Sneak peek at new Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, B.C.
New gondola caused controversy over construction in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park
The new Sea to Sky Gondola near Squamish, B.C., which caused controversy for its location in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, is finally set to open next week.
The new gondola will allow tourists to avoid hiking up the mountain, instead transporting them to a point 850 metres above Howe Sound on a route between Shannon Falls and the Stawamus Chief granite cliffs.
The tourist attraction also includes a café, several hiking and biking trails, an 836-square-metre lodge, viewing platforms and a suspension bridge the length of a football field.
General Manager Jayson Falkner says after 14 months of preparation, they're finally ready.
"We think it's unique in that it's purpose-built for people to go up and find their own adventure in a really unique setting," he said.
Plans for the attraction were launched in 2011, but came under fire from environmentalists, who didn't think the gondola and the new structures should have been built in the heart of a provincial park.
However, residents of Squamish have been watching the development and say they're pleased with the results.
Resident Patrick Franz is among many who have been won over.
"I think seeing where the gondola is now and what's kind of up there, people have really opened up to it," he said.
"Most of the people I know who didn't want anything to do with the gondola now have a season pass."
The gondola will officially open on Friday, May 16, between 11 a.m. PT - 9 p.m. PT, with live entertainment from 11 a.m. PT - 2 p.m. PT.
An adult season pass costs $99 or $249 for a family of four. Individual adult tickets are $34.95, with discounts available for seniors, youth, children and families. All include a round-trip visit to the summit and access to the lodge, bridge, platform and trails.
While that may seen pricey, it's cheaper than the $49.95 Whistler Blackcomb charges during the summer months to ride the Peak to Peak Gondola, and a shorter drive from Vancouver for tourists.
Closer to Vancouver, Grouse Mountain charges $41.95 for adults for a ride up its gondola, but those who hike up the challenging Grouse Grind can buy a ticket down for only $10.