Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 21 - 40 of total 1453 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
Mar 26, 2012 - 02:09am PT

Citizens Against Virtually Everything

Is the gondola proposal worse than all the hydro wires we look at every day?
Is it worse than the Ashlu power project and the chronic rash of IPPs afflicting the province?
How about annexing enough of Garibaldi Park to build the Blackcomb Ski Area or building a hut system in the Spearhead?
Then there's that pesky Highway 99.
Clear cuts? Most of the area around the Chief and the entire Squamish Valley has been clear cut at some time.

I'm not suggesting the gondola proposal is the best idea or necessarily a complete disaster. I live in Squamish and have been known to spend some time on the Chief and am not convinced the gondola is the nefarious contrivance some would make it out to be. Let's make sure we're not just choosing convenient targets.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Mar 26, 2012 - 02:23am PT
Let's have a clear eyed understanding about what's on offer. The developers are only interested in the money made through enterprise. That's business but it's also an agenda that doesn't hold any other value as equal.

If the gondola proposal can stand on it's own merits, great.

Grouse Mountain gondola, with municipal bus access and 20 minute drive from a city of 2 million people to it's year round restaurant,amusements and captive Grizzly Bears still completely depends on it's ski operations to make a go of it.

My gut says this thing is like the cure all of buying into a monorail train.
hamish f

Social climber
Mar 26, 2012 - 10:04am PT
I realize all the gov't contracts which come in over budget, and that's "all" of them, bleed the taxpayer for more funds to complete.
If this is a private venture, won't they have to come up with their own monies if they fall short? It'll be their shareholders going to the bank, won't it?

I'm with the Chief here. I think Anders photo really sums it up.
Massive power lines everywhere, gravel pits, cut-banks, endless vehicles doing mach-shnell, planes, trains, choppers, 37 full-size bus loads of tourists at shannon falls daily. I've never seen anyone doing anything in those old cut-blocks up top and I've yet to see any tourists picknicking in that gravel pit...

Just my opinion, that's all.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Mar 26, 2012 - 12:19pm PT
I guess who comes up with money in the event of a short fall depends on the total scope of the project and how much investors are willing or able to risk.

One project in Vancouver comes to mind that started as a private venture and finished as bailed out by government. The 2010 Olympic Village condominiums were covered by the City of Vancouver which took an enormous risk seeing it through after the developer defaulted.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 26, 2012 - 02:00pm PT
Whether the proponents' business plan is economically realistic is an interesting question. No doubt what is presented publicly is rosy, of course - all developers' plans are. Assuming that the predictions are realistic, they can still be derailed by larger economic, resource or geopolitical developments. The upshot, though, is that if the thing fails during or after construction, it'll leave a mess, and the public will pick up the bill for doing what can be done to clean it up. I sure hope the public wouldn't pay to get the thing finished and operating - talk about adding insult to injury.

It seems a marginal location, and and a marginal plan. The gondola at Grouse, established for 50 years, and with a much larger market, is marginal - and they operate year round, with much more extensive activities.

Perry and Hamish are right - the Squamish Valley, and Squamish-Whistler area, is home of some poorly thought out developments. Piecemeal over the last century. Which suggests that maybe it's time to think and plan a bit more, before starting the next one.

And yes, the developers' object is to make money, and only that, if possible through the free or near-free use of public land. Sure, they'll dress up their plan in whatever makes it attractive - "green" operations, access for the disabled, etc etc. But their goal is to make money. All they're presenting at this point is a plan. What they'll actually do if they get started may be another matter.

Bruce also has a good point - the Jumbo resort development was approved by the provincial government last week. Not that it'll be starting any time soon, as no doubt the local First Nation will have them in court PDQ.

"C.A.V.E."? "Moaners"? Sorry, guys - let's keep it polite. I made it very clear I'm not against a gondola per se in the Squamish area, only against one being built in or near the Parks. And I clearly set out my reasons for that. Plus (with help from gf) made what seems a realistic proposal for an alternate, perhaps better, location.
hamish f

Social climber
Mar 26, 2012 - 02:39pm PT
I'm sorry if anyone got offended by my "moaners" remark. That's not my intention at all. These people are my friends and it's perfectly fine not to agree on everything. I've come to the conclusion that many folks down in the city have only heard about this project recently. It is great to see how much everyone cares about this area and what developments take place. I know you can read the Squamish Chief newspaper on line every week and perhaps this would fit in well with time spent on supertopo. This thing has been in the paper for months and months.
Financially speaking, I'm not sure how they figure they'll make money at it; I just didn't really think that was our question to ask. I would never invest a penny in the idea but I love the possibility of opening up some more terrain around here.

Mar 26, 2012 - 02:55pm PT
Okay-guilty-i'm one of those coffee drinking, cbc listening, NYT's reading city slickers who was rousted into posting my concerns about the potential removal of park lands after reading Mighty Hikers' brief. The damm thing is that I'm all for developing integrated recreation, including gondolas, in the Squamish area; it makes sense on a bunch of fronts, but I have serious reservations about pulling a piece of parkland for a development where i just can't see the numbers adding up. Is a set of abandoned towers any worse than power lines, gravel pits, cut blocks etc -nope-but is it desirable on the grounds of "well we've shat in our nest a bunch, so one more dump won't matter" I dunno.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 26, 2012 - 04:31pm PT
We'll probably never know the internal workings of the developers - business and financial plan, whether there are silent partners or other investors, whether they're proxies for someone else, and what they really plan to do in "phase 1", "phase 2", and any other phases they perhaps haven't mentioned. As Bruce says, if the thing is allowed to go ahead, the finances are their problem - except for the reasonable possibility that they'll create a mess. That is, by whatever they do not corresponding with what they say they'll do, for all the usual excuses, and so creating even larger impacts, or the development failing. There's a risk of loss in every investment, but in this one the public would bear the loss as much or more than the developers.

There is the broader question. As I've said, I'm opposed to development in provincial parks, perhaps with rare exceptions. In this case, whatever the exact noise, visual, clearcut and other impacts, the development is plain wrong. What's proposed would apparently require amendment of the Park Act. You'd think that BC Parks' role would be first to defend the parks. That is, to say to would be developers "No, you can't develop in parks. It's not permitted under the law." Then, if they persist, say "Talk to the politicians". And that B.C. Parks would then be tasked with an independent, transparent review and analysis of what is proposed, based on the status quo:

1. Development isn't permitted in parks.

2. Would-be developers have the onus of showing, beyond a reasonable doubt, that what they propose is to the clear benefit of the park(s) in question, and the public. With an independent, properly-resourced review by BC Parks.

3. If the developer can satisfy B.C. Parks on count #2, B.C. Parks running independent public open houses, and conducting on-line surveys, to determine what if any level of public support there is for what's proposed, from whom. All stakeholders should be actively consulted. In this case, you'd think that there'd be extensive information about the proposal on BC Parks' website, and that they would be holding public meetings in Squamish, Vancouver and even Whistler to gauge support.

As BC Parks apparently won't be doing these things, it seems reasonable to conclude that they've been gagged by their political masters, and prevented from performing their proper role under the Park Act. (As may also have happened in 2004.) The government, and perhaps others, may well prefer that this be handled as quietly as possible. As mentioned earlier, an FoI request might be quite revealing as to what's really happened behind the scenes.

Straight outta Squampton
Mar 26, 2012 - 04:32pm PT
Here's a recent update from the "Sea to Sky Gondola" website:

An article in the March 15 edition of the Georgia Straight makes reference to “the proposed removal of parkland” from Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. We have been working very collaboratively with BC Parks for the last year to understand the social and environmental impacts and benefits of this project on the Parks. BC Parks has been advising us on the appropriate process to bring this amenity to Squamish. From the beginning, we have been clear that the Gondola will go through the Park and are now formalizing the applications BC Parks has asked us to complete to allow for the construction of the gondola towers. As outlined in the Georgia Straight article by South Coast regional manager for BC Parks Brandon Schultz, an application was submitted to reclassify a 20 -metre corridor from Class A parkland to a protected area that would allow for the construction of the gondola towers.

BC Parks will maintain managerial control over this area and the Sea to Sky Gondola will continue to be required to meet all of the management goals of the BC Parks and Stawamus Chief Provincial Park in this protected area.

The specific application noted above is part of a comprehensive regulatory approval process required under the BC Parks Assessment Policy and Impact Assessment process. Information on this process is available on the BC Parks website For those interested in viewing details of the current Sea to Sky Gondola application for a Boundary Line Adjustment, it is available by contacting us or via email. It is important to understand that this application is only part of the overall process with BC Parks. Further work and discussions are ongoing.

We have been collaborating extensively with the community of Squamish and specific stakeholders, such as the Climbers Access Society who were instrumental in the creation of the Park, to ensure that the project will bring a wide variety of benefits to locals and visitors alike. We are committed to bringing this project to fruition in accordance with the values of the community and our stakeholders, and are committed to continue this consultative process.

Judging from the BC Parks map available online, the gondola will be cutting across a section of the park which is roughly 1.1km wide. According to their plan drawings, it looks like their will be either two or three towers located within the park boundary. If they stick to the stated 20m wide cut for the path of the cable, given a 550m elevation gain to the park boundary, they will be clearing just shy of 2.5ha of land. (2.46ha) If you convert that to the wider estimates some folks think is more likely (80m) you'd be clearing slightly less than 10ha.

It's my understanding that if the proponents of this project are applying to have a 20m wide swath of land changed to protected area status, they won't be cutting beyond that without severe repercussions from BC Parks. It remains to be seen if they change the width of what they're asking for when the time comes to actually complete that stage of the process.

Food for thought.

Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 26, 2012 - 08:27pm PT
an application was submitted to reclassify a 20-metre corridor from Class A parkland to a protected area that would allow for the construction of the gondola towers

They may attempt to dress it up as they wish, but it's rather oxymoronic to describe a 20+ m clearcut swathe through a park as "protected". Probably much wider than 20 m - surely there are tree people around who can comment on that? If you're building a gondola (or transmission line, or..), what's the minimum width of swathe you cut? Say the towers are (conservatively) 30 m high, with 30 - 40 m trees to either side, and windthrow potential from the new 'edge'?

The developers seem well advised in terms of presentation and marketing. But you can't dress up a sow's ear as a silk purse, no matter how hard you try. 20 m or 80 m? Two, five, or more towers? Slight rerouting? Exactly how visible, from where? Class A park or "protected area"? Details! Important details, but details. It would still be land taken from the Parks, and the trees would still be removed.
hamish f

Social climber
Mar 26, 2012 - 08:54pm PT
Hey Anders, I'm thinking it's pretty rocky ground, and many of the trees up there are small. The nightmare-looking swath you're referring to might not be too bad.

Trad climber
Squamish, BC
Mar 26, 2012 - 09:11pm PT
This sh#t needs to stay out of the park.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 26, 2012 - 10:17pm PT
Here are some images from the website.
photo not found
Missing photo ID#242385
This is where they say the gondola and station will be, in relation to the Chief and Shannon Falls. However carefully you locate the route, a whole bunch of trees are going to come down. If there's any chance of trees falling on the gondola or towers, they'll be removed.

photo not found
Missing photo ID#242386
And a profile view. Pretty hard to miss it - although they might have used a more realistic colour to show the line, the towers and tree removal don't seem to be shown, plus the bottom is blocked.

There are more photos at Those depicting the gondola and its impacts may well understate matters. Overall, though, it's clear that the thing will be quite visible from many places. Again, in a sense a detail - the issue is whether it should be there at all, not whether it can be better designed and built.

Contact information for the developer:

Sea to Sky Gondola Corporation
201-1365 Pemberton Ave,
PO Box 1850
Squamish BC
V8B 0B3

For clarity, at some point the company behind the proposal became Sea to Sky Gondola Corp. It seems likely that the new company is related to Ground Effects, as the individuals involved seem to be the same. Earlier references to Ground Effects Developments Inc. should be taken to read Sea to Sky Gondola Corp., if it is material. The address for Sea to Sky is that of a law firm.

If you're writing letters, etc, refer to Sea to Sky Gondola Corp. The name of the company doesn't really matter - what it's proposing does. But best to be clear.

Mar 27, 2012 - 01:48am PT

I think goat ridge/brittania would be cool, the mtn biking season would be longer than Whistler so there would be traffic on low visibility days (common), it could make $$.......for some of the year. If it was for sightseeing only- near the chief, there will be probably be a lot of days where people won't want to spend their $$ to go up into the clouds. People like that downhill biking around here & if there was a cheaper option than Whistler i'm sure a lot of visitors would find more value to the Squamish area, in Whistler there are entire families that are on day trips or on downhill bike vacations in summer just like they are on ski vacations in the winter, July & August are now some of the busiest months for the Whistler businesses. If it has to go thru the park then the gondola base should start downtown at the undeveloped waterfront! Bring some traffic into the local economy. Otherwise i don't see much benefit that the Squamish area & residents will receive from the current plan. I actually don't see much benefit for the developers either. I guess all we can do here is speculate, it seems like more information is still needed & a lot of work will probably have to be done to make an alternative like the Goat ridge proposal- even if sanctioned here- realistic.

Thanks for the links & numbers in the opening post, as well as the information & points of view from everyone. A lot of info here was recent to me & i have been trying to follow the development as far as what's been in the local media.

Premier Christy Clark: or (604) 775-1003

Can you really just call the premier??!!

Yep, vague resemblance to the monorail.

hamish f

Social climber
Mar 27, 2012 - 10:38am PT
Sorry guys but it looks great to me. Looks like about 4-6 hrs. of hiking that can be avoided with a seasons pass to the tram.
If I could ride up that capsule, with my bike hanging off it, and ride around up there for awhile before heading over to join a trail which lands you back down in Britannia, I'd feel pretty fortunate.
I'm not sure "stealing land from the park" is the best wording. It's more like an easement.
I know MH will be up there on the west facing deck, beer in hand, looking through the telescope to see if anyones on penny lane.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 27, 2012 - 11:59am PT
Should it be built at the proposed location, I would as a matter of principle never use it.

No one has suggested that the land would be "stolen". However it's presented, the land would be permanently taken from the parks for other uses. You can say it's an "easement", or a "rezoning", but the reality is that a swathe of land would be cut from the parks.

The number for the premier is from the government's website. Somehow I don't think that Ms. Clark answers it.

Sport climber
San Diego, CA
Mar 27, 2012 - 12:19pm PT
Other than maybe some forest stands near the base and in the subalpine, Isn't it all second growth shite up there? What's the big deal? Let them build the damn thing.

Why does it seem like British Columbians stand in the way of EVERY proposed development?

Mar 27, 2012 - 12:47pm PT
Yeah, like cloudraker says -you can't stop progress :/
The issue I have is not the damm gondola, the inevitable development at the base etc etc but the principle of taking land out of CLASS A parks -this has and will be a dangerous precedent; we need to think carefully about this as a society. If that means some uneconomic proposal to transport me and my bike up the hill never happens, well thats cool if it preserves the sacrosanct designation of class A parks.

Mar 27, 2012 - 12:48pm PT
Hey MH
While we're talking principles -let me loan you a map and compass so you can travel overland rather than use the 1% hiway, opps i mean hiway 99
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 27, 2012 - 01:16pm PT
Well, it doesn't seem that anyone here is opposed to every development. Many are opposed to a gondola within provincial parks, some less so. No one has said that they're opposed to a gondola in a better location - Goat Ridge, or perhaps elsewhere in the Squamish area.

Had the gravel pit/land been properly protected in the first place, this wouldn't even be a subject for discussion. All those who united against the 2004 proposal wanted the possibility of inappropriate development there off the table, permanently, and money was found to buy the gravel pit to that end. Indeed, recreation and conservation interests in effect paid so that the land couldn't be developed.

With regard to a Goat Ridge location, the proponents and supporters may come up with one or more of the following responses/excuses, without necessarily doing a genuine examination of that option:

1. It's not in the District of Squamish proper, and therefore the District wouldn't directly benefit from taxes on it.
2. Most of the workers would probably live in Squamish, and so have a little farther to go to work.
3. The needed land isn't available at the base, for whatever reason. Although the area has been largely dormant for decades.
4. There's no suitable base location in Britannia - size, access, other developments, whatever.
5. There's no location along the highway north from Murrin Park that would work, due to topography, intervening power lines, whatever.
6. The developer would have to start again - or perhaps more accurately, start by doing what it ought to have done in the first place.
7. A Britannia - Goat Ridge route wouldn't work, for some technical reason. It may be somewhat longer. The top area is fairly close to and possibly could be at the far end of the overgrown logging roads in upper Shannon Creek - one fork went almost to the ridge.

The underlying motives, though, may be simpler:

1. We, and perhaps our friends in government, have made up our minds, and don't want to bother considering other options, even if they might be better.
2. We've already spent money developing our proposal, and acquiring the land. Not our problem.
3. Whether or not they admit it, they want as high a profile and as visible an operation as they can get, in the middle of as much other activity as possible.

We may never know exactly what happened, when. But it seems quite likely that the developers right from the start wanted a location in the middle of the Parks, and have been focused on that only. And as mentioned, the issue is whether there should be development in provincial parks generally, and those Parks in particular, especially given the history. It appears that a Goat Ridge gondola is a viable alternative - but as with the details of what might be built, how and where, that's secondary. Sure, if the public and governments are dumb enough to let the proposal go ahead, then it may be time to talk about the hows, whys and wherefores. That's not the question. The question is whether it should be allowed at all.
Messages 21 - 40 of total 1453 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews