By Dan Walton
An extended ski season, the 2015 International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing World Championships, and even the possibility of a resort municipality for Panorama were among the topics discussed by
Panorama Mountain Village owner Rick Jensen at a luncheon in Invermere on Thursday, September 5th.
Skiers and boarders will enjoy three extra weeks of alpine season this winter, as the resort will open on Friday, December 6th and stay open through Sunday, April 20th, Mr. Jensen told Rotary Club members at their meeting on Thursday.
That longer season can now be put to better use with the introduction of the Pano Pass, which is an all-inclusive season lift ticket for the slopes, the tube park, tobogganing, and nordic skiing.
For the Paralympic skiing championships in February 2015, Panorama will be undergoing terrain changes to ensure the runs conform to proper elevation, degrees of slope, and the safety restrictions.
Were going to create a downhill run that will be one of three in North America as far as technical aspects of this downhill ski run, he told The Pioneer after his presentation.
Looking further into the future than the IPC competitions, Mr. Jensen speculated about the relationship Panorama will have with the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort.
Were probably the only ski hill that is supportive, because the majority of ski hills see it as possibly cannibalizing some of their skier visits, he said. He said the development of Jumbo will increase Panoramas global exposure, and make it the de facto bedroom community to the larger resort.
I think well probably be running bus trips back and forth; I think there may be joint management opportunities, and there will certainly be joint marketing opportunities, he said.
That topic prompted one member of the audience to ask, Are you going to have a mayor too?
While the question initially enticed laughter, the crowd was surprised to hear the response from Mr. Jensen.
I think one day Panorama will be a resort municipality, he said.
As it grows, I think it will be a natural transition into a resort municipality so that the tax base stays in Panorama, and theres a pretty big tax base up there right now. One day there will be (a mayor).
Mr. Jensen said 12 of 21 lots in Panoramas Trappers Ridge subdivision have now been sold, and that the subdivision is currently having its curbs put in, with pavement to be laid in two weeks.
Addressing criticism that Panorama is an economic provider of mere McJobs, Mr. Jensen argued that the business annual payroll of $8 million dollars is spread between 110 year-round, full-time employees, and an additional 360 to 380 during the winter and summer seasons.
We have accountants, engineers, millwrights, carpenters, electricians, plumbers a lot of really good paying jobs that are good for the regional economy, he said.
The majority of that $8 million is spent within the region. It is an important job creator and its important to the economy. Its not just the minimum wage jobs.
With recent changes to the Seasonal Workers Program, the resort must now pay $275 more than last year per international employee.
It is a bit of an inhibitor; we cant get 325 Canadians to work here in the wintertime, he added.