Nelson’s Whitewater Freeride Team members Adam Kuch and Lucy Leishman won the North American World Junior Freeski Championships in Big Sky, Mont., earlier this month. The freeride team, which was started over a decade ago, has launched the careers of numerous local world-calibre skiers, and brought a heap of publicity to the mountain, and the region’s tourism sector too. Photo courtesy International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association

Nelson’s Whitewater Freeride Team members Adam Kuch and Lucy Leishman won the North American World Junior Freeski Championships in Big Sky, Mont., earlier this month. The freeride team, which was started over a decade ago, has launched the careers of numerous local world-calibre skiers, and brought a heap of publicity to the mountain, and the region’s tourism sector too. Photo courtesy International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association

BUSINESS BUZZ: McClure blazing for Trail, tourism told to prep for next climate chapter

Darren Davidson writes about all the latest in local business

The Buzz starts out this week with a bittersweet so-long to a fella who knows the in and outs of business management well. And a Queen City-sized business at that.

For the past 11 years City of Nelson deputy chief administrative officer and chief financial officer Colin McClure has watched over the city’s sometimes staggering stack of responsibilities.

The city currently has 180 employees, $56 million in annual revenues, operational expenses of $38 million a year and $250 million in assets to look after for many years ahead — buildings, roads, hydro, fleets of vehicles and equipment — with a replacement value of over half a billion dollars.

In addition to managing those digits and deliverables, the city and its finance team help out with the neighbours’ books too — chipping in for Silverton, Slocan, Salmo and New Denver.

More than a decade after leaving Selkirk College as the school’s director of finance, the always amiable McClure has accepted a job with the City of Trail as their new city manager and chief financial officer.

“I feel really grateful for having worked here,” says McClure. “The city is very entrepreneurial. And residents should be proud of how council and staff have managed over the years.”

Deputy CEO Chris Jury, who’s been with the city for seven years, will step into the position.

McClure meanwhile, is up for the challenge awaiting in Trail. The Home of Champions’ mayor and council are getting back to business after a year-long dust up that required third-party investigations involving the conduct of in-fighting city council members. The investigation cost Trail taxpayers $420,000.

Last summer, Trail’s chief administrative officer David Perehudoff left his position after nearly 30 years of service following an investigation into a code of conduct violation by one of the city’s councillors.

“All councils have disagreements,” says McClure, who’s surely seen some fur fly in the odd Nelson council in-camera donnybrook. “Trail has a passionate council. But they’ve got a lot more in common than in difference.”

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There’s a new “destination studio” slated to open right next to Kaslo’s historic Admiralty House and the SS Moyie. Propel Studios is a state-of-the-art, all-in-one space in which artists can create, record, perform and even stay.

Brooklyn Barge and Tug Services is meanwhile making waves in the Kootenay’s marine services sector.

Based on the Arrow Lakes for the past 30 years, the company has recently acquired Nelson’s Kootenay Barge and Pile Driving Ltd. Brooklyn Barge is a division of Sutherland Group Enterprises.

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The Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce has had some great involvement in a series of sector-specific round tables aimed at pin-pointing current and on-coming challenges throughout the local economy. Over 60 businesses have taken part in case studies on the Food and Beverage sector as well as Retail and Construction/Development. The Chamber will be sharing the case studies next month with various levels of government and advocating for changes that will help take the sting out of a few of the issues. The big problem now across the board — levels of inflation not seen since the early 80s.

Life-long Nelsonite Gabe Tyler was amongst the builders who attended the last Chamber round table, representing his company North Mountain Construction. Over its 15 years, NMC has built residential and commercial properties, including the Kootenay Co-op, Savoy Hotel, the Nelson and District Youth Centre skatepark and the newly re-branded Gerrard Station commercial lease space, formerly the Nelson Cannabis Collective. The company has several BC Housing projects starting in Kaslo, New Denver, and Fruitvale. Tyler knows the construction ropes, having started apprenticing when was just 15.

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The Chamber has launched its graffiti-removal and downtown beautification program for another year. It’s been a big help for local businesses whose properties have been all tagged up. Nelson Rotary used to take on the volunteer task until the Chamber grabbed the roller n’ pan.

“Keeping exterior walls clean all-the-way-around, up and down, shows great community pride and spirit,” says Chamber board member and Baker Street Menswear owner Mike Borch. (Borch has in the past gone out on his own time and covered nasty scrawls up with a splash of paint on whatever businesses needed it.) Call the Chamber if you could use a hand.

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On to freeskiing and free press. Here’s hoping the folks at Whitewater set aside a couple new toques and some free poutine for Nelson’s Lucy Leishman and Adam Kuch.

Earlier this month, the pair of local rippers captured the North American Junior Freeski Championships at Big Sky, Montana. Like a number of world-calibre Whitewater Freeride Team members before them, the success of athletes like Leishman and Kuch provide off-the-chart advertising for the local mountain — and the economic spin-offs from all the folks who now come from around the world to stay and play in town through the winter (and probably summertime too).

Launched over a decade ago by coaches Dano Slater, Peter Velisek, Pete Then and then-ski school boss Brent Maylish, the freeride team has become a David-spankin’-the-goliaths success story that’s put local athletes on podiums across the west, and Nelson’s name on adventure bucket lists around the planet.

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On the climate front, there’s no other sector more concerned about ever-weirdening weather than the tourism industry.

Operators from Kootenay Rockies Tourism recently sat in on a workshop with community resilience expert Ingrid Liepa and Nelson-based climate scientist Mel Reasoner. The take-away: the sector is not well prepared for warmer, wetter forecasts. The advice: Get an emergency plan in place, a disaster resilience plan and be prepared to adapt and engaging with new emerging markets of customers. More info? Click on basionclimatesource.ca — the Columbia Basin’s Climate Source — for details on what’s slated to happen in the years ahead to our communities, economies and businesses.

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The British Columbia Regional Tourism Secretariat (BCRTS) and regions including Kootenay Rockies are aiming to help operators market more effectively. There’s an online workshop slated for April 28 at 10 a.m. If you miss it, there’ll be another in May. You can learn how to interpret market research from data sites including Canadian Travel Patterns, Weekly Tracker, Monthly Visitor Highlights, EQ and Prizm profiles.

That’s it for this month everyone. Next month, we’ll catch up with Ben Glickman and Bitcoin Central — a bitcoin ATM company, Nick Smirnow and his downtown alt-economy fixture Still Eagle, both of which are still soaring after 30 years, and Kelvin Saldern, who’s moved on to new pastures after nearly nine years as the Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Manager for the West Kootenay.