Mountain News: Grizzly bear helps close out ski area 

click to enlarge SHARE BEAR A grizzly bear surprised skiers at Lake Louise by wandering through the ski area. Photo Submitted
  • SHARE BEAR A grizzly bear surprised skiers at Lake Louise by wandering through the ski area. Photo Submitted

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta — People often dress in costume at ski areas on closing day, but this was no ursus arctos horribilis masquerade. It was a real grizzly bear lumbering across the slopes of the Lake Louise ski area.

Skiers were quickly shunted to other areas, and the Rocky Mountain Outlook indicates that the operator spun the news as a win-win.

"It shows Lake Louise and bears can be in the same area peacefully," said Sandy Best, director of business development. "In summer, it's one of the few places in Banff National Park where you're guaranteed to see one of these great creatures in their natural environment."

The grizzly's appearance was one of the earliest yet for the ski area, which is located about 56 kilometres west of the town of Banff. The early appearance was attributed to a mild winter and unseasonably warm weather in early May.

Banff, the town, recorded a high temperature for May 6 that was only matched once since record-keeping began 1892.

She hangs up skis on 100th birthday

DILLON, Colo. — From what The Denver Post reported, Elsa Bailey is nothing but a character. She celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday by going skiing at one of North America's highest ski areas, Arapahoe Basin. It also happens to be the only one still open in Colorado.

Bailey began skiing 75 years ago. Tickets at the rope tow in Vermont cost a dollar. "But I had so much energy in those days I walked up the hills and skied down," she said. "If I could walk up, then it didn't cost anything."

The Post's Jason Blevins says she worked as an occupational therapist but fed a rebel streak with adventures in hiking, kayaking and scuba diving across the world. Just last fall, she went alone to Brazil and then returned by way of Disney World to ride the Space Mountain roller coaster.

"It was scary," she said. So she rode it five times.

She has now hung up her skis, but her hunger for travel remains strong. She intends to tour the Norwegian fjords, see polar bears in the Arctic, and visit Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.

talkers invited to pitch ideas at TEDx

CANMORE, Alberta — The idea of ideas, especially expressed in public speaking forums, really seems to be taking off. Aspen has its Ideas Festival coming in late June, and Whistler will host a TED forum in September.

Now comes Canmore, which will host a TEDx in October. This event — note the added x — is independently organized, but with the same idea of generating "ideas worth spreading." Speakers for the Canmore event would need to fill spaces of 18, 12 or six minutes on their topics notes the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

"The beauty of TED is you don't have to be an expert," said Lisa Power, chairperson of the speaker selection committee. "You could be somebody who's worked at a garage and has a new idea. You might have an idea on how to improve the world, have a technology idea, know how to treat kids better, how to stop hunger. It's wide open."

The talks will last for a day and admission will be $145 for adults and $25 for those under 18.

Foreign labour needed

JASPER, Alberta — The words seem like they could have been spoken in Vail, Frisco or Steamboat just five, 10 or 15 years ago. But they were uttered by the owner of a bakery in Jasper, the eponymously named town within Jasper National Park.

"Plain and simple, my business would not exist or survive if I did not have a foreign workers," said owner Kim Stark. "I honestly, truly try my best to recruit Canadians for jobs at my store, but Canadians do not apply. They do not want to work as a night-shift baker, nor as a full-time, year-round barista."

Stark tells the Jasper Fitzhugh that she has been hiring foreign workers through Canada's temporary foreign worker program for four-and-a-half years. Before that, she was working 16-hour days, seven days a week.

The Fitzhugh notes public outcry after media revealed two abuses of the program in Canada. At question is whether companies use the foreign-labour program as a way of cutting wages. In Alberta, its once-high-octane oil economy now sluggish, the insinuation is that there are plenty of job-seekers.

But Stark says that tourist towns are different. "We are tourism driven, with a higher than average cost of living and nowhere to live," she said. "Those attributes don't make it easy to recruit long-term employees or certain foreign workers once they achieve permanent resident status. I pay above-average wage and I pay the same to Canadians and foreign workers alike, and my wage increases are based on work performance and loyalty, not colour of skin."

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