Whitehorse Daily Star

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PUBLIC APPEAL MADE – Alpine Air is inviting Yukoners to attend the city’s final inspection at its dock Wednesday and show their support for the business. Inset Gerd Mannsperger

‘We’re being pressured and bullied’: air company

The long-time owners of Alpine Aviation say they were pressured into signing a business permit that will cause them to lose 25 per cent of their business’ capabilities.

By Whitehorse Star on August 26, 2019

The long-time owners of Alpine Aviation say they were pressured into signing a business permit that will cause them to lose 25 per cent of their business’ capabilities.

“(The city) is taking away our dock with heavy-handed permitting; with clauses that are making it almost impossible to operate,” Gerd Mannsperger told the Star this morning. “We’re being pressured and bullied.”

Alpine Aviation operates three docks on Schwatka Lake. Last spring, Mannsperger signed a permit that required he either dismantle or sell one of the docks by Aug. 28, a clause that will be enforced via a city inspection on Wednesday.

“That’s a pressure tactic to make sure we sign the dock away, so they don’t have to take it away,” Mannsperger said.

Mannsperger said he signed the permit under duress in order to keep his business in operation. He is now required to surrender Dock 11, a space that is “crucial” to his business.

It currently hosts three aircraft: two belonging to Alpine and one open space for transient traffic.

Dock 11 is currently utilized by travellers, private entrepreneurs and outfitting companies as a service dock and tie-up space.

“We always kept that open, for the needs of other people,” Mannsperger said. “We’re the only place on the lake that has somebody there all the time to ensure the safety of the aircraft.”

Limited dock space has been a contentious issue at Schwatka Lake for several years.

Mannsperger said that in previous years, he was pressured by the city to bid for space at the north end of the lake, which is owned by the city. It was previously operated by Blacksheep Aviation, and now Alkan Air.

“Alkan Air has a much bigger company than us; how can we bid on that?” Mannsperger asked.

“They bought the base because it’s really important for their operation; I just can’t go and backstab my colleagues.”

Mannsperger said he was advised by the city that “all his problems would go away” if he went for Alkan Air’s newly leased area.

However, the Alkan Air base is a more industrial installation, with a hangar for storing large equipment, and not appropriate for Alpine.

The City of Whitehorse has been working to free up dock space to service the 16 people currently on the wait list for dock space on Schwatka.

In June, the Star reported the estimated wait time for dock space would be six to nine years. If Mannsperger sells Dock 11, it would go to the first person on the wait list, a private operator.

Mannsperger is frustrated, saying the city hasn’t moved forward on the Schwatka Lake area plan since its adoption in 2015. It promised additional float plane infrastructure, including more dock space. The city has been criticized for dragging its feet on the plan in the past several years, though it says it’s working on implementation.

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

On the company’s Facebook page, Alpine Air invited Yukoners to attend the city’s final inspection at the dock on Wednesday morning and show their support for the business.

“The city has been gunning for us, and it’s essentially bullying,” Gerd Mannsperger told the Star this morning.

“What we tell the kids not to do is totally acceptable in politics and in business, it seems.”

Upon requests for comment, the city informed the Star this morning they “do not have anything to share concerning this issue.”

Comments (10)

Up 7 Down 8

David on Aug 28, 2019 at 1:48 pm

Obviously they don't own the space they operate out of on the lake. The lake is also quite small and limited in space for operations such as this. If the area cannot accommodate more dock space and the City keeps leasing Alpine the space they currently have it basically guarantees Alpine won't have any additional competition for their business.
Is this fair to not allow any new companies the opportunity as well? Interesting situation. I have flown with Alpine many times and think they're a great outfit but the question here is not whether Alpine is a good company or not, it's about being fair to everyone. A lot of commenters seem to feel it would be unfair to Alpine if the City took away one of their docks, but if they didn't take away any of their docks and therefore did not provide opportunities to anyone else, how is that fair to the rest of the competition? As a public funded organization the City needs to be fair to everyone. I don't envy whoever has to make this decision at the City and it looks like it will be a lose-lose situation for them.

Up 45 Down 4

FairDealDue on Aug 27, 2019 at 6:14 am

Remember that last winter the City of Whitehorse forced Alpine to remove their 2 office/storage Sea Cans but NOT the two Sea Cans on the opposite side near the dam, and NOT the 3 Sea Can eye-sore at the boat ramp on the other side. That alone clearly indicates bias.

Up 48 Down 1

Shirly Ambrose on Aug 27, 2019 at 12:17 am

SHAME on the 'City' culprits for not building or allowing the building of more docks in proper time frame, so that all this would not be happening. No good reason why there is not enough dock space at the lake for everyone on that waiting list. The city wastes SO much money on garbage ideas and politically correct trends and here they cannot even pull their pants up properly from the last city parades and set up the lake in an accommodating manner for everyone involved.
Aviation is a VERY integral aspect of the Yukon and much of it centered around this city for obvious reasons. If the power trippers at the 'City' fail to attend to this properly...I have no doubt it will come back to bite them later in ways I cannot even imagine. Shame on you clowns at the city who are responsible for this situation.

Up 48 Down 1

Brac on Aug 26, 2019 at 9:35 pm

Alpine aviation has worked hard for many years to earn their success and location on the lake. It’s disgusting that the city is trying to force them out of something they’ve long held and worked for. Hurting business in the process. City council needs to do their jobs and stop this nonsense. Gerd, Janet and the Alpine family have been a great addition to our community for many years and the Shi••y of Whitehorse’s tactics here are just that, shi••y. This used to be a community that looked out for each other, much like Alpine Aviation has for others.

Up 38 Down 1

Frank Miles on Aug 26, 2019 at 8:08 pm

I think the two airlines and private residents who feel they have been bullied by the city should join together and stand up to the city.

It's funny that the city cannot take a map and a vehicle and find a few additional dock spaces. Almost anyone with common sense would have found something that worked years ago without having to do another study and plan and survey.

Simply radical city tactics. The odd thing is that they work for us.

Up 2 Down 20

Janet Sanders on Aug 26, 2019 at 7:04 pm

Hello Janet and Gerd:
The City has been following the social media and newspaper stories generated about the inspection scheduled for Wednesday, August 28. Please be advised that the inspection will be postponed until another date and time. As you are aware, there is very limited parking available at the pull-out – we are concerned about safety being reduced due to an overflow of vehicles parked along Miles Canyon Road.

Up 3 Down 1

Jonathan Colby on Aug 26, 2019 at 5:45 pm

@SheepChaser

Are we sure that's what is meant? Alpine Air is a private operator, no?

Up 37 Down 0

Don Trump on Aug 26, 2019 at 5:43 pm

I think it's very clear city staff are unwilling to accommodate the needs of a longstanding charter business. There are a few other locations that can accommodate float plane docks. This is yet another example of bullying by city staff that seems to get a free pass from council.

Let's have council revisit this situation as well as the difficult position the city has placed Trans North in.
Maybe we need a city ombudsperson committee comprised of taxpayers which reviews bullying complaints from businesses and individuals.

Up 68 Down 5

SheepChaser on Aug 26, 2019 at 4:45 pm

Just do as you're told. Don't complain. You have no rights.
Some rich dude (that probably makes political campaign contributions) needs that parking space.

Seriously now, shouldn't 'private operators' be parking their toys elsewhere and the professionals get the infrastructure they need to succeed?

Up 50 Down 2

SpellcheckIsYourFriend on Aug 26, 2019 at 3:45 pm

‘Pubic appeal made’ . Indeed, sounds like a hairy situation for Alpine .

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