Mountain Town News: Locals discount card fails to get traction |

Mountain Town News: Locals discount card fails to get traction

High winds blow snow on the Continental Divide Thursday morning as viewed from the Frisco Marina. Left to right are Grizzly (13,427), Torreys (14,267) and Grays Peak (14,278).
Bill Linfield / special to the daily |

TELLURIDE, Colo. – Shouldn’t ski town residents get discounts for being locals? Wages tend to be low, rent high, and, come March, tempers short.

Many businesses do give out discounts for local residents. But merchants, restaurateurs, and other businesses in Telluride have so far resisted the idea of creating a “Local’s Card.”

The Telluride Daily Planet finds the idea still lacks broad appeal among businesses. It rubs some business managers the wrong way. Instead, they favor loyalty programs for repeat customers.

Does a person in Chicago walk into a store and say, ‘What’s my local’s discount?’ asks Penelope Gleason, co-owner of Bootdoctors, an outdoor goods and rental company.

Then there’s this very fundamental question: Who decides who is a local? “It’s a very awkward, if not humiliating, conversation to ask customers to prove they are ‘local,’” Gleason said.

To wean customers off the entitlement psychology of a local’s pass, Gleason’s business implemented a program that rewards customers for repeat business. Locals also have access to deeply discounted prices during the off-season when the visitors have gone.

Todd Brown, a business coach, tells the Planet that the idea of a discount for locals has proven contentious for decades. Several ideas have been floated, but none have gotten traction.

Motorized snow biking next, big extreme thing?

ASPEN, Colo. – Alex Dicharry thinks that motorized snow bikes will be the next big thing in mountain recreation.

Dicharry, owner of Aspen Motoworx, says the technology has been around for 15 years. Polaris, the snowmobile manufacturer, has recently introduced kits to convert the wheels of a motocross bike into sleds. What remains to be added are more insulation and horsepower, plus heated grips and hand deflectors.

“That’s where we come in as the mad scientist,” Dicharry told The Aspen Times. “This is my laboratory.”

Sooner, rather than later, he said, snow bikes will be available for purchase directly, without the lab work.

With the tracks required for snow travel, a snow bike is about 50 pounds heavier than a motocross bike. It’s still much lighter than a snowmobile, however, making it easier to maneuver in deep snow. On hardpack, however, the single track on the front makes it harder to navigate.

Dicharry said he expects motorized mountain bikes will soon have a place in the motor-friendly X Games.

New mountain resort crosses a big threshold

SQUAMISH, B.C. – Provincial authorities in British Columbia have given a proposed mountain resort the green light, although proponents of Garibaldi at Squamish still must secure a multitude of permits — including, problematically, the support of other municipalities in the region, including Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton.

Whistler, located about 45 minutes away, vehemently challenges Garibaldi’s plans to offer skiing. While just as high as Whistler, it’s closer to ocean waters of Howe Sound. As such, says Whistler, it’s more vulnerable to the effects of warming temperatures.

Squamish, at the foot of the proposed resort, objects that Garibaldi does not meet the community’s smart-growth and sustainable land-use plans. Squamish also has concerns about water supply and wildlife habitat.

Proponents estimate the resort would provide up to 6,00 new jobs and generate near $50 million in additional tax revenue.

Aspen residents’ trash and those of its guests

ASPEN, Colo. – Officials in Aspen and Pitkin County last week sent out a press release announcing that local residents produce 9.1 pounds of garbage per capita compared to the U.S. average of 4.5 pounds.

Really? Well, not exactly, acknowledged county officials when asked to clarify. That figure is all the material that goes to the local landfill, including part-time residents and visitors.

“Every tourist town is going to be above average,” said Liz O’Connell, the city’s waste reduction specialist. The decision to attribute the trash to locals, not visitors, is partly because those conducting the study didn’t think they had a good way to measure the number of people in Aspen at any given time.

Aspen has a second reason for statistically lumping in the refuse of its part-timers and short-timers with that of the full-year residents: They constitute the local economy, and as such Aspen feels responsible for them, too.

“When you realize that we need to be to be responsible for the visitors, that catches people’s attention,” says O’Connell.

Aspen has taken many steps to divert the stream of trash to the landfill. It has bear-proof recycling containers on major street intersections. The city hall and county have both composting and recycling bins. And the town has eight companies that provide varying services of recycling and composting options.

The community has a good reason to want to divert trash from the landfill. Given existing rates of trash, the landfill will be full in 15 years. The landfill may be expanded, said O’Connell, but that’s not a given.

Aspen city officials now want to have conversations with community members, to see what can be done next. What’s important, says O’Connell, is not how much trash Aspen generates, but rather that strategies be created to reduce the trash per capita.

Location matters in case of heart attacks

PARK CITY, Utah – Location is everything in real estate, they say. Location also mattered entirely when a 46-year-old man who was complaining of being lightheaded collapsed on Main Street in Park City. He had suffered a heart attack, and his heart had stopped when bystanders brought him back to life.

They were able to come to his aid rapidly because somebody noticed an automated external defibrillator, or AED, in nearby Miners Park. The man regained consciousness after the equipment was used, and shortly before police and fire rescue teams arrived.

Time was of the essence, said Jay Randall, a sergeant in the Park City Police Department. “Anytime you delay that type of response, the likelihood of bringing them out drops exponentially as time goes by,” he told The Park Record.

Banff see trains as answer to crowding

BANFF, Alberta – Overwhelmed by traffic during summer, Banff would like to see passenger service from Calgary reinstated. The trains that Banff envisions recall the sorts of tourist excursion trains that once delivered visitors to the towns of Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise until at least 1987.

In reaching out to other towns in the Bow Valley with its idea of passenger rail, Banff has in mind the Charlevoix Railway. The tourist train carries passengers 148 kilometres (92 miles) from Quebec along the St. Lawrence River to La Malbaie, a resort community. Another model is the Whistler Mountaineer, which ran for a few years as a day trip between Vancouver and Whistler.

In pushing for passenger trains, Banff hopes to address an internal problem. During summer weekends, the town is packed cheek and jowl with cars. The town has started looking at ways to diminish the need for a car while in Banff. One option being considered would yield a gondola from the town center to the hot springs area near the Banff Centre, above the valley floor.

Diana Waltmann, spokeswoman for the Banff municipality, says the town is “at capacity” on summer weekends. “We can’t accommodate any more cars in town,” she says.

Visitor growth has increased rapidly in the last several years as Canada’s deflating dollar has kept Canadians at home and drawn more Americans. Traffic within Banff grew 6 percent last summer and 9 percent the summer before that. Visitation within Banff National Park grew even more rapidly at 10.4 percent.

Banff is connected to Calgary by the TransCanada Highway, and when traffic is free-flowing, it takes about 90 minutes to get from Banff to downtown Calgary.

Alberta resort towns welcoming refugees

BANFF, Alberta – Catholic and other Christian organizations in the Banff-Canmore communities have been prepared to welcome a few refugees from Syria. The Bow Valley Syrian Refugee Project has been planning to host a family of six, and there may be others.

“The local organization has leased a two-bedroom, two-bath unit in Canmore, and the new arrivals will likely be given free access to the local buses in Canmore and Banff.”

Locals tell the Rocky Mountain Outlook that they intend to provide support for a year, although they note that refugees may find broader support from the wider Syrian community in Calgary.

“If we get a year to a year-and-a-half down the line and the family decided that they would have better opportunities in Calgary, then that would be considered a success,” says Jill Sawyer, a spokeswoman for the refugee volunteers.

Tiny house on wheels is no home after all

JACKSON, Wyo. – Give Tristan Clegg an A+ for resourcefulness. Just the same, the 21-year-old snowboard instructor at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is back to surfing couches.

Clegg, of Salt Lake City, had encountered the steep cost of housing last winter in Jackson and Teton County. Last summer he improvised a camper to fit on the back of his red Ford F-250 pickup. Then he found somebody in Jackson who agreed to let him park it in the driveway.

It’s not exactly pretty. A photo in the Jackson Hole News&Guide shows something that is Pepto-Bismol pink. That’s because there was some cheap paint in the “oops section” at The Home Depot. In that way, he created his portable tiny house for just $2,000. It has a cook stove and a refrigerator and, of course, a bed.

It lacks a bathroom, but the person who gave him permission to use her alley-facing driveway also gave him a key to the house, so that he could use a bathroom and get showers.

Susan Pieper said she was motivated to help out a young resident but was also driven to compensate for having a large home with only two occupants. She called it a “way to offset my carbon footprint to share the planet with someone whose carbon footprint is much, much, much smaller than mine.”

But neighbors were unhappy, and so Clegg has been evicted from his free space, as the living arrangement violates town laws. Paul Anthony, a planner for the town of Jackson, said the issue of tiny houses remains to be resolved.

“We will have to address that, whether it’s tiny homes or 250-square-foot studios, for seasonal workers especially,” he told the News&Guide

Jim Stanford, a town councilor, has suggested a campground in Jackson for seasonal workers. When younger and a seasonal himself, Stanford camped for three weeks.

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