Another tourist train proposed for B.C. Interior 

Compiled by Allen Best

INVERMERE, B.C. — There continues to be talk of another tourist train into the British Columbia Interior.

The operator proposing the new service, Rocky Mountain International Railtour Co., already carries 50,000 passengers annually on tours across the Canadian Rockies, starting at Calgary before continuing to Kamloops, and also from Jasper to Kamloops, in both cases continuing on to Vancouver.

In this plan, scheduled to begin in 2006, the company would begin the three-day tour at Calgary, continuing on to Golden, Invermere, Cranbrook, and Fernie, continuing back to Lethbridge and Calgary. Stops would be at Golden and Cranbrook, or Fernie. Promoters say that 80 per cent of those on the trains would come from outside of Canada.

The Invermere Valley Echo reports that an initial trial run of the excursion train is expected in June in order to probe interest. However, no formal discussions have been held with Canadian Pacific Rail, which owns the tracks, as to costs and schedules.

Balance tourism strategy with wildlife

INVERMERE, B.C. — Wildlife impacts are the key issue not only with the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort near Invermere, but more generally the British Columbia long-term tourism strategy. So says Brian McLaughlin, a councillor in Invermere.

Writing in the Invermere Valley Echo, McLaughlin says he doesn’t doubt there are buyers for real estate at Jumbo Valley. From Panorama to Fernie to Whistler, the strength of the market for resort real estate is clear, he says. And the area has all the potential to attract amenity migration. Furthermore, there is the potential of three million people in Calgary by the year 2025.

But if the tourism strategy is to succeed, it must be met by an "equally aggressive provincial wildlife habitat management program," he says. He endorses, for example restrictions of motorized vehicles in time and space. Without such restraint, he suggests, projects like Jumbo Glacier Resort will have short-term gains, but little lasting value.

68,000-square-foot home fit for prince

ASPEN, Colo. — No matter how the common folk are doing in Saudi Arabia, the aristocracy is living luxuriously, as is evident from a recent report in Aspen.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, is expanding his existing 53,000-square-foot house in Aspen by 15,000 square feet. He also has a 7,500-square-foot house nearby.

Bandar has owned property in Aspen since the early 1980s, about the time he became the ambassador. How much time he spends in Aspen is something of a mystery, reports the Rocky Mountain News, but the amount of taxes is not. Last year alone he paid $205,000 in property taxes. He also gives liberally to local non-profits and other organizations.


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