Plus, Canada's new energy minister talks pipelines in B.C. and a bumper crop for B.C. cherries

Busy slopes
Whistler Blackcomb hit a record 1.14 million visitors in the first two months of the ski season, according to a quarterly report from the company. Whistler Blackcomb Holdings, the TSX-listed company that owns three quarters of the province's most popular ski resort. In total, revenues are up 22 per cent over 2014 to $67 million while visitor numbers are up 21 per cent over the same period last year. Looking ahead, Whistler Blackcomb Holdings CEO Dave Brownlie said that the rest of the ski season will be strong, with ski pass sales and room bookings "pacing ahead of the same time last year."

Whistler's success comes as another major ski resort project, Garibaldi at Squamish, took a major step forward in its environmental assessment process, garnering a certificate from the provincial government. Whistler, which views Garibaldi as a competitor, is unenthusiastic about the proposed ski hill, which is about 45 minutes closer to the all important Lower Mainland market.

Pipeline politics
The man in charge of Canada's politically hot energy file was in Vancouver Wednesday to meet and speak with aboriginal leaders at the inaugural First Nations Forum on Energy, hosted by the national Assembly for First Nations. Manitoba Liberal Greg Carr, the new federal minister of natural resources, has been tasked with building consensus on a plethora of politically sensitive energy infrastructure projects—Kinder Morgan, the Energy East pipeline, among them. And key to shepherding those projects: soliciting First Nations consent. In comments prior to the summit, he said the federal government is looking into an interim approach for reviews of major resource projects in which First Nations would have more of a say in the process.

A bumper crop
Some sweet news for the Okanagan's cherry farmers. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the value of cherry exports from B.C. increased 70 per cent in 2015 over 2014, while metric tonnage increased 56 per cent to 13,600 tonnes. And that's thanks to demand in China for sour cherries in particular. In total, exports of cherries to China increased from $9.9 million in 2014 to $24 million last year.