Mountain News: Banff maternity ward delivering ‘natives 

BANFF, Alberta - The word "native" often gets misused. It means where you are from originally, especially where you were born.

And, for many expectant couples in Banff, it does matter that their offspring are born in Banff, not down the road in Canmore or Calgary. When the maternity ward was closed earlier this year because of a shortage of nurses, there was a hue and cry, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

That obstetrics unit has now been reinstated, and Naomi Langer-McIntosh, the first mother to give birth in the reopened clinic, explains why Banff is so important.

"I've always said that Banff has wrecked me for anywhere else," said Langer-McIntosh, an events and wedding planner. "It has all the wonderful things of living in a national park, but also living in a small town with big city amenities," she said.

"You can go and do all the wonderful hiking and biking right there, but you can also go to restaurants and see ballet and concerts."

Banff has 115 new natives per year and continues to grow in population, despite being unable to spread out, due to its location as an island within Banff National Park. Parks Canada, the park administrator, had believed the build-out population would be 8,000.

But the population has grown to 8,800 people. Instead, of spreading out, Banff city officials have been revising regulations to allow more dense development. As well, the community has expressly tried to provide less expensive housing.

About half of Banff's population is composed of people who are 18 to 36.

Brazen bears a bother

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. - Among Crested Butte's many bear stories during recent weeks is that told by Paul Merck. He returned home late one evening recently to find a huge bear eating vanilla ice cream out of his refrigerator and freezer.

"He ate two and a half gallons of vanilla ice cream but left me the chocolate, ate a full thing of butter, yogurt and cheddar cheese," Merck told the Crested Butte News. "But luckily he didn't drink my beer."

Merck told the newspaper that he instructed the bear to leave, and the bear complied, exiting the same window he had used to access the home. The bear managed to avoid breaking anything although, as you might expect, the kitchen was quite a mess.

Elsewhere in Crested Butte, a couple had put their children to bed and was watching television when they heard the door open. They said hello.

"When no one answered, I went to the top of the stairway and looked down and saw one of the biggest bears I've ever seen," said Channing Boucher. "I screamed like a stuck pig as loud as I could. My kids were in the bedroom four feet away from that bear. My heart was coming through my shirt."

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