Whitehorse Daily Star

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Gerd Mannsperger

Council’s decision disappoints local flight company

Alpine Aviation owner Gerd Mannsperger says his company is looking for long-term stability – and a decision city council made last Monday evening does nothing to address that.

By Stephanie Waddell on December 17, 2018

Alpine Aviation owner Gerd Mannsperger says his company is looking for long-term stability – and a decision city council made last Monday evening does nothing to address that.

“We’re really disappointed,” Mannsperger said in an interview last Thursday.

Council voted unanimously to uphold a bylaw order that Alpine Aviation remove the two-storey structure it uses at its site on Schwatka Lake through the summer.

While the company wanted to keep the structure, Mannsperger said, it’s getting ready to have it removed, and will respect the city order.

He stressed that the issue around structure – though part of the matter – was not the major focus of the company’s request.

The big disappointment from last Monday’s decision, Mannsperger said, is that it didn’t address the company’s request for a long-term arrangement to use the location years into the future.

The site works very well for tourism, he said.

Many who call Alpine Aviation to book a float plane tour have come across the company while driving by the site on Schwatka Lake, he pointed out.

The customer base, Mannsperger stressed, includes more than customers hiring Alpine Aviation to get them to a remote fishing area and the like.

The company had also asked to use the site for winter storage.

“It’s stability that we’re looking for,” Mannsperger said.

Pilots for the float plane company want to know they have a job to come back to next year, he noted.

Those pilots, he pointed out, have families to provide for, and that job security is very important.

Alpine Aviation, created in 1997, has been operating from the site since that summer, pulling a dock permit for the use of the area.

Along with its own operations, the company has a rescue boat and spill kit on hand for use by others who need it, Mannsperger indicated in an earlier presentation to council.

City staff explained earlier that the Schwatka Lake area plan doesn’t provide for permanency on the lake.

It was 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 that the structure would have to be moved by Oct. 31, staff said.

When it hadn’t been removed by early November, the order was issued – with Alpine Aviation appealing the decision to city council.

In making that appeal, the company also sought the long-term arrangement with the city to secure the site.

Even just a letter or something indicating the company would have the space in future years would have gone a long way to providing security to a company that has been part of the community for years, Mannsperger told the Star.

“That’s really what we were asking for,” he said.

It’s really hard to have a good feeling when it seems like the city is not behind you, he said.

“Let us be part of this community,” he said. “Let us be proud of being here.”

Alpine Aviation is nothing without its staff, and he wants to give those staffers the security they need, Mannsperger said.

Comments (12)

Up 8 Down 0

Incredulous on Jan 2, 2019 at 7:16 am

I will be voting differently next city council election. I’m ashamed and disappointed in the decision. This isn’t the kind of decision MY tax dollars are paying you for. Shame on you, COW.

Up 16 Down 3

Guncache on Dec 20, 2018 at 10:22 am

The abbreviation for City of Whitehorse says it all, COW

Up 5 Down 10

Joe on Dec 19, 2018 at 8:02 pm

Thanks cow, I want a piece of waterfront for my business too? Are there any open spots? I want in.

Up 23 Down 3

Robert C on Dec 18, 2018 at 9:27 pm

So sad...that such a high quality business like Alpine Aviation doesn't have better support from their city council. I've talked friends into trips to the Yukon just from the pictures from my trips with Janet and Gerd and those beautiful planes. I sure hope they can work this out.

Up 26 Down 1

Old timer on Dec 18, 2018 at 4:45 pm

So what has changed. WELL! There has been one huge change.
There is a new kid on the block..new ownership.
I say follow the money and you will come to the source of the decisions.
Old money rules in this town. Old money doesn't like competition.

Up 28 Down 8

Really! on Dec 18, 2018 at 1:15 pm

@ Yeah, me too! Check yourself before you wreck yourself

You do realize it’s extremly difficult to operate FLOAT planes from the highway or downtown, another point you should be aware of is the fact that the lake is a registered water Aerodrome. Every other operator of float planes does have opportunity to have water front access. Everyone has the ability to work and start a business in one of the most highly regulated industries in the country. Even you can take a risk, start an air taxi operation, invest millions of your dollars, develop SOPs get all the appropriate operating certificates employ locals, and contribute to your local economy. But it’s probably easier to make disparaging comments about small businesses.

Up 29 Down 5

FSS on Dec 18, 2018 at 8:39 am

Known Gerd and Janet for years... they are an amazing couple who provide a huge service to the tourism industry. They have made a second home out at Schwatka. I don't understand why this is such an issue. Keep the fight going you two... !

Up 26 Down 4

Resigned Toit on Dec 18, 2018 at 3:29 am

You made it too nice Gerd, you drew the attention of the planners and inspectors. Had you left it like the two ugly Sea-Cans on the other side of the lake you might have been all right.

Up 35 Down 1

BnR on Dec 17, 2018 at 7:10 pm

This is BS.
How come Alpine has to move their SeaCans, but the sailing school and canoe schools across the lake get to keep their SeaCans and associated structures?
This isn't what I voted for last election.

Up 24 Down 2

Rural Resident on Dec 17, 2018 at 5:10 pm

Is there a sea can on the other side of the lake for the sailing club?
This firm seems to have more clients and activity than others operating on the lake. I would have seen the merit and provided a lease for a few years if I was on council.

Meanwhile when staying with the local area plan with this building issue, a city department is going to ignore this very plan. This is what is really an issue with this city, use a plan to say no to a business then ignore it when another group wants an exemption.

Up 19 Down 34

Yeah, me too! on Dec 17, 2018 at 4:52 pm

"The site works very well for tourism" because some of the customers "have come across the company while driving by the site".
So free marketing. Wouldn't all businesses like to have that? Wouldn't the exposure be even greater on the highway that everyone drives? (Even people who fly in have to use the highway to get anywhere.)
Waterfront. Wouldn't we all like to have that... especially if only a km or two from downtown?
The pilots and staff want to know if they have jobs or not? Kind of late to be addressing this critical issue now, isn't it? Why not raise it when given the notice to vacate?
Personally, if development is allowed to occur on Schwatka Lake, I would like to see EVERY single Yukon business or Yukon person be given the same, equal opportunity to have that kind of location, location, location.
Personally, if development is allowed to occur on Schwatka Lake (planned and with equal opportunity given to ALL), I would like it to look nice so as not to detract from the beauty of the area. Two stacked metal containers does not do it for me.
Thank you for voting this down, COW.

Up 65 Down 7

Groucho d'North on Dec 17, 2018 at 3:54 pm

Remember when all the candidates were promising this and that and shared their vision for a more inclusive and robust local economy? What happened to all that? Alpine has played a significant role in building the tourism sector by moving clients to various locations in partnership with local tour operators. City council just threw a wrench into all that work. Government at all levels seem focused on saying NO and explaining why they say NO. I'd much rather see all levels of government work with proponents to find solutions to these policy glitches that hold back growth and responsible development. Any clown can say NO, it takes somebody of real value to find solutions to these situations.

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