Opinion » Alta States

Quality or quantity? WB's latest capital plan a questionable investment



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So what are the WB bigwigs thinking? Do they really believe that all this new uphill capacity will impact their bottom line in a positive way? Or is there a more nefarious plan at work here? (Remember Doug Forseth's submission to council during last fall's community plan review where he told attendees that WB expected to be in the mix for new bed units should they eventually become available?)

But I digress...

Frankly I don't care if the new plan is a ploy for more development rights. It's just not the right move right now. At a time when we should be finding ways to encourage people to linger on the slopes (and actually enjoy the environment), WB's intentions seem to be to stuff as many people as possible on the mountain — regardless of the quality of experience. It just doesn't make sense to me.

But it's easy to criticize without offering alternatives. So here's mine:

Imagine skiing down Boundary Bowl to a new alpine restaurant built right at the edge of timberline. Simple construction; practical design — eco-chalet to the max. A huge wooden deck circumnavigates the structure. Incredible views in every direction. Across Singing Pass, the lofty peaks of the Spearhead — Blackcomb, Tremor Trorey. Just over to the right — the Alaska-like lines of Fissile and massive Fitzsimmons spreading its glacial skirt. It's an inspiring place — both cosy and grandiose at the same time. Truly Coast Mountain in style.

The interior of the chalet is almost like a shrine to Whistler history. Posters and pictures and old timey gear adorn the wall. Top maps of the region are hung in strategic places. The tables are large and the seats are comfortable. Everything about the place says: "sit yourself down for a spell and enjoy the ambiance."

And the owner/host of the place is just as colourful a character as you'd want. Makes it worth your while just to drop in and say hi from time-to-time. He and his family live full time in the chalet (they have a licensing agreement with WB) — and his stories of high-mountain jinx are hilarious. As for the food he and his wife prepare onsite, it's simple fare, but hearty and authentic — great chunky stews and soups, fresh baked breads and pastries. "Mountain soul food," he says proudly.

You can't help it. You and your friends linger over coffee. There's no hurry to get back to the lifts. This is just too beautiful a place. You're going to come back soon, you decide. And everyone agrees.

Cool eh? Now imagine two or three of these owner-operated chalets spread out over WB's vast alpine domain. Think of the experience. The memories. The compulsion to return. So yes, there are other ways of investing that $18 million, Toto. You just have to let your imagination soar a little...

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