Calgary

Canmore gondola proposal elevates tempers

Owners of the Silvertip Resort in Canmore, Alta., are pitching a billion-dollar idea to build a gondola to the tea house on top of Mount Lady MacDonald — as well as a 200,000- to 300,000-square-foot conference centre and casino and a 1,300-room hotel. But some residents don't think it's a good one.

$1B project includes conference centre, casino and gondola to tea house on Mount Lady MacDonald

Rendering of a proposed gondola to the tea house on top of Mount Lady MacDonald. (Stone Creek Resorts Inc.)

Owners of the Silvertip Resort in Canmore, Alta., have a billion-dollar idea to build a gondola to the tea house on top of Mount Lady MacDonald, but some residents in Canmore don't think it's a good one.

The proposed $1-billion project also includes a 200,000- to 300,000-square-foot conference centre and casino, along with a 1,300-room hotel.

Silvertip Resort CEO Guy Turcotte told The Calgary Eyeopener earlier this week if built, it will be one of the largest conference centres in the country.

"It would be two gondolas. One would start by the Trans-Canada Highway, off the Palliser Trail and that happens to also be where we've got land zoning for 850 employee housing units," he said.

"Our employees could take the gondola to the mid-station, which is where the large scale development would be, and from there, the gondola would go up about two kilometres to the old Mount Lady MacDonald tea house that was built in the late '80s and never really got off the ground."

At an open house in Canmore on Sunday, some residents said they have environmental concerns about the gondola, while others spoke out against the casino aspect — saying it exploits addictions and would create the wrong atmosphere.

Canmore resident Tracey Henderson says she has concerns about a proposed $1 billion development which would include a gondola and conference centre. (Kate Adach/CBC)

"The sentiment I see here is, development is happening in Canmore and it's not the development that Canmore people want," said Tracey Henderson, who has lived in the area for 20 years.

"We're losing control of the town that brought us all here and the town we all love. And Canmore people want to have a bigger say in what's happening." 

Turcotte said the gondola would allow more people to access the area along with growing the local economy.

"Most people cannot hike the mountain," he said. "This provides an upper mountain experience for everyone, including someone who is even in a wheelchair.

"Gondolas tend to be a pretty popular activity and a pretty ... sustainable activity, because they don't have a large footprint, they don't take a lot of energy to operate and they tend to bring quite a few people."

Turcotte already has approval for the conference centre, but town council and the province have yet to approve the casino and gondola portions of the project. An environmental impact assessment has also yet to be done.


With files from The Calgary Eyeopener

With files from Kate Adach

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