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Segway plans roll back into town

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If Caterina Alberti's business idea is a success there will be Segways on the Valley Trail by the summertime.

"I believe the Segway HT will be a perfect fit (with Whistler)," she said Monday.

The two-wheeled battery-powered human transporter is billed as a revolutionary way to move humans.

Alberti's plan is to operate the Segway business under an existing tour operator in Whistler. Guests will be able to rent a Segway in the village, roll it out of the village past the conference centre and cruise along the Valley Trail around the Whistler Golf Course.

All the guests will have in-depth safety training before they operate the machine, she said.

The business is still in the planning stages at this point. Alberti went before Whistler councillors on Monday night to give them notice of her plans to get a license to operate a Segway business and to measure support for her project.

"I just wanted to make sure that everyone was on board," she said.

Last July council approved a six-week trial period for a Segway business owner from Vancouver, with a stipulation that the machines could only go in the areas where bikes were allowed. For example, the Segways could not be ridden in the pedestrian village.

The trial period did not go ahead due to time constraints.

Mayor Hugh O'Reilly and Councillor Kristi Wells expressed concern about over-crowding on the Valley Trail and said they would want to ensure that the Segways are compatible with other users.

Wells said if a Segway trial period is successful that doesn't mean a Segway business could be a success in Whistler.

"(It's) prudent to say that there are other concerns," said Wells.

Alberti is spending the week in New Hampshire for a training session on the Segways.

Aussie firefighter gets Whistler welcome

Whistler council officially welcomed an Australian firefighter to the local fire service this week.

Greg Blackman from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade in Melbourne is on a one-year exchange with Whistler firefighter Brian Buchholz.

"It's a great honour to be selected for the fellowship position," Blackman told council on Monday night.

Blackman and his wife arrived in Whistler on Jan. 17 and two days later Buchholz and his family left for Melbourne.

This is the first international exchange for a Whistler firefighter.

Fire Chief Bruce Hall said all the credit for setting up the exchange lies with Buchholz, who heard about the program through a colleague in the North Vancouver District.

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