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Squamish council supports gondola, but not on Chief

Developers still confident a proposal can work



The proposed Squamish gondola may no longer be going up the Stawamus Chief.

Paul Mathews and Peter Alder went to Squamish Tuesday to present to Squamish council and the public, for the first time, their proposal for a sight-seeing gondola to the top of the granite monolith.

Almost 200 people – climbers, hikers, moms, dads, First Nations members, retirees and children – packed the auditorium at the Brennan Park Sports Centre to listen to what Alder and Mathews were proposing. Many people in attendance wore clothes bought at a Mountain Equipment Co-op, hardly anyone was overweight and a number of them were taking notes. The majority of them also wore red buttons that read "Friends of the Chief".

Media from Vancouver also attended the meeting.

While the gondola proposal has been public knowledge for a couple of months now, under the provincial development process this was the first opportunity for the proponents to make their pitch publicly.

Opponents of the gondola proposal, meanwhile, have organized under the Friends of the Chief banner.

Tuesday’s meeting was not a formal rezoning application, but Squamish council did pass a motion: to support the concept of the gondola, but not on the Stawamus Chief.

An alternative sight for the top terminus of the gondola, somewhere between Shannon Falls and the Chief, is now being considered.

The motion, put forward by Councillor Sonja Lebans, was passed unanimously and greeted with rousing applause.

Despite the result, Alder said he was still positive about starting a "new chapter" in the project.

"At the end of it we were not surprised by the decision, though disappointed, now we just have to re-access the situation," said Alder.

The first step for the developers is to deduce how the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection perceives Squamish council’s motion and to gather some more technical data on the alternative site, which is likely to run "parallel to Shannon Falls".

"Now we have to re-look at where we’re standing with the alternative site because we have not gone over that very thoroughly," said Alder.

"We need to look at the technical side to see if it makes sense and then the other thing is to get a decision from government in regards to the process now."

Alder said the government might allow them to proceed with an amended plan or they might require them to start over again.

"We don’t know if we have to start from grade one because we have to go back to get them to make a decision and after that we can see if it still makes economic sense."

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