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Gerd Mannsperger

Aviation firm seeks to keep structure

Alpine Aviation is calling on city council to let it to keep year-round the structure it has placed at Schwatka Lake.

By Stephanie Waddell on November 20, 2018

Alpine Aviation is calling on city council to let it to keep year-round the structure it has placed at Schwatka Lake.

Addressing council Monday night, Alpine Aviation owner Gerd Mannsperger highlighted his appeal to a bylaw order that he remove the structure that was placed at Alpine’s site earlier this year.

He also said the company wants a long-term lease with the city for the location and to have winter storage space at the site.

As Mannsperger noted, Alpine Aviation, created in 1997, has been operating from Schwatka Lake since.

Along with its own operations, the company has a rescue boat and spill kit on hand for use by others who need it.

“We have displayed stewardship for 20 years,” Mannsperger said. Sections of the city’s Official Community Plan and Schwatka Lake area plan encourage longer-term lease arrangements, he noted.

Speaking specifically to the current situation, Mannsperger noted the existing structure that was put up this year is made up of two stacked Sea-Cans, creating a two-storey structure for office space and storage.

They’ve been placed in a way to allow for better traffic flow through the area, he said.

All required permits and inspections have been done, he said.

“The structure, therefore, meets any of the codes,” Mannsperger argued. The city has allowed for winter storage structures in other areas, he pointed out.

He then argued for council to consider his appeal on the order to remove the structure.

While council didn’t raise any questions with Mannsperger, Coun. Dan Boyd questioned city staff about the situation later in the meeting.

Pat Ross, the city’s acting director of development services, explained that every year, Alpine Aviation pulls a dock permit to use the site through the summer. In the past, it has had a trailer on the site along with occasionally having an RV there as well.

Last June, he said, the trailer that had been placed there was removed and the two-storey Sea-Can put in place.

That was done without the required permit. But after the bylaw department intervened, Alpine worked with the city to get the inspections and permits done to allow for the structure.

Alpine officials were co-operative and worked with the city on that, with the permits and such eventually approved. However, they also made it clear they wanted to pursue a more permanent lease for the area.

Ross explained the Schwatka Lake area plan doesn’t provide for permanency on the lake. He also noted there are different standards to be met for more permanent structures than is required for temporary structures.

The city also made it clear through the permits the structure would have to be moved by Oct. 31, Ross said.

On Nov. 7, with the structure not removed, the city issued the bylaw order for the removal that Mannsperger is now appealing.

Ross noted staff will soon be preparing a detailed report on the appeal. Council has the ability to cancel the order, modify it or keep it in place.

Coun. Samson Hartland was absent from last night’s meeting.

Comments (28)

Up 10 Down 0

Robert C on Dec 11, 2018 at 8:10 pm

What a harmful/shameful decision. Tourism dollars and the spinoffs to a community from a business like this are substantial. As a tourist to Whitehorse this has been a major attraction for me and many others if I judge it on the magazine and photo ops. Didn’t I see a prime minister and his wife hold a press conference there? Must be doing something right.

Up 10 Down 0

Rob Cumming on Dec 11, 2018 at 10:19 am

With a large part of the Yukon‘s economy based on tourism you would think that the city fathers would encourage rather than hinder a business which provides very important service to Yukon tourism.

Up 8 Down 0

Colin Pacitti on Dec 10, 2018 at 10:51 pm

I have been coming to Whitehorse, from my home in England, for over 10 years, en route to fish Wolf Lake. On every such visit, Alpine Aviation has provided a welcoming and excellent service, flying me and my companions. Gerd and Janet have made the flights into and out of Wolf Lake a pleasure and an adventure. These people are a splendid advertisement for Whitehorse and it would be a travesty if their business was put at any risk by overly enthusiastic regulation. I do hope to enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee in their lakeside office next time I visit.

Up 23 Down 1

Ross Peterson on Nov 27, 2018 at 2:18 pm

The city of Whitehorse is being completely unreasonable. Gert and Janet run a great business. Leave them alone to do what they have been doing successfully for years. A business that is well respected by many.

Up 24 Down 1

Ken Taylor on Nov 27, 2018 at 1:45 pm

City Council needs to take a much longer view of this issue. Council should accept that this lake is an excellent site for float plane operations. It's proximity to the city center, desirable geographic location (maximum open water for float plane operation), and history of successful float plane operations make a strong case for developing a policy that will support businesses that are willing to make longer term commitments/investments in the infrastructure needed to operate safely on this lake.

Up 20 Down 2

Josey Wales on Nov 24, 2018 at 2:12 am

Upon pontificating.....I support Alpine.
Why? I do not recall seeing the annual removal of that hideous sea can beside the old fire hall....for near 15 years...post millions spent on “beautification” of the riverfront?
Nope...been looking at that every time one goes for a stroll in that hood.

Maybe take mayor quimby out for a few cheeseburgers and “persuade” he “chat” with “the others”.
Tell them you are shovel ready for some huge project that does not fit with current plans, and they will stampede to the chamber to make it happen.

Good luck Gerd, my shot was more directed at our elected and appointed morons and the atmosphere of.
My apologies to Gerd at Alpine and those that felt my sixes were aimed at Alpine...it read that way yes I agree.

Still stand on my being OK with reclaimed public space.

Up 28 Down 3

Dentist on Nov 22, 2018 at 3:49 pm

Does Alpine Lease the property from the city or are they squatting? I don’t think they should have to move, but I feel it would be advantageous for them to have a lease. As far as the 30 meter setback goes, that would put him in the middle of the road.

Also I am wondering if the aviation branch of the Territorial Government or Transport Canada have anything to do with this.

Up 51 Down 5

Jim on Nov 22, 2018 at 11:15 am

This is just another example how the City’s management and planning fail business. The City of Whitehorse is not open for business. Where exactly would the city like to put the float plane industry? Remove the containers every fall and bring them back in the spring. Seems like a needless cost to bear. Maybe we need a little education at the city as to what it takes to run a business.

Up 18 Down 6

Jacko on Nov 21, 2018 at 7:47 pm

Blow up the dam, no lake no problem. OH and line up all the Nimbies at the bridge to Riverdale. Problem solved. NOW!! We can start getting things done in the Yukon. LOL.

Up 11 Down 31

what? on Nov 21, 2018 at 4:07 pm

Trump invented airplanes and they have motors that go on water and then they land on water and the motor has oil in it and there is a building that could house sheltered animals but the water fowl will hear the motor and the oil from Trump's invention will lead to more birds being loud and we need to make sure that the water is not spoiled with the building.

That is my number one concern!

Up 44 Down 2

Tater on Nov 21, 2018 at 3:22 pm

Sounds like another example of "rules were made for when brains run out".

And Oldtimer, just to let you know, the City does not draw surface water for its water system.

Up 76 Down 4

Roger Gillies on Nov 21, 2018 at 8:08 am

Alpine Aviation is more than just a business. They are a presence on the lake deterring vandals not only for their own aircraft, but for others. They are ambassadors for the Yukon to the steady stream of tourists who pass by and stop in to check out the planes and ask questions about the area. Their rescue boat has been used on numerous occasions to avert disaster.

Let them maintain their presence on the lake. It is doing far more good than harm.

Up 67 Down 3

M Grant on Nov 21, 2018 at 4:47 am

The City encouraged Alpine Aviation to reconfigure their office buidling from a camp trailer into the double-stacked Sea Can configuration they have now. In doing so, it looks like the City is using the move to demonstrate that Alpine has lost their tenure in what was nearly a 20 year presence. Removing their operation every winter is obviously a needless hardship for them. Hopefully common sense will prevail and they'll be issued a permanent lease like Alkan Air now occupies on Blacksheep Aviation's former location. To torment this small business in such an insolent manner is so purely draconian and obstructionist. Pat Ross or whomever is driving this should be embarrassed.

Up 57 Down 3

Lawrence Schnig on Nov 20, 2018 at 11:35 pm

I cannot see why this would be a hindrance to anybody least of all the people of Whitehorse as it is an out of the way place & causes no harm during winter months & during the summer I find it to be a pleasant attraction, maybe the only drawback would be winter road maintenance that I believe would not be a big deal as it does not have to extend the duration of the road.

Up 68 Down 4

B. Graham on Nov 20, 2018 at 9:59 pm

The city is being difficult for no clear reason. 1. It isn't a permanent structure as it has no foundation. 2. Alpine isn't looking to use the building as housing 3. Alpine is an important part of our Tourism and Transport industries, that bring a lot of money into the Territory and it doesn't just profit their own business.
Get off it COW. Why is a municipal government making things difficult for small business? It makes no sense and it doesn't serve the city. You are civil servants do your job and work with the locals not against them. Let's cut the B.S. and get this settled.

Up 66 Down 4

Warren Bork on Nov 20, 2018 at 9:59 pm

I've known Gerd since before he started Alpine Aviation. I have never met a more environmentally considerate person ever. He operates his charter service with the highest level of concern to the lake, the City, his customers and his own planet. I have spent a very large amount of time at his lake side base over the years and have seen, firsthand, his stewardship of that tiny speck of dirt he wants to use. If there ANYONE who I would believe would be best suited to continue to use that tiny plot of land, It would Gerd and Alpine Aviation. He is simply the best example of a stakeholder looking out for the best interest of the City and every citizen's concerns about the lake.
I would ask the City to grant Gerd and Alpine Aviation the needed variance or permits he seeks to occupy his lease along the lake. You won't regret it. Alpine Aviation does a spectacular job promoting Yukon tourism. He also does a fantastic job supporting and supplying the outfitting industry that is also a huge source of tax revenue. By curtailing Gerd and Alpine Aviation, the City cuts off their nose despite their own face. Alpine Aviation is a huge net contributor to the economy of Whitehorse and the entire Yukon. Why on earth would the City ignore these obvious and beneficial contributions to the economy to make a stand over some sea-cans that pose no threat to the watershed and the drinking supply of the city?
The City needs to look at Alpine Aviation as a gem that fuels the very economy that is sorely needed, not discouraged or penalized.

Up 61 Down 4

Justme on Nov 20, 2018 at 9:53 pm

I think the company has more than proved itself as a steward of the area with 20 years of use without incident.
Like many tourists, I love to see a small business thriving there along with their planes and office space.

Look at the monstrosity of Yukon Energy (a crown corp) down the road and then you look at this small business owner (tax payer) and its obvious they add value and make the lake something other than an industrial site.

Up 54 Down 4

Rene Dionne on Nov 20, 2018 at 9:19 pm

Well here go again, someone with a bee up his ass. They do a lot for the city with their flying business, so why why does a permit make it better. They seem to forget who pays taxes on the lake. I say stay with it.

Up 47 Down 3

Robin Anderson on Nov 20, 2018 at 7:50 pm

Why does the OCP not permit a business from operating in a temporary structure on a road accessible lake, inside city limits, with an industrial complex at one end, that has been used by float planes for decades? What is the issue?

Up 52 Down 6

Another business harassed needlessly on Nov 20, 2018 at 7:30 pm

I remember the cow giving Boreale Mountain biking a hard time about their yurts on city land. No way they could leave them there year round! Everything had to be taken down in the fall, and resurrected in the spring. They were off in the middle of nowhere, causing no harm but it warmed the hearts of bylaw and council to force people to do extra work, for no benefit to anyone.

Great day for Carcross when they packed up and left Whitehorse, but completely abusive to a great member of the City of Whitehorse business community.

Gerd and Janet, find a spot north or south of town, (or in Carcross), where you will be welcomed. Too bad for all the tourists in Whitehorse looking for things to do. The cow is looking to harass businesses like yours, not to work with you.

Up 12 Down 71

oldtimer on Nov 20, 2018 at 6:37 pm

Perhaps it is time to move float plane operations to another location. Fish Lake.
The pollution from the aircraft oils and fuel could have devastating effects on the city drinking water.
If you allow these operators to get to entrenched, you will never get them out of there. This is evident with the structure that Alpine has built now. Why do they need such a structure should be the first question.
Be careful, the next thing you know they will be running a winter ski operation off of the lake, asking for permission to plow a runway.
I say take it down, and don't allow it to go back up. It is not required.

Up 53 Down 3

Doug on Nov 20, 2018 at 6:13 pm

Operator runs a great business there, obviously there's a need, city needs to support the private sector which Schwatka, like many other places, will eventually be developed so changes must come!!!!
Look at Vancouver year round float plane operations in the heart of the city. You develop right it will work, much more positive then always the effort injected of stalling progression.

Up 16 Down 3

Jonah Whale on Nov 20, 2018 at 5:25 pm

I support the seacan at that location. The issue is how to deal with applications from other airlines.
Based upon Tiny House technology it's possible to hold the line and only permit buildings that have wheels and can be removed. Something to think about.

Up 10 Down 44

Josey Wales on Nov 20, 2018 at 5:01 pm

Oh come on, just give him the entire lake already...after all Alpine has been there for twenty years.
Hell put a toll on us lowlifes that may want to do a lakeside loop using his road...all the free money could help improve his private for profit business.
Did you make revenue with fines for last seasons entitlement, naaaaah.
Just used public resources to aid him in doing what he wishes instead?

Good thing we do not take that approach to crime, rather than deter it we aid the fictional perps in how best to circumvent the CCC .
....okaaay guess we do that already too.

How about some appreciation for two decades of use? nope...just classic
entitlement based on expectations.
Would not bother me to have that swank piece of the lake a public area as it should be.
Oh yeah, those twenty years?
Your welcome.

Up 70 Down 10

Matt on Nov 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm

What harm does it do? Nobody needs a bureaucracy just for the sake of it. If there is harm or potential harm...point it out or otherwise leave it alone.

Up 18 Down 79

Wayne on Nov 20, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Alpine is squatting on the site. They've been told before to leave.

Up 27 Down 7

ProScience Greenie on Nov 20, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Alpine should stack the Sea-Cans about 20 high because with CoW the more stories the easier to break the OCP.

Up 74 Down 6

yt on Nov 20, 2018 at 3:27 pm

So, why/how did the sailing school across Schwatka get to make an application on the piece of land their SeaCans are on? Thought there had to be a 30 meter set back?
And what about the land parcels on the North end of Schwatka? Where the government boat launch is and North? How did those parcels come into being and not have to abide by the 30 meter set back?
Seems like the City has set a precedent for others, but not for Alpine?

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