British Columbia

After 2 rounds of sabotage, Sea to Sky Gondola reopens once more

After twice being sabotaged by a cable-cutting vandal, the freshly-repaired Sea to Sky Gondola will reopen again to the public on Friday after months on the ground.

Attraction was shut for 8 months after cable was cut the 2nd time in September

The Sea to Sky Gondola is pictured in Squamish, B.C., on July 21, 2019. The attraction reopens Friday, eight months after the steel gondola cable was severed for the second time. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

After twice being sabotaged by a cable-cutting vandal — or vandals — the freshly-repaired Sea to Sky Gondola will reopen again to the public on Friday after months on the ground.

The tourist attraction in Squamish, B.C., will be up and running with a new steel cable, two dozen replaced cable cars and, perhaps most notably, an extensively updated security system that includes an in-house security team with tech for around-the-clock surveillance. 

"Our security architecture is extraordinary in the lift industry and has evolved after extensive consultation with security experts," read a statement from the gondola company.

"We will not be disclosing all of the details of our security system; however, by design, we will provide a safe experience for everyone."

A car from the Sea to Sky gondola lies crumpled on the ground after the gondola cable was deliberately cut on Sept. 13, 2020. (Squamish RCMP)

The reopening comes eight months after the green gondola cars came crashing down into the mountainside for a second time in September 2020. A vandal, or vandals, had deliberately severed the steel cable, baffling officials and the public.

The gondola had been destroyed for the first time just 13 months earlier. Again, someone had cut the cable in the middle of the night.

Both cases are unresolved.

A $250,000 reward has been offered to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandal or vandals.

Reopening welcomed by tourism sector

The gondola draws roughly 400,000 visitors every year. The 39-car gondola takes passengers up a steep mountain ridge just south of the Stawamus Chief, offering unobstructed views of Howe Sound.

The attraction is also one of the largest employers in town and a significant feature in the $95-million local tourism sector, according to Tourism Squamish. 

"We're pretty excited about having the gondola reopening, for sure," Toran Savjord, vice chair of Tourism Squamish, told CBC's The Early Edition on Friday.

"I think you're going to see a lot more people coming to town, we're going be experiencing people stick around and have an opportunity to experience the activity."

He said local businesses see a boost from gondola traffic, too.

"It's really in the summer when the gondola brings a ton of extra people up in those mid-week days when we're not as busy, that really helps us. We're hopeful for the gondola this time around," said Ben Reeder, marketing manager for Backcountry Brewing.

Repairing the attraction the first time took six months and at least $5 million, according to the company. 

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