Mountain FM at noon to talk about the newspaper coming out tomorrow even though it probably wasn't going to happen.
"We finally made it down to the printers sometime on Thursday night, and of course we missed our scheduled time but they managed to squeeze us in on Friday, so it was Saturday morning before we were distributing the paper with Friday's date on it."
They were hampered by a power outage that occurred in Function Junction when someone knocked down a tree on a power line, and had to move their entire office — three employees and three computers at the time — to the Barnett's residence to be able to continue working.
Most advertisers were okay with the delay, said Barnett. "I think most people bought ads just to be nice, they didn't expect we'd stick around and that they would have to do it every week."
Kathy Barnett, the founding publisher of the newspaper, died in 2008 after being struck by a vehicle while on a road cycling trip with Bob through New Zealand. A memorial fund was created in her honour in 2008, which provides grants to women in Sea to Sky that are looking to improve their leadership skills for the betterment of the community.