British Columbia

Vandalized Sea to Sky Gondola reopening on Valentine's Day

A new 4.4-kilometre cable delivered from Switzerland was installed last October and 30 new cars are currently being assembled for installation.

Squamish tourist attraction to reopen 6 months after main cable was severed, causing millions in damage

Grounded Sea to Sky Gondola cars, pictured days after RCMP said the cable at the tourist attraction was deliberately cut by a vandal. (CBC)

The Sea to Sky Gondola will reopen on Valentine's Day, just over six months after a vandal cut through the main cable causing millions of dollars in damage.

The Squamish, B.C., tourist attraction took delivery of a new 4.4-kilometre cable from Switzerland in October and 30 new cars are currently being assembled for installation. Nine cars that were not damaged have been certified for re-use.

General Manager Kirby Brown says the Feb. 14 reopening is earlier than anticipated.

"Our industry partners were there every step of the way, from assisting in the clean-up and assessing needs to delivering major components with absolutely no notice," he said. "Our community stood by the gondola and showed us overwhelming support, confidence and love through the last six months, and for that, we are so grateful."

A crew from Switzerland came to Squamish to do the arduous work of splicing the ends of the four-kilometre cable together. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Police have determined the cable was intentionally severed in the early morning of Aug. 10, 2019, bringing 30 gondola cars crashing to the ground and causing millions of dollars in damage. No one was injured.

An investigation by Technical Safety B.C. found that the vandal likely climbed a maintenance ladder on one of the gondola support towers before cutting a critical number of cable strands, causing the whole thing to snap.

No suspects have been arrested and the criminal investigation is ongoing.

The two-kilometre long gondola, located off Highway 99 near the Stawamus Chief, is a major tourist attraction carrying 400,000 visitors annually up the steep mountainside above Howe Sound.

According to Brown, the cutting of the cable forced the immediate layoff of 75 seasonal staff. He estimates the overall cost of the vandalism and repairs to be somewhere between $5 million and $10 million.

The company says lift tickets will be discounted by 50 per cent during the reopening long weekend. 

A Technical Safety B.C. image showing part of the severed gondola cable. (Technical Safety BC)

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