SFU Gondola Update – Ah, the real story emerges – Repost from 2011

It’s the old story in metro Vancouver, Transit is not built to better public transit, it is built for land development. To sell it to very gullible and uninformed politicos you dress up the transit as a gadgetbahnen, all glitzy and nice. The politicians all act if they got their very first electric train set to play with.

From 2011……

It seems there is interesting political connections with SFU and TransLink, with the gondola project. TransLink Board member, Howard Nemtin, President, Nemtin Consultants Ltd., is also a member of the The SFU Community Corporation board. Could it be that the Trust’s real estate development arm, UniverCity will use the gondola as a sales tool for their development on the mountain; of course paid for by the regional taxpayer through TransLink?

Other coincidental connections on the SFU Corporation Board include TransLink Board Chair, Nancy Olewiler, who also is the Director of the School of Public Policy in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Simon Fraser University and a blast from the past, Jane Bird, who is famous for her obfuscation with the Canada Line debacle.

Let us not forget that TransLink subsidizes transit for over 900 Burnaby Mountain residents, with a community transit pass that gives them unlimited access to the regional buses and trains for just $30 a month, a perk that seems only to pertain to SFU and its environs.


It seems like again we have foxes in the hen-house, when it comes to the planning for the SFU gondola project and one wonders if the fix is in for a now $120 million (up $50 million from the original $70 million) gondola to SFU.

Is the fix in for the SFU gondola?


SFU gondola plan raises concerns in Burnaby


By Carlito Pablo, June 16, 2011

The proposed $120-million Burnaby Mountain gondola project poses a dilemma for a group maintaining trails in the environmentally sensitive area.

According to Ron Burton, president of the Burnaby Mountain Biking Association, the construction and operation of a gondola system that would link the Production Way University SkyTrain station to Simon Fraser University could have serious ecological impacts.

They will have to cut and they could cut up Burnaby Mountain in order to put up the gondola and service the towers, Burton, who is also a Burnaby school trustee, told the Straight in a phone interview.

Burton pointed out that the gondola infrastructure would slice through the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area, which includes wetlands, streams, and woods that serve as habitat to various wildlife.

However, Burton noted that the project appears to make some economic and environmental sense.

According to material put out by TransLink, the gondola system could eliminate 35,000 to 55,000 hours of diesel bus operations going up and down Burnaby Mountain. The transportation authority also claims that the project would save up to two million hours of transit and car travel time by 2021.

Our position is a wait-and-see, Burton said, adding that his organization wants to see more details.

For residents of the Forest Grove community on the lower slopes of Burnaby Mountain, the time has come for action.

Resident Christian Rarinca, a spokesperson for the Citizens Opposing the Gondola, will address members of the Metro Vancouver regional planning committee in a meeting on Friday (June 17).

According to Rarinca, the gondola system would cut across the neighbourhood. They propose to have at rush hour a gondola leaving every 40 seconds, leaving from both sides of Production Way and SFU, which gives us an average of 20 seconds and a gondola will go over our heads,  Rarinca told the Straight by phone.  It is really something that not only destroys the character of the neighbourhood but also it has no benefit for us. The gondola doesn’t stop at Forest Grove to take passengers.

COG prepared presentation to the Metro Vancouver planning committee also raises concerns about safety risks. A copy of the paper provided to the Straight by Rarinca states that the construction of towers for the gondola may affect pipelines operated by energy company Kinder Morgan, and this could lead to explosions.

The public has until June 30 to submit comments on the proposed gondola project. TransLink spokesperson Ken Hardie didn’t return calls from the Straight before deadline.


One Response to “SFU Gondola Update – Ah, the real story emerges – Repost from 2011”
  1. Alex T says:

    Is the Community Transit Pass still active? I found https://univercity.ca/sustainability/transportation/ which says the program ended in Dec 31, 2011.

    > 900 Burnaby Mountain residents

    Again, this may be dated. https://univercity.ca/for-residents-2/ says there are “more than 5,000 residents”

    Re costs: the datasheets which have been circulated say that the operating costs of a gondola will be significantly lower than busses which implied that the up-front costs will be saved over a relatively short period of time. Trying to find the details but they’re escaping me at the moment. Is that legit or is it more spin?

    Zwei replies: Anything coming from TransLink must be questioned. As far as I can see there has to be at least 25 people employed to operate the gondola, many more than bus drivers. it also means a specialized maintenance crew must be employed. I just cannot see any cost savings, by replacing buses with an aerial tram. It is a political vanity project, nothing more.

    As an aside, I have asked for gradient profiles of the bus route and as far as I can see, the maximum grade for the road is 6% and I stand to be corrected.