Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

INSPECTION PUT OFF – The city’s planned Aug. 28 inspection of a dock used by Alpine Aviation, whose Schwatka Lake premises are seen above in 2017, has been postponed to an unspecified date.

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

Gerd Mannsperger

City responds to Alpine Aviation’s concerns (Revised)

The City of Whitehorse has responded to allegations that it pressured Alpine Aviation into signing a business permit that required the company surrender one of its three docks on Schwatka Lake.

By Gabrielle Plonka on August 27, 2019

The City of Whitehorse has responded to allegations that it pressured Alpine Aviation into surrendering its dock space on Schwatka Lake with a timeline the company says is “not the whole truth.”

The city said Monday Alpine was required to give up Dock Site 11 because it has not been a permit holder of the site since 2001. Between 2001 and 2016, the permit for Dock 11 was issued to two outfitting companies.

The city said Alpine Aviation took over Dock 11 in 2015 “without informing or seeking permission from the city.”

The city said it responded by making a “concession” to Alpine Aviation in 2016 that allowed it to use Dock 11 temporarily in exchange for providing public parking on the site.

Alpine told the Star Monday it has kept one space open at Dock 11 for transient traffic – including travellers, private entrepreneurs and outfitting companies – as a service dock and tie-up space.

This year, the city is able to provide public plane parking on its own lease site operated by Alkan Air, rendering Alpine’s service on this no longer necessary and freeing up Dock 11 for the next person on the waitlist.

The city updated Alpine’s business permit last March to request the space be ready for the new permit holder on Aug. 28.

This morning, the city clarified that Alpine Aviation is not necessarily required to evacuate the dock.

“The permit condition requires modification to their dock extension or for them to produce a sharing arrangement with next (sic) person to acquire site 11 by Aug. 28,” city communications manager Myles Dolphin told the Star via email.

“If this was complied with, Alpine Aviation could continue using the site till the end of the 2019 permit season.”

According to Alpine Aviation owner Gerd Mannsperger, the city’s timeline is misleading. He added that sharing Dock 11 is what led to the dispute in the first place.

Mannsperger said that one of the outfitters who took over Dock 11, Lone Wolf Outfitters (now Anchor Bar Outfitting), had an agreement with Alpine Aviation to share the dock space. That’s because the outfitting company didn’t own an aircraft.

The agreement led them to join Docks 11 and 12 together, forming the larger dock space that the city is now requesting Alpine modify.

“The main reason was security,” Mannsperger said. “Everybody had to enter from the Alpine Aviation side onto the dock.”

Joining the two docks meant the space could host three aircraft, Mannsperger added. When they were separate, they could only host two.

“It worked out really good for everyone,” Mannsperger said. “Of course, the city was not overly impressed that we did that.”

Shortly afterward, Mannsperger met with Pat Ross, the city’s land and building services manager, and Anchor Bar Outfitting representative Derek Parsons.

It was at this point that Alpine Aviation was given use of Dock 11 in return for providing public dock parking services.

According to Mannsperger, Alpine had no idea the agreement for use of Dock 11 was temporary.

“All of a sudden, they (the city) are reneging on that agreement and pulling Dock 11,” Mannsperger said.

“They put the gun to our head, and said ‘sign it (the new permit) or leave it and do not operate.’”

The city planned for a final inspection of Alpine Aviation’s dock this morning to check that the terms of the new permit were being abided.

However, the inspection was cancelled after Alpine put a call out for support on social media, requesting the public attend the inspection in protest of the city’s treatment.

The city told Mannsperger the inspection had been indefinitely postponed out of fear that public attendance would create a safety hazard, due to limited parking at the pull-out.

The dispute over dock space at Schwatka Lake is long-standing.

Mannsperger said he believes the city’s mismanagement is to blame for the mounting demands for space.

In 2016, the city implemented a new permitting policy that required the “dock holder name, plane registration and insurance (dock and plane) must match.”

The city told the Star this morning that since Anchor Bar Outfitting didn’t own a plane, it was unable to maintain the dock permit and share the space with Alpine Aviation, leading to the new agreement.

“It’s just since they tried to regulate it that it’s become a valuable commodity,” he said.

In the past, Mannsperger explained, dock owners would regularly share dock space with plane operators.

Now, dock owners are afraid to give away their space – knowing it would take several years to secure it again.

The city confirmed Monday that the waitlist for dock space on Schwatka Lake currently has 18 people on it, five of them operating commercial businesses. 

Mannsperger reiterated that he hopes to see the city move forward on the 2015 Schwatka Lake Plan.

“Let’s work together to make this a better place, and move forward on the 2015 plan. That would alleviate all the fighting,” Mannsperger told the Star Monday.

Comments (14)

Up 38 Down 1

Mark Chapman on Aug 29, 2019 at 1:05 pm

There are many other city administration failures like this.
It seems there is usually an agenda behind all the meetings and surveys.
I think the city would prefer no public input because the often ignore it.

Up 31 Down 1

Janet Sanders on Aug 29, 2019 at 12:35 pm

In response to the City of Whitehorse
In 2002 Alpine Aviation gave dock 11 to Lone-wolf Outfitters when they purchased a float plane.

Around 2013- 2014 Lone Wolf outfitters sold the Company to Anchorbar outfitters and the dock went with the sale.
Anchorbar at the time did not own an aircraft and utilized Alpine Aviations services to service their camps.
This required Alpine Aviation to grow its fleet to fill the extra demand and this required more dock-space.

To Allow extra space Alpine Aviation and Anchorbar entered into a agreement to join the 2 docks to encompass both their docks, 11 for Anchorbar and 12 for Alpine Aviation
This made a dock large enough that it could fit 3 Aircraft 2 for Alpine Aviation and 1 for Anchorbar in the event that Anchorbar would purchase a plane.

Anchorbar decided not to purchase an aircraft and continued using Alpine Aviations services.
At that point they thought it only reasonable to give dock 11 back to Alpine Aviation.
An Anchorbar representative Darren Parson and Gerd Mansperger had a meeting with Pat Ross and Erica Beasley to discuss this matter.

It was Pat Ross that came up with a compromise agreement that would work for the City of Whitehorse as well as Alpine Aviation.
Alpine Aviation could hold the Permit on Dock 11 as long as we insured it and used it to provide docking and services to Transient Aircraft.

The Company under contract by the City to provide this service did not do a good job according to Erica Beasley and Pat Ross.
This was a mutually beneficial agreement for all parties.

This was a very well working agreement for Alpine Aviation and the Transient floatplanes coming through.
This also honoured the City's mandate to provide said services as the Operator of the Floatplane Base.
This spring the City of Whitehorse decided not to honour the agreement anymore.

While negotiating this agreement it was never mentioned that this was just temporary.
The Schwatka Lake Policy clearly states that the outgoing dock space holder is first in line to reapply for the following year to hold the same spot each year.
Last year we approached Mayor and Council looking for a reasonable solution regarding our Temporary Office.
It is difficult to not see this move by City Administration as a simple act of retaliation.

We thank the Community for their ongoing support.

Up 30 Down 0

Frank Miles on Aug 29, 2019 at 12:20 pm

With all this new information I remain firm in my support for Alpine Aviation.
Council should review the behaviour of their staff. Throw in the poor decision making as well. It's time to start working with people in a positive manner rather than what has gone on with city management for years.

Up 11 Down 4

Werner Rhein on Aug 29, 2019 at 11:24 am

As far as I can remember when I was operating a commercial boat tour business in the late 80's and the 90's,
the city has NO jurisdiction of navigable waters and 10m above the highwater mark.
It is the Coast Guard who has jurisdiction.

Up 5 Down 1

Josey Wales on Aug 29, 2019 at 8:35 am

Hey yukoner....I too have said such things over the years, and I too may say that a few hundred more times to the ignorant sheep.
Coming from a guy who makes a mess outta grammar, sure is a lot of redundancy in those few short words of yours?

After so many unaccounted decades of civic decay and arrogance from the barn the CoW hides, most of your points are like gravity...a constant, omnipresent attitude. Unless one took a serious hit to the head, had a mom that just could not stop swilling during development of your cells, belong to the clic, or yourself might be a sociopath....those things might go “unnoticed” .

I approach it all like physics, and myself choose to be the opposite force also always omnipresent to rattle their civic cages, keep them outta their self imposed safe spaces and absolutely shame them publicly when appropriate.
I will stop, when they do...hence the cycle of disparaging.
Frankly I wish there were hundreds more that share AND exercise their voice & mind as you (presumably) and I enjoy doing.

All these characters to support your short post, yeah I know...
Please...carry on

Up 14 Down 0

Boyd Campbell on Aug 28, 2019 at 1:46 pm

Politically, there are two options here: one of them is run and hide and other is to make a stand as to what is right and what is wrong. Perhaps a good indicator as to who has aspirations to run for another term or the best one "my stepping stone to territorial politics". Two big business issues on the table here - follow what happens.

Up 16 Down 0

Boyd Campbell on Aug 28, 2019 at 1:24 pm

It would appear that the COW has limited support for their actions. I bet the scramble is on now!!

Up 10 Down 14

Jonathan Colby on Aug 28, 2019 at 1:14 pm

In case you weren't paying attention, these people summoned people to come to the facility during the inspection. What kind of Inspector would feel safe walking into an antagonistic crowd? Give your head a shake, if I was an inspector I would have refused to go.

Up 52 Down 7

Yukoner on Aug 28, 2019 at 11:41 am

I've said it before and I'll say it probably 100x more, the arrogant, overpaid staff of the City of Whitehorse have no idea what they are doing.

Up 35 Down 1

YukonMax on Aug 28, 2019 at 8:26 am

Looks like a free for all situation with the city involved. What a mess. It is a water aerodrome. Heavily used by commercial activities. It needs to be officially designed and regulated. The place needs to be cleaned out and sent to a drawing board so it could serve the purpose it is intended while taking in consideration enjoyment and safety and for the users and the environment.
Look at this as if it was a marina.

Up 42 Down 3

SheepChaser on Aug 28, 2019 at 2:45 am

Postponing the inspection strikes me as an attempt to avoid public scrutiny and accountability. Perhaps an attempt to let the storm pass and then return to their previous behaviour. If the city were truly justified in their actions they would move ahead. Something stinks here.

Up 15 Down 35

Olaf on Aug 27, 2019 at 8:55 pm

There is usually two sides to every story. We are now starting to see a clearer picture - now that the city has responded.
The owners of Alpine seem to think that they own that spot - they ran into problems last fall with their version of how they could leave their structures in place - it is a lease and as such the COW has the right to make and enforce the rules.
It is Alpines duty to be in compliance and to respect the conditions of their lease.
Something that they are clearly in violation of (again).

Operating aircraft off of Schwatka will continue to create conflict as new rules are implemented by Transport Canada (see previous story early this summer) Take some initiative Gerd - move now, may I suggest Marsh Lk, before you are forced out by both Tc and the COW.

Up 36 Down 1

North_of_60 on Aug 27, 2019 at 5:52 pm

The CoW administration could have worked this out reasonably instead of once again looking like incompetent a-holes. Mayor and Council needs to put a short leash on the CoW administration and exercise more control over their ongoing shenanigans.

Up 63 Down 6

Frank Miles on Aug 27, 2019 at 3:13 pm

So, if Alpine is using dock 11 which is tied to dock 12 and they need it why not accommodate them and allow someone to put another dock in the space between dock 11 and the dock north of it.

There is parking available as the City has indicated and the existing docks could be moved a few meters to create more space for the new dock.
Many docks are used by a single aircraft which could be a consideration for the new dock the city wants to initiate.

The city has to answer for their behaviour even if Alpine did not have official ownership of dock 11. Instead of all the bullying by the city and finger pointing by both parties why not work on a solution.

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