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Rail company wants Whistler's ideas

Whistler businesses are getting a second chance to brainstorm with Rocky Mountaineer Vacations, the company that will bring tourist trains to the resort by May 2006.

Another informal workshop will be held in the resort at the Telus Conference Centre on Wednesday, March 9 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The idea behind the workshop is to look at ways the rail company can partner with existing tourism products or services in Whistler. The company estimates the Whistler Mountaineer, the tourist train leaving once a day from North Vancouver, will bring 35,000 guests to Whistler in the first year.

The workshops are part of a series of meetings that have been held in various communities across the province as part of ongoing community consultation.

Rocky Mountaineer Vacations first made a presentation in Whistler last November, to a small crowd of only 13 businesses. This was one of the smallest turnouts of all the workshops in the province. Company representatives are coming back this year and hoping to reach more businesses in town.

Response to date has been good said Graham Gilley, vice president of marketing and communications, with 65 businesses signed up to date for the upcoming workshop.

Starting next year the company's trains will bring tourists from Vancouver to Whistler on a three-hour scenic journey once a day. A second train will run from Whistler to Jasper, Alberta with an overnight stop in Prince George.

Gilley could not confirm the location of the Whistler train station but he said they are looking at Creekside as an option.

"We're working with the municipality and trying to do what's best for the overall planning of the area," he added.

RSVPs are required to attend the workshop. Fax the RSVP to Kate Hepburn at 604-932-7231 or e-mail .