Edmonton

Gondola group eyes Rossdale Power Plant as key stop

The company behind an envisioned gondola above the North Saskatchewan River has released a preliminary sketch of a station it wants to build near the Rossdale Power Plant.

Prairie Sky Gondola Inc. to present feasibility report to city committee in December

Prairie Sky Gondola Inc. says the Rossdale Power Plant would be a key stop in the gondola ride across the North Saskatchewan River. (Prairie Sky Gondola Inc.)

The company behind an envisioned gondola above the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton has released a preliminary sketch of a station it wants to build near the Rossdale Power Plant.

Prairie Sky Gondola Inc. says the power plant stop would be a key feature in the ride — with dining options, shops and a connection to the river valley trails. 

Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson, president and CEO of Prairie Sky Gondola Inc., maintains the gondola would be a unique way to showcase the area's history and character. 

"This station will be the heart and soul of our project," Hansen-Carlson said in a news release Wednesday. 

Prairie Sky says the gondola, linking downtown Edmonton to Old Strathcona, would accommodate nearly 4,000 people an hour. 

The company pitched the project to the city in spring 2018 to a mix of curiosity and criticism — many see the project as a potential boondoggle. 

The proposal was born out of a competition in March 2018 called the Edmonton Project, when Gary and Amber Poliquin pitched the idea and won.  

City councillors have made it clear that no public money should be invested in it.

Coun. Mike Nickel told CBC News on Wednesday he thinks the project is unnecessary.

"If you've heard the public's reaction to the funicular, the bike lanes, a whole bunch of others what I would call just fashionista vanity projects that have gone on in the city, people are done." 

Nickel doubts the company's ability to wade through uncertain economic and financial times.

"At the end of the day, who is going to be stuck with the infrastructure if this company ever goes bankrupt. It's going be us, the taxpayer," Nickel said. 
Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson, president and CEO of Prairie Sky Gondola Inc., said the company has 40 investors backing the project. (Craig Ryan/CBC)

Hansen-Carlson said the company has 40 private and corporate investors, some who currently own "similar assets in other markets."

"I get the question all the time: What if you guys go broke and chuck the keys on the mayor's desk?" Hansen-Carlson said. "It's just not an option."

At a meeting in April, council directed city administration to continue working with the company on a feasibility study for a gondola. 

Prairie Sky said it has been consulting with Tourism Edmonton and the city's transit service. It has also retained Edmonton design company Dialog and Seattle's SCJ Alliance to provide gondola expertise. 

It says EllisDon and Williams Engineering have also been involved.

"The investors in the project are eager to move forward, and so am I," Hansen-Carlson said.

A presentation on the first phase of the project's economic and technical assessment is scheduled for council's urban planning committee meeting on Dec. 3.

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