British Columbia

SFU aerial gondola proposal moves forward

Metro Vancouver's transit authority has issued a request for proposals to build an aerial gondola system to move people up Burnaby Mountain to Simon Fraser University.

'It's worth looking at'

TransLink has taken another step toward the construction an aerial gondola system to move people up Burnaby Mountain to Simon Fraser University.

The proposed gondola would connect the Production Way SkyTrain station on Lougheed Highway with the SFU campus, about 2.5 kilometres up the mountain.

The Lower Mainland transit authority issued an official request for proposals Monday, according to its website.

"The concept would use the technology that's currently employed in the Peak 2 Peak Gondola at Whistler," said TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie.

Peak 2 Peak is a 4.4-kilometre gondola system that connects the peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

The SFU Community Trust had a gondola feasibility study drawn up last year, which projected the line could move between 2,000 and 3,000 people per hour.  

There are many potential benefits to the idea, said trust CEO Gordon Harris.

"[It would] reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Harris said. "It would provide quicker service and, certainly during the winter season, a more reliable service."

$70M projection

The project — with an estimated cost of $70 million — could be economical in the long run, said Hardie.

"We run an awful lot of buses up and down that hill. Those buses are subject to a lot of wear and tear because it's a very steep hill," he said. "If there is another way, a high-capacity way to move people up and down the mountain, it's worth looking at."

The feasibility study also points to potential problems. The gondolas might pass over several townhouse developments, raising questions about noise, privacy and property values.

Proposals for building the system are due by Oct. 12.

With files from the CBC's Ben Hadaway