Workshop aims to find balance for Whitefish visitation

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Visitors to Whitefish Mountain Resort enjoy a lift ride from the Base Lodge to Chair 1 and the Lift Plaza during a summer day.

The Whitefish Sustainable Tourism Management Plan steering committee invites the Whitefish community to participate in a workshop from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, at Whitefish City Hall. Tourism is one important part of a diverse Whitefish economy. While it provides many benefits to Whitefish, there are also real stresses on the community from peak season visitation that creates year-round effects on residents, according to committee chair Lauren Oscilowski.

The committee is developing a plan to find a balance in which tourism can continue to boost the economy while creating a priority for community efforts to sustain and enhance the well-being of residents.

“The committee seeks ideas from a broad spectrum of residents and would like input from the Whitefish community to help us with actionable items to help drive policy for the sustainable path forward,” Oscilowski said.

The purpose of the workshop is to solicit input from community members on potential strategies for the plan. The workshop will include hands-on activities for participants to share their thoughts on what’s working, as well as challenges and action items to address issues related to sustainable tourism. Strategies are being considered to address overcrowding, affordability, transportation, small-town character and environmental concerns. The committee members invite residents, business owners, students and any interested party to attend the workshop. Refreshments will be provided and a drawing will be held at the end of the workshop for those who participate in the activities.

The steering committee was selected by the City Council after applicants applied and interviewed for the volunteer board. Members include Nick Polumbus, Meagan Powell, Lauren Oscilowski, Brian Schott, Craig Workman, Michelle Howke, Mariah Joos, Alan Myers Davis, and Andy Feury. The workshop is being facilitated by Kate McMahon of Applied Communications and Lorraine Roach of the Hingston-Roach Group, who have been contracted by the city to create the plan. Committee advisers include Dylan Boyle, executive director of the Whitefish Convention and Visitor Bureau, and Rhonda Fitzgerald, past chair of the Montana Tourism Advisory Council.

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