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Merger concerns will be listened to By Don Anderson The director of marketing for Whistler Mountain says the public’s concerns about last month’s mega-merger with Intrawest Corporation will be listened to. "I think people who are concerned about (the merger) should and will be asked to speak up and identify their concerns, being as specific as possible," David Perry said earlier this week. The merger, announced Dec. 18, drew together Intrawest, Whistler Mountain Holdings Ltd. and Copper Mountain, Inc. of Colorado in a deal worth upwards of $260 million. The effect of the merger has rippled through the valley and while many residents view it as a positive move, others have expressed concern that Whistler, the family-owned mountain, will become another cog in Intrawest’s corporate wheel. Perry suggests otherwise. "I think we have potentially the best of both worlds, retained involvement of the families in the larger company yet we now have a partnership that can improve and enhance Whistler with capital development. "What are people afraid of losing?" Perry, who previously worked for Intrawest, says that although the company "moves quickly and aggressively" they understand that "there is real asset value in the history and character of a place." He cites Intrawest’s redevelopment of Mont Tremblant in Quebec as an example where a large corporation can improve a resort while maintaining and respecting its history and culture. "Tremblant was a true transformation," says Perry. "It was very badly run down and they came in and said, ‘What’s great about Tremblant is its history, flavour, character and roots in the Laurentians of Quebec.’" Since the purchase, Intrawest has injected more than $350 million into the resort and it now boasts the largest snowmaking operation in Canada. Perry says Intrawest’s commitment to Tremblant’s history has created a better resort, and hasn’t offended old, die-hard Tremblant skiers. The same can be expected at Whistler Mountain, he says. Fans of Whistler shouldn’t confuse what Intrawest has created on Blackcomb with what will happen to "their" mountain. "What has suited Blackcomb doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what suits Whistler," he says. There has been no indication since the merger where and when the $35 million in capital improvements promised by Intrawest will be spent on Whistler Mountain, but Perry says the Creekside redevelopment will kick in this summer. "I think we have to have faith in the players, not just (Blackcomb president) Hugh Smythe but also some of the players at Intrawest and the fact that Whistler’s people are going to be here and involved. The people who run this mountain today are still going to be involved," he says. "It’s not like the Intrawest juggernaut is going to come in and tell Whistler what to do. This is truly about a merger and combination of assets, both human and capital assets."

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