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Translink Buzzer Blog

Burnaby Mountain Gondola – Phase Two

Whistler's Peak 2 Peak Gondola

Imagine you’re suspended over Whistler mountain, the hills of Medellín, Colombia, or maybe Interstate 5 in Portland. Now imagine you’re actually above Burnaby Mountain in a gondola!

It could be real: TransLink is currently exploring the viability of a high-capacity gondola linking Burnaby Mountain, including the Simon Fraser University campus, to SkyTrain. Phase One was a pre-consultation phase that involved six small group meetings of stakeholders including students, recreational users, environmental advocates and residents.

Phase Two

We’re hosting public consultations on the business case for the project in May, and we’d love your input! Here’s what’s going on:

May 25, 2011
5 p.m. – 8 p.m. – Cameron Elementary School
9540 Erickson Drive, Burnaby
*Project Presentations: 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

May 26, 2011
1 p.m. – 4 p.m. & 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. – Saywell Hall Atrium,
SFU Burnaby Campus
*Project presentations: 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Portland's Aerial Tram

The third and final phase will take place if the project is given a green light. Make sure to check out the Burnaby Mountain Gondola page to get more information and provide your input until June 30th!


103 Comments

  • By Matt, May 10, 2011 @ 10:38 am

    Back during the RFP phase there were some diagrams with I believe 4 possible routings for the gondola, are those still available somewhere? I dug around a bit and couldn’t find them.

    Thanks.

  • By zack, May 10, 2011 @ 10:52 am

    At first, when I heard this story on Global I couldn’t stop laughing, and thought the whole idea wouldn’t pass due to TransLink’s current budget situation. But after some in-depth analysis on the proposal, I realized this idea would definitely ease off commuter pain for many SFU students, plus it will give those poor buses a break from climbing those punishing hills. It will be also a gazillion times cheaper for those who would want to try out the Burnaby Mountain Gondola (if it happens) than say the Grouse or Whistler Gondola.

  • By Tim Choi, May 10, 2011 @ 10:54 am

    Two concerns come to mind so far – high winds and people with vertigo.
    For the former, the Peak2Peak gondola was built to handle winds of up to 80km/h, but with significantly higher safety limit. High winds aren’t too common here, but if there are, Translink better be able to throw buses into the loop quickly.
    For the latter, perhaps it will be necessary to maintain some sort of bus connection – every 15 min., possibly.

  • By Chris, May 10, 2011 @ 11:27 am

    If it can be done for a similar cost to sending buses up and down the mountain, I think it’s a great idea.

  • By Jarrett, May 10, 2011 @ 11:45 am

    I encourage everyone to steer away from the Portland Aerial Tram as a peer for this thing. Portland’s has just two cars, one climbing as the other descends, for a net frequency of around 10 min as I recall. Would be totally unacceptable for a market as crowded as SFU to Production Way.

  • By Jarrett, May 10, 2011 @ 11:46 am

    To clarify, while I haven’t studied this project, it sounds like it could work well so long as it were a high-frequency model with many cars on the wire.

  • By David M, May 10, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

    I think it’s a great idea. London, England is installing a gondola as a means of crossing the river. It will connect two underground stations, entertainment complexes and high-density development areas. It will be operated by Transport for London, will carry the famous London Transport roundal and will be fully integrated into the transit system.

    So this really makes sense for Burnaby mountain.

  • By Jason, May 10, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

    What tourist attraction could there possibly be on Burnaby Mountain? If people are coming to Vancouver, they’ll go to Grouse or head up to Whistler. B. Mountain is tiny in comparison and the only thing that’s good is the restaurant and a few totem poles. Get more buses to SFU and call it a day. How does Translink have the money to fund this project, what with the potential UBC line and the new fare system implementation?

  • By Alan Robinson, May 10, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

    @Jason

    The idea behind the gondola is to replace the capacity of the bus service with a more reliable and faster gondola for about the same cost as the current bus service. It’s meant to be a transit line, not a tourist trap.

  • By Steve, May 10, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

    Calgary is studying gondola service as well. Thought I would pass along a link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2011/05/02/calgary-gondola-lrt-service.html?ref=rss

    Their system could see cars which hold 6-10 people with frequencies of 10 seconds to be built for $5-10 million per kilometre.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, May 10, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

    Hi Matt: I’ve asked our planning department about the routing possibilities for the gondola, and they tell me that it will be posted on the TransLink gondola page as of May 24.

  • By Jacob, May 10, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

    At just 70 million dollars, the project is a great money saver.
    If it costs 8.5 mill to run one bus service http://mastersplanning.blogspot.com/2010/11/cost-of-bus-service-in-metro-vancouver.html , then the cost will pay off in just 8 years!

  • By peter b, May 10, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

    More transit tram photos from New York City’s Roosevelt Island Tram across the East River.

    http://goo.gl/5TEY5

  • By Joe, May 10, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

    Jacob, that math is rather suspect.Even at 15 hours per day 10 minute headway all day, that works out to 7.15M for one year. From where does the extra 1.35M come from?

  • By Brandon, May 10, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

    Hi Joe, those numbers came from Translink. Here’s a Vancouver Sun article with the same: http://www.vancouversun.com/bucks+behind+Translink+buses/4308955/story.html

  • By Brandon, May 10, 2011 @ 8:08 pm

    My mistake was 15 instead of 18.

  • By Alan, May 10, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

    Why a gondola? Wouldn’t a SkyTrain line up there be more efficient? It would be a lot quicker and carry a lot more people.

    I always envisioned a SkyTrain going up the mountain and then becoming a single track to circle around the mountain.

  • By Reva, May 11, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

    And you’d better not charge SFU students and staff any more than their commute would otherwise cost on the bus, because they’ll feel like they’re being totally ripped off and a lot will go back to driving cars up the mountain.

    Also, there is a lot of residential development happening on Burnaby Mountain right now. If you do decide to put the gondola in, make good and darn sure that it can handle future residential capacity in addition to masses of university-goers.

  • By David Arthur, May 11, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

    Alan: A SkyTrain to the top, even without through routing, would of course be great, but I doubt it could handle the grade. Even the diesel buses struggle as they circle up the side of the mountain, and I understand they’re more vulnerable to the weather than is ideal; I don’t think you could get a train to the top short of building a cog railway.

  • By ???, May 11, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

    It’s 12km round trip from Production Way to SFU. Basically $4 for the average vehicle in fuel consumption for that segment.

    What’s the parking rate on top of Burnaby mountain? With fuel plus parking, there’s lots of wiggle room for Translink to charge a toll to where people riding the gondola would still come out ahead while supporting the gondola.

    It’s win-win!

  • By Alan, May 11, 2011 @ 10:00 pm

    @David Arthur:

    If it followed the path of the road, I don’t see how SkyTrain wouldn’t work. The climb isn’t any steeper than the climb the Millennium Line has to make over Highway 1.

    There will indeed be weather problems for the SkyTrain as service practically dies when it snows. Seems like a rather simple problem to solve. Just tarp the tracks?

  • By voony, May 11, 2011 @ 10:39 pm

    the Portland tram, is an aerial tramway, not a gondola.
    Aerial tramway have their advantage and weakness…

    Eventually, a gondola like the peak to peak can have a pphpd in the tune of 4,000, when a aerial tram will top at 2,000…but an aerial tram is technically much simpler and can go much faster (Vanoise express tram top at 45km.h and as a freqeuncy equivalent to the Canada line… when the peak to peak Gondola does at 27km/h)…then aerial tram cabin come to a complete full stop, when gondola cabin still move slowly (it could be Ok for generally fit population, but could be a problem for people with disabilities), and frequency of tram can be adjusted quite easily (when removing and adding gondolas thought technically possible is usually not done in normal service) smaller number of cabin with large capacity could be preferable to a more cabin of smaller capacity for safety feeling reason…that is aerial tram is not a continuous system like a gondola, where you have virtually still one waiting for you at the terminal

  • By Joe, May 12, 2011 @ 1:06 am

    @David Arthur:
    From what I understand of the SkyTrain, they can practically climb a wall due to the fact their traction, so to speak, is from the magnets in the centre, rather than the wheels.

  • By Jacob, May 12, 2011 @ 10:08 am

    Anyhow, the skytrain to SFU would be a bad investment, at least 600 mill for the 4 km, and ruin the landscape and wildlife of burnaby mountain.
    A much better investment for skytrain would be 104 ave in surrey.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, May 12, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

    @Joe

    From what I recall, SkyTrain barely gets over SkyBridge. I recall reading about how 1 motor was down in a 4 car train, and the train could not get over. The idea is that if 3 cars could not push a 4 car train over that grade, then a 4 car train would not be able to push itself over a steeper grade.

    I think that a technical expert should chime in here.

  • By Bryn, May 12, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

    Sounds like a fantastic idea really. I know the SFU hill puts a lot of wear and tear on the buses, and diesel is only going to get more expensive as time goes on.

    Gondolas like this are proven technology and relatively common around the world, it really makes perfect sense. Reminds me of Expo 86!! Here we are 25 years later and just picking up on the idea…

    I really see no reason for SkyTrain or any other rail-based system. The gondola can basically go straight up rather than running all around the mountain. A Whistler-style gondola with many cars is easy to adapt capacity-wise too. Much like automated rail there’s no significant difference in cost to running 10 cars or 50 cars – the operations staff stay the same.

    Terrific idea!!

  • By Someone, May 12, 2011 @ 8:00 pm

    Maybe construct a motor car/pusher up the hill? Like how railroads do the same thing ;)

  • By Burnaby Mountain Resident, May 18, 2011 @ 8:26 am

    One of the proposed routes is almost directly over my home and the homes of about 2,000 other Burnaby Mountain residents. Trams will pass over us every two minutes from 6 am til after midnight.

    I do not love this idea unless they address the concerns of the residents of this neighbourhood.

  • By YIMBY, May 18, 2011 @ 10:46 am

    @Burnaby Mountain Resident

    From what I understand Translink compensates individuals where the skytrain affects their airspace. So you may stand to benefit financially from the gondola project if it goes over your home. However, what are the concerns of us residents? Safety, privacy, noise, unknown risk?

    Of the four options I’ve seen the most economical, environmentally and socially beneficial is option 2, the direct route that goes from the production skytrain station to the UniverCity town square transit loop. This is the shortest and goes over the least amount of homes. It does affect the forest grove area and it looks to me to be less than 4 buildings, but I can’t believe this is 2000 residents.

    On safety, the 3s gondola system is designed to withstand 80+ km/h winds, and with dual motor backups, three cables, and multiple supports. I do not know of any accident of this type of system, but it could happen so Translink should have an appropriate emergency plan. However, the risk to gondola passengers will be less than traveling on a bus for 7.5 km. Especially in icy weather. Thank goodness there hasn’t been a serious accident yet.

    On noise, the 3s gondola systems are virtually noise free. The only noise originates from the terminal stations and perhaps a squeaky wheel on the tower (however the reason for nightly shutdown is maintenance so I imagine each tower will be inspected nightly). There is no click clack or swing with these systems as is with the Grouse mountain gondola. They are different systems and technologies. There should be no noise from the system even if you live directly under the system. In addition, the placement of the towers (from what I see on the maps) will be far away from the residential homes to further decrease the chance of noise. I’ve spent many hours in the forest grove school with my daughter hearing the busses go by. I welcome any noise reduction and we have to remember this is far different than a sky train going by. A gondola is perfectly suited for mountain communities and will not affect the serenity of the neighbourhood. It’ll enhance it.

    On privacy, the Gondola is above the tree line at 70m+. That’s almost a football field away. This is far greater than the distance the bus travels by my house. People will need to remember to bring binoculars to spy on the neighbourhood. Further, the gondola will pass by so quickly that even if someone got the chance to get a peek at something exciting, it will be gone quickly. I think that there are far greater privacy issues presented by just living in a strata community than a gondola going overhead.

    On other risks, well living is a risk, eating presents risks, walking presents risks. Translink will need to address risks and have plan for unknown risks (like will the windows open and will people litter?) but as another Burnaby Mountain resident, I welcome the project and say YES IN MY BACKYARD. The project will save money in the long term, reduce pollution and noise, increase safety of transit riders, and generally create an icon for the area. I’ll be proud to say I live on Burnaby Mountain and yes it does have a gondola to get to the top. I can’t agree with your broad claim for all of US Burnaby Mountain Residents.

  • By Ryan, May 18, 2011 @ 10:48 am

    There had better be major compensation for the residents who will be living underneath the route. This area is mostly young families whose main asset is their home. This could be devastating to many if property values crater.

  • By Maria, May 18, 2011 @ 11:07 am

    I wonder how much Translnk does compensate however I can’t really imagine anything would cause property values to decrease. Besides there is more to life than just property value and some might even find it appealing to own a home near a mass transit feature. The same was said about skytrain routes in the 1980’s but everywhere they put a skytrain route, values go up.

  • By Lee, May 18, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

    Really? What an invasion of privacy and nature. Imagine this gondola constantly travelling over your home and neigbourhood every few seconds.
    Burnaby mountain does receive regular high winds so I wonder how many times this gondola system will be shut down.
    The existing transportation systm can work, only if they take the time to plan it well.

  • By Burnaby Mountain Resident, May 18, 2011 @ 10:37 pm

    @YIMBY
    Good – I’ll let them know that you’d rather have it go over your house. Thanks, problem solved.

  • By Another Burnaby Mountain Resident, May 18, 2011 @ 11:37 pm

    I don’t want compensation, I want this thing routed to an area that doesn’t involve homes. Imagine having it constantly going over your home for up to 20 hours daily… I am told there have been almost no accidents with them, but imagine your two year old playing in the playground beneath it when one of those “virtually no accidents” happens. Or the community center in the townhouse complex that is full of people (yes it is going to pass over that too).. I lose my privacy, I lose my quite forest environment,I lose my peaceful neighbourhood and I lose my sense of safety. Someone said that nothing will affect property values.. I say that is garbage. Would you buy a home that had a gondola tram passing over it every minute? I bet you wouldn’t. There is another route that would avoid homes, yes it costs more, but I think the truth is that since the townhouse complexes that it is planned to passe over are lower income homes the Translink people think it’s fine. They havent even posted the plans online so that people can see how many families will be affected by this. I cannot believe that anyone would care so little for others that they think building a monstrous structure over top of someone’s home is OK. It just isn’t!

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, May 19, 2011 @ 3:53 am

    @ Another Burnaby Mountain Resident

    Virtually no car accidents happen on roads. Imagine what would happen if your 2 year old were involved that particular accident.

    Virtually no ___ accidents would happen at/on/in ___. Imagine what would happen if your _ year old mom/dad/son/daughter/dog/etc. were involved.

    I personally don’t support or object to the gondola. I’m just saying that imagining the worse will never allow us to move forward.

    Choosing a more expensive option is okay sometimes, and we do have to be considerate, but we also should bear in mind that it’s requests like these that increase the cost of a project.

  • By Another Burnaby Mountain Resident, May 19, 2011 @ 10:29 am

    @Eugene T.S.Wong

    Cars do not tend to fall out of the sky…

    So are you saying that you would be ok with something like this being built over your home? I realize that you say you dont support or not support it but many do. It amazes me how many people support it but would quickly change their minds if it were to run over their home. It is another case of “Yes we want it, but not in my back yard.” Well we just plane dont want it anywhere near us. I would bet that nobody who is on the plannin comittee at Translink lives on the mountain in an area where this thing is going to run. It wont be going over their homes.. How about we all think about those who will be impacted by this beast. The construction alone will be an absolute nightmare!

  • By Resident, May 19, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

    What all the cheerleaders seem to be missing is that the proposed gondola will be running an estimated 20.5 hours per day, over the homes of several hundred people. The idea seems to be largely being driven by the UniverCity developer to get more buyers up the hill, and TransLink seems to be along for the ride (pardon the pun).

    Before there are cries of NIMBYism and self-interest of residents under the proposed line, stop and ask yourself if you would want one of these things over your neighbourhood, or your house. Probably not. References to other gondolas such as Whistler are irrelevant because they are not over residential areas.

    Do provincial and federal land title laws specify if property owners own the air space over their property? If so, then said airspace is potentially for sale and this is a considerable cost that has not been included in what has been published to date. See you on May 25th at Cameron Elementary, where we can discuss how TransLink could better spend budget on much larger problems.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, May 19, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

    @ Another Burnaby Mountain Resident

    And gondolas don’t pass by playgrounds over the speed limit, nor are they usually controlled by drunk people.

    You can’t avoid a technology based on its accident rate.

    If anything, you should be calling for SFU to be brought down from the mountain. What a wasteful place to put a university!

    Also, asking me what I would want if a gondola were proposed for over my home isn’t really a good idea. There is just too much bias. There are many areas of our lives, where we ignore the better options. We just make excuses.

    That being said, those advocating this solution should ask whether or not they would accept a gondola over their homes. It would be interesting to see who they would point to at first, in the event of an accident.

  • By forest grove, May 19, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

    Rather than waiting until May 24 to see the proposed route for the gondola, it appears UniverCity funded a preliminary feasibility study that was prepared by Bryce Tupper, P Eng and submitted in April 2009.

    You can’t seem to locate this on the UniverCity website but if you Google “Proposed Burnaby Mountain Gondola Transit Project Initial – UniverCity” and you will find a downloadable PDF amounting to more than 60 pages. It gives you some idea of what is planned, and reinforces an earlier post that questioned if it was TransLink or the UniverCity development corporation who is pushing this idea, and if their intentions are to help students get to and from class or to make current and future housing easier to sell there.

    Interestingly, the first time the potential impacts on residents under the proposed route are mentioned is a paragraph on Page 28, and the general tone throughout is “it may be a problem but it’s nothing to worry about”. None of the reference projects extolling the virtues of gondola systems run over residential areas.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, May 19, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    There’s lots of good conversation on this subject. I just did an interview with Jeff Busby, TransLink’s Manager of Infrastructure Planning, about the gondola. I’ll be posting it on Tuesday and it will hopefully answer a lot of your questions about the idea should you not be able to make either of the two consultations.

  • By Resident, May 19, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this since my original post this afternoon and it has the slight odour of a done deal. Several years of planning and investment by Translink/UniverCity and now we’re at “community consultation” before deciding if it’s a go for Phase 3.

    If one considers the costs TransLink annually incurs on Expo and Milleniium line fare evasion because there are no turnstiles, and the cost of paying for the army of transit police, which I expect are millions of dollars, would it not make more sense to focus on the broader systemic issues facing TransLink and fix existing problems before expanding a novelty service that impacts a very small portion of overall ridership? What about the Evergreen line? What about surface rail to UBC? What about expanding service in the Valley? It seems they’re either unattainable given current funding or just not sexy enough.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, May 20, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

    Would you all look at that? 2 stories in a Surrey newspaper about drunk driving, and the mourning parents.

    All of us would literally have cows, if we discovered that the gondolas were close enough to bump our fences on a windy day. Meanwhile, we have almost no cries of “NIMBY”, or “Danger!”, when it comes to road expansion.

  • By Resident, May 24, 2011 @ 11:47 am

    The promised information on the proposed gondola route has not been published online as of noon May 24th. This dramatically reduces the amount of time residents will have to study the material before the first community consultation tomorrow at 5:00.

    What’s up?

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, May 24, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

    Resident: I’ll have a blog post with an interview with Jeff Busby, Project Manager and Infrastructure Planning at TransLink, this afternoon with more information on the gondola. I’m told updates will be up on the website later today or tomorrow. Thanks for your patience!

  • By Resident, May 24, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

    It’s interesting to see a more senior TransLink communications person has now been given this file to manage. Too hot in the kitchen?

    The promised information is still not available online.

    Residents of Forest Grove and other Metro citizens have to wonder why the ‘public consultations’ are being held well outside of the neighbourhood, when Forest Grove Elementary is right in the heart of the area that will potentially be most affected. Is this a cynical means of reducing the number of voices in opposition? Perhaps. And the larger question remains, why is Translink still not releasing the plan BEFORE the meeting tomorrow?

    This smells. I hope the Mayor of Burnaby and all Metro citizens are aware TransLink is now shilling for property developers who want some cache for their condos on top of the mountain at UniverCity.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Blog Editor, May 24, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

    Hi again Resident: All the information was updated on the website yesterday afternoon. Here’s where to go – http://www.translink.ca/en/Be-Part-of-the-Plan/Public-Consultation/Burnaby-Mountain-Gondola.aspx

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, May 24, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

    Hi again Resident: All the information was updated on the website this afternoon. Here’s where to go – http://www.translink.ca/en/Be-Part-of-the-Plan/Public-Consultation/Burnaby-Mountain-Gondola.aspx

  • By Resident, May 26, 2011 @ 6:32 am

    Well I’d have to say the first “public consultation” was interesting. Despite it being held outside of the Forest Grove neighbourhood (the one that will be directly, negatively) impacted by the proposed gondola route, a lot of angry people did make the drive to express their opinion.

    Whether or not TransLink listens remains to be seen, as their presentation carefully skirted the larger issues facing Forest Grove and focused solely on the proposed gondola line. The overwhelming opinion among the residents who did attend is that this is being entirely driven by the SFU Community Trust, and the UniverCity developer. Given the events of the past few years (financial market meltdown, HST implementation, etc.) I’d have to say people are tired of being dictated to, and having dissenting opinion suppressed. There’s going to be a good fight on this one: An established community of residents VS TransLink, who is acting on behalf of a property developer that is desperately seeking a novel method of promoting and selling real estate on top of the mountain at the expense of thousands of people down the hill.

    Game on.

  • By Amy, May 26, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

    I strongly oppose to the Gondola building project for the following reasons: As a resident in the area, the noises and pollution resulting from the construction and erection of the Gondola will be very disruptive to our well being, life style, privacy and to the surrounding nature. The SFU area is situated and surrounded by the wonders of nature. The forest in the forest grove area is a habitat to many wild animals, insects, trees and flowers. It is one of the reason why my family and I chose to live in this area. The construction of the Gondola will bring about destructive impact to this area. I understand the convenience it might bring to many SFU students, staff and those who are traveling up the hill. However your commune only happens during certain hours of the day, yet the noise pollution generated by the Gondola will affect the local residents 21 hours a day with gondola cabins passing as frequently as every 3-6 minutes. Also please be mindful of the many children who are living in the area. The children who attend Forest Grove Elementary will be walking and playing directly underneath part of the cable line. Imagine the noises generated by the moving cabins during their school hours. Not to mention the potential danger of accidents that can happen as a result of strong wind or the long over due earthquake. I myself do not wish to see any adult or children get stuck by objects falling from the Gondola cabins or by the Gondola cabin itself. I urge translink to seriously reconsider proceeding with this project.

    Forest grove resident

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, May 26, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

    I think that Burnaby residents need to complain to City Hall to tell them to stop development on the mountain.

  • By YIMBY, May 26, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

    I’d like to thank Translink for the time they took last night to present the project and answer resident questions. I was a bit discourage by the residents that came to the meeting with closed minds. As a resident I hope this doesn’t turn into a battle between which social concerns are more important. I’m discouraged to hear my fellow neighbours excited about a fight and make claims that they speak for all residents when they only speak for themselves. This is not an issue between a developer and residents. Simon Fraser University has been on the mountain far longer than me or my neighbours. They are the most establish resident on the mountain and most of the nature we love is due to SFU’s foresight to protect the mountain. Is it fair to dismiss their concerns so lightly? I think about all the news stories of people stranded because of cancelled bus service. And each winter I wait to hear the story of a bus accident on the mountain. Translink is looking into options to improve service, reduce risk, and provide other benefits such as reduced emissions, reduced noise and reduced cost. From what I gathered at the meeting, there is a positive cost benefit which means lower tax dollars. This project will pay for itself in less than 20 years which is almost unheard of in the world of capital improvement projects. I’m all for saving tax payer money.

    When I first heard of the gondola I was as concerned as many of residents in the area but I encourage residents to do some research before assuming the worse and proposing a conspiracy. Gondola is probably the wrong word for what Translink is proposing as it’s more like a skycar. This is not the creaky, noisy system for carrying skiers but a sophisticated transportation option that is far quieter than buses driving by. The proposed system is the best option for many of the reasons expressed as concerns by fellow residents. The system will run above the tree canopy not requiring a tree line cut like you see with BCHydro or Metro Vancouver right aways. I pick up more trash from neighbours than I would expect from a gondola and I support reducing emissions and fuel cost. Gondolas are counter balanced and only require energy to transport people (not the many tons of steel like a bus or other options require). The environmental impact of a tower on the mountain is far less than a single house but yet we aren’t out fighting to stop building homes or stopping people tearing down old homes to build monstrous multiunit complexes. Plus there are options to build towers in numerous places in non sensitive areas. Besides I don’t think it’s right claim that only I have the right to live on the mountain because I was lucky enough to buy one of the existing homes.

    I’d encourage everyone to review the details and let Translink respond to resident concerns before dismissing an option that can benefit ten’s of thousands of people.

  • By Resident, May 27, 2011 @ 7:21 am

    I think there are two issues at play here. Obviously, the first is the potential impact of a gondola running through/over Forest Grove, and the second is the manner in which the plan is being pushed ahead by TransLink. Give that both sides of the debate have merit, one has to step back and ask how this project has moved so rapidly. It’s being sold as a must-do project, right up to the front of the line among TransLink projects such as the Evergreen Line, the UBC extension, countless bridges, turnstiles on SkyTrain, the UPass mess, and a long list of systemic issues that need to be addressed. Not being given to conspiracy theories, I cannot help but wonder the extent of pressure from UniverCity and its committed property development companies on TransLink to accelerate the plan.

    UniverCity has given itself the mandate to establish a green community in a very challenging environment, one that requires considerably more infrastructure and support than a similar community situated on level ground. I don’t know the specifics on how new development is progressing, but a glance at the MLS website shows that there are currently 54 condos for sale. By comparison, there are 12 listed for sale in Forest Grove. Those numbers indicate that the UniverCity developers are having a hard time either attracting new residents, or retaining people who move in.

    UniverCity and the SFU Community Trust depend on extracting value from the lands within the ring road, to provide additional funding to the university. If the real estate market softens and the developers see a more challenging environment to attract new demand, construction, or retain current residents and small businesses, they need a hook to promote their enterprise. And that’s exactly what the gondola appears to be: A novel method of trying to dispel fears of living on top of a mountain that may be inaccessible a few days a year (certainly never 10 days a year as TransLink is quoting in its promotional material).

    Let’s be honest, it does snow in Metro Vancouver and there are countless locations that experience suspension of transit service due to bad road conditions. But they are established neighbourhoods and they are not part of a commercial enterprise that has a mandate to generate money for a university. We may not like the few days each year the roads are bad or closed, but we manage to struggle on. There are no calls for a gondola up Royal Oak hill, or 6th Street in New Westminster, or any other location in Metro. Why? Because they don’t impact the development and sale of real estate.

    The main point here is that TransLink and UniverCity are being less than honest about the real facts and need for a gondola system. The volume numbers quoted run out something like 25 years, and focus solely on peak load conditions and we all know that every hour of every day is not peak transit time, nor is the university open for months each year. It’s a ghost town three or four months a year.

    No, if you follow the money that TransLink is so blindingly efficient at spending in all the wrong places, you see the motivating force is SFU Community Trust and UniverCity and property developers looking for a cool toy to sell to prospective condo buyers. And it’s a toy that most current and future residents would never use to go shopping, do chores, or head out for leisure.

    I think we should call it the Gordon Harris Line, because it will directly support his objective of building a community on the mountain while giving the appearance of being environmentally friendly. And we can be certain he would never actually use the gondola, because his schedule and business demands dictate that he drives his car to and from work.

  • By Burnaby Mountain Resident, May 27, 2011 @ 9:19 am

    @Resident May 27, 2011, 7:21am
    This is a comment worthy of a ‘Letter to the Editor’ and to Burnaby City Council… keep going! Thank you.

  • By forest grove, May 27, 2011 @ 11:22 am

    Hi

    A story in Burnaby Now about the gondola says an expert in Toronto, Canada believes this would be the most expensive gondola line per kilometer ever and he can’t understand why it would cost so much for taxpayers.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, May 27, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

    @ Resident

    I know that we need to think outside of the box to truly understand development issues, and I think that you hit the nail on the head. Thank you for enlightening us. I honestly think that you have the perfect perspective on it.

  • By Maria, May 28, 2011 @ 9:19 am

    Development is going to go forward on the mountain whether we like it or not and tying the Gondola to development is nothing more than promoting conspiracy theories that isn’t going to persuade Translink to consider real resident concerns.

  • By Resident, May 28, 2011 @ 10:40 am

    Two points to earlier responses:

    At no point was a conspiracy theory being put forward, my opinion is that given the massive problems and challenges facing TransLink, it seems odd that investing in a gondola route that serves a relatively small number of riders (within the context of the region) has progressed so rapidly, and with so little meaningful consultation.

    The suggestion is that TransLink, not known for doing anything quickly, efficiently, or in a cost-effective manner, has rocketed this to the forefront of critical projects in an unusual manner. And that is highly suspicious. At issue is whether or not TransLink is acting in a transparent manner and whether or not this project is being driven by the express needs of property developers. If it is, that explains the haste to implement the project, and that is wrong, if not downright illegal. It is my understanding that TransLink’s mandate is to serve all Metro residents, not Metro developers. Ask potential transit riders in the northeast sector if they’re in favour of a gondola to nowhere, as opposed to the Evergreen Line. Chat with friends in the Valley who have no transit options at all.

    The second point: Development is inevitable but that does not mean that we should just roll our eyes and suck it up and assume that TransLink (or any other agency) is acting in our best interests.

    It is healthy to exercize critical thinking and question such things because if we don’t, we wind up with bad decisions based on indefensible justifications, and whopping great projects that you and I as taxpayers are stuck paying for over 20 or 30 years. And I’m sure you can think of countless projects around Metro that fall into that category.

    My preference is that we don’t have another one to add to that list.

  • By forest grove, May 28, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

    Hi

    Here’s an article from the SFU student paper The Peak last week that shows a side of UniverCity developers, the same one’s that came up with the gondola idea in the first place. It looks like all they care about is making sure their development work on their own terms. I don’t think the gondola is really about the students and bad roads in winter at all.

    http://www.the-peak.ca/article/18374

  • By Maria, May 28, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

    @ Forest grove

    It is always upsetting to see a small family business fail, especially since I work for one. But can you explain how the eviction of a merchant who clearly acknowledges they were 20 months behind on rent, owing more than 50,000, and in default on their contract is related to a gondola? If I was 20 months behind on my mortgage and my bank took my property could I also make the same claim?

  • By Joanne, May 28, 2011 @ 8:00 pm

    From Forest Grove Community

    Some of my comments echo what has already been posted by others here. I another concerned resident from the Forest Grove Community.

    I’ve lived in the Forest Grove area of Burnaby Mountain for nearly 19 years. I was amazed to find such a wonderful escape from the hustle & bustle of the city after only a 40 commute from Vancouver.
    Over the years I have grown to love so many things about this location. Things like the beautiful huge trees surrounding us and the gorgeous skyliine (we can actually star gaze here), the peaceful sounds of the streams that run through our property, the sounds of the wind blowing through the trees, the sense of seclusion with the forest surrounding our homes, the birds and wildlife right in our backyards living right next to a forest.
    I spent some time looking for more information about the SFU Gondola Project and found there have been discussion/plans in the works as far back as 2009. I am angry that the first meeting, where Translink decided to consult the residents here at Pine Ridge Co-op took place less than 2 weeks ago and we are in Phase Two of the Gondola Project!!! There was a meeting held with one or two other complexes near ours but there are many more concerned residents in the Forest Grove area who did not get any meeting or consultation at all.
    I definitely can understand there are some benefits of this project but I do not believe the route most favoured by planners (the one which goes right over the building I live in) is the best one. I believe that there are other options available that will not impact as many residents or the surrounding forest.
    I also have questions about the effects this project will have on soil stability on the side of the mountain or the fragile ecosystems within our forest and streams.
    I do not want to see Gondola cars traveling over top of our building and through the middle of our complex every 40 seconds for approximately 20 hours of the day.
    Why is this project suddenly taking priority over the Evergreen Line, UBC transit extension, improvements to sky train stations, and new bridges.
    I think the main reason for the development of the SFU Gondola Project has nothing to do with the SFU student population. I truly think the main reason and motivation for building the SFU Gondola (as another Forest Grove resident put it) is driven by SFU community Trust and UniverCity & property developers who want to offer some flashy method of tranportation to meet the needs of current condo owners as well prospective condo buyers.
    Translink and Univercity, I think its time for you to be honest with us about the real facts and need for an SFU Gondola.
    I know many other Forest Grove residents feel the same way I do and we will not just sit quietly while Translink and Univercity planners destroy the very reasons why we chose to live here in the first place.

  • By Resident, May 29, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

    Some facts and figures for review from the TransLink website and local papers:

    Fuel Tax
    The province collects $0.12/L on TransLink’s behalf on all fuel sold within Metro Vancouver. This tax generates approximately $265 million a year in revenue. The provincial and federal governments also collect tax on fuel sales.

    Hydro Levy
    TransLink receives a hydro levy of $1.90 per month from each BC Hydro account within the service region. The hydro levy generates approximately $18 million per year in revenue. The levy is collected by BC Hydro on TransLink’s behalf.

    Property Tax
    TransLink receives a portion of the property tax assessed in Metro Vancouver. In 2009, the average assessment value for a residential property is $601,112. TransLink receives approximately $210 for an average residential property. TransLink will receive approximately $260 million in 2009 from property tax.

    Parking Sales Tax
    TransLink currently collects a 7% parking sales tax which is applied to the purchase price of paid off-street parking within TransLink’s service region. This tax raised an estimated $14.9 million, or approximately 1.6% of TransLink’s revenues in 2008/09 fiscal year.

    Car Levy
    A vehicle levy is definitely one of the options TransLink officials say they will have at the ready in case the province and regional mayors agree to use it to raise new revenue for transit expansion. TransLink has previously said a levy averaging $122 per vehicle would raise $150 million a year, but the average hit per vehicle could be more or less depending on how much is raised.

    Here are some TransLink numbers and facts on the Evergreen Line, which once again appears to have slipped in priority:

    • 8,000 new employment opportunities
    • Stimulating community growth and new development
    • Creating compact, livable communities
    • Shorter commutes
    • Direction connection, without transfer, onto the Millennium Line
    • Frequent service (every three minutes during peak periods, service almost 20 hours a day)
    • Better connections between regional centres in Metro Vancouver

    At a public question and answer period May 25, transit users wanted TransLink to tell them when SeaBus and West Coast Express frequency would be increased and when the promised 531 bus route from White Rock to Langley will be started.

    Despite sitting on a amount of cash not spent in previous operating years, CEO Ian Jarvis said more funding is needed to expand, but added the 531 is definitely a priority when extra revenue is secured. Nor is there money yet for rapid transit for UBC and Surrey and a proposed gondola up Burnaby Mountain, although consultations are proceeding.

    The point of quoting all these figures is to show that TransLink has now become a major cash cow in Metro, and funding their operation is a daily fact of life of virtually all Metro residents, whether we want to or not. Their revenue picture grows even larger when one considers the revenue collected from the Golden Ears Bridge (which is suffering from far lower usage than forecast by TransLink), and tolls from the future Port Mann and Patullo Bridges, plus the inevitable increases in taxes and fares in the future.

    Given the massive demand for more cost-effective and efficient public transportation in so many areas around Metro, I ask again how and why the Burnaby Mountain Gondola project has made it to the top of the pile for implementation.

    The projected ridership and net benefits are significantly lower than most, if not all, of the other routes noted above, and the projected build cost places it among the most expensive gondola routes built to date. And those costs most likely don’t include the quiet payoffs to Forest Grove residents whose property value and privacy will be lost. Cost effective? Providing value? Hmmm.

    Can TransLink provide a clear and honest explanation how they have identified this as a major priority in the overall Metro Transit plan?

    Can they explain to Forest Grove residents, and residents across the region why other far more urgent projects with greater benefits have been bumped or delayed while this project has taken on a sense of urgency?

    Given the enormous amount of cash they daily collect from our pockets, TransLink should be held accountable for their actions and decisions. And seeing the size and scope of much higher needs elsewhere across the region it seems the gondola project is being driven by a set of criteria that do not benefit the greater needs of the region. From where I sit, it doesn’t look like that group includes the average citizen.

    How about some accountability and honesty from TransLink, UniverCity, and the City of Burnaby on the gondola line, and who it will really serve?

    Are taxpayers being forced to go on the hook to subsidize the green dream of future condo development at UniverCity? If so, please include me out.

    If UniverCity wants a gondola line to support their vision and commercial success, perhaps they should pay for it themselves and let TransLink focus on their mandate – to serve all of Metro.

  • By Resident, May 30, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

    It’s a shame nobody mentioned the gondola project back in 2010 to the residents who may wind up living under it, but an interesting quote from Mayor Corrigan in the Vancouver Sun:

    “TransLink considers gondola project to SFU

    By Kelly Sinoski 23 Sep 2010 Growth Spurts Vancouver Sun

    Imagine riding a gondola up Burnaby Mountain…

    …But it all comes down to dollars. Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan noted that it would be “spectacular” to ride a tram up the mountain, with all the amazing scenery, and it would be a boon to tourism in his city. But he questions where TransLink will get the money, when the cash-strapped transportation authority is struggling to maintain existing services.

    Corrigan claims TransLink is trying to deflect public scrutiny from the real issue: “that it’s broken,” Corrigan said, by pitching new ideas. “TransLink is becoming the little organization that can’t say no,” the Burnaby mayor said.”

    While I don’t agree with his position on the gondola line, two thumbs up for his characterization of TransLink.

  • By Daryl, May 31, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

    I lived up at UniverCity on the mountain for 4 years (at the beginning of the development) because I thought I was getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city and I liked all the green space. I left there 2 years ago for the peace and quiet of Forest Grove. I left SFU because the top of the mountain, in my opinion has been clearcut for lack of a better word. It’s all about high density living and money for the SFU community trust and the developers. There are practically no trees left at the top and even trees around the new school had to be removed. That area use to be a great natural playground for my kids. I would argue that all their ‘so called green projects and sustainability’ rhetoric is really just a marketing scheme. The gondola is less about the environment and moe about attracting owners and more money. Another reason we left is because there really is no sense of community. Many of the owners bought as an investment and rent their units out to students who are obviously very transient. Thumbs down to SFU and the gondola project.

  • By Resident, June 1, 2011 @ 8:03 am

    From today’s Burnaby Now:

    “Gondola heats up – parties clam up
    By Janaya Fuller-Evans, Burnaby Now June 1, 2011 7:03 AM

    Less than one year after expressing excitement about the proposed gondola project, the Simon Fraser Community Trust is keeping mum on the subject.

    After TransLink issued a request for proposals for a business case on the project last fall, the president and CEO voiced his support for the plan.

    “We’re delighted they’re moving forward with a business case study,” Gordon Harris said last September. “It’s essentially the next step.”

    The trust, which is in charge of overseeing the UniverCity project, presented a preliminary feasibility study to TransLink and promoted initial exploration of the idea. But following intense criticism from residents of Forest Grove, Harris is no longer speaking on the matter.

    Julia Waring, the new communications manager for the trust, initially redirected the NOW to TransLink regarding any questions on Monday.”

    It’s interesting that Gordon Harris and the Trust, the originator and main proponent of the gondola, have gone quiet. That indicates that they are either nervous about the backlash from the surrounding community they seek to ruin to the benefit of their own development, or they have been advised by their legal team to lay low and distance themselves from the project they initiated.

    In all likelihood, probably both are accurate.

    It looks like the supposed path of least resistance through Forest Grove is turning out a bit tougher than they had planned so congratulations to everyone opposed for speaking up to this point. Keep it up and keep it loud, this isn’t over yet.

    Did the SFU Community Trust really think that by having TransLink champion the project, despite so having so many other larger issues to deal with, wasn’t as transparent as glass?

    Ultimately, this seems a very sad commentary on “the way things are done” by people who believe they can get away with anything, and steamroll taxpayers to fund their pet projects. The question remains if anyone in senior levels of local and provincial governments will do anything about it. Shame.

  • By Resident, June 3, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

    A story in today’s Vancouver Sun discloses how UniverCity and TransLink have been subsidizing transit costs for its residents. UniverCity is removing its portion of the costs, and it appears TransLink will continue the program. So now you will be subsiziding the program.

    At one point, the article states:

    “TransLink justifies the move by saying Burnaby Mountain is fairly isolated and the cheap fares have helped to fill otherwise empty buses going up and down the mountain after dropping off and collecting students at Simon Fraser.”

    This clearly shows a reality far different than what TransLink is telling the public about the “massive ridership begging for a faster, more efficient gondola” to get up and down the hill. Isolated area. Empty buses. Paying people to take a bus.

    Really? Assume there will be lots of empty gondola cars too. And it can all be yours for the bargain price of $120 (or probably more) and $3 to $4 million a year in operating costs.

    Your tax dollars at work… for someone else.

    Again.

  • By Mike, June 4, 2011 @ 11:10 am

    Are there any more open houses on this venture? I was out of town for a few days and missed both dates as they were not spaced at all.

    We need several in June.

  • By Mike, June 4, 2011 @ 11:54 am

    This whole idea is either insane, drug induced or both.

    I saw one comment which said SFU students are now filling buses in rush hours resulting in packed buses. Has anyone heard of maybe putting in another bus to help the load. What is Translink’s target half full buses? As well it appears from Translink’s info package that only one bus route (145) would be scaled down but not eliminated with the Gondola. All the other routes (143, 135, 144) would continue at current levels.

    The literature also points to a savings in not having to build a $10 Million bus loop at SFU. One small question here… what the H does SFU need a 10 million dollar bus loop for and it appears by the route that is partially being eliminated by the Gondola that there will always be buses going to SFU …. Gondola or not.

    Buses also have their advantages in that they can drop people off at various stops on the mountain where as the Gondola will drop people off just south of the current bus loop. I guess this means in rain or snow people will have to walk more than they do now to get to their destination if it’s on the other side of the hill. Or will they be adding ANOTHER ROUTE to shuttle people around the campus.

    Translink is continuously complaining about not having enough money yet they continue to come up with designer projects like this which is great if you are just spending taxpayer’s dollars but if Translink spokesmouths like Ken Hardie or Ian Jarvis had to pay for it out of their wallets they would close off any more discussion in a heartbeat and recognize this project for what it is, a waste of taxpayer’s money.

  • By Resident, June 5, 2011 @ 10:39 am

    @Mike

    Welcome to the discussion, your comments are bang-on. There are so many holes in the plan, the logistics, and the economic rationale TransLink should suspend trying to sell the idea right now because very little of it will stand up to scrutiny. Mind you, that hasn’t deterred them in the past. All of their actions underscore the need for some sort of effective oversight (rather than letting them run from idea to idea and blowing even more money on “studies”). Presently it seems we just throw money in their direction and TransLink does as it pleases.

    When citizens are being told endlessly to be self-sufficient financially, it wears very thin very fast when the public institutions that we are forced to fund run do the exact opposite. But without more effective oversight it will not change because there are no negatives for them, they just increase taxes.

  • By Mike, June 5, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

    Keep in mind it’s election year in Burnaby and I am sure the city can quash this nonsense from the start by not issuing any permits for the towers.
    The city and Translink has has their clashes in the past with the city taking control. For example translink never really wanted the Lake City Skytrain station but the city arranged it on their own. Something Translink probably hates to see exemplified by their lack of any feeder buses to that station except for one that was there before the station was built and is a block away.

  • By Resident, June 5, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

    So, I guess Forest Grove should vote as a block for the civic party that has the guts to put a pin in the expensive UniverCity/TransLink balloon.

    We may not have money to fight the developers at their game but we have votes. Politicians just hate it when you don’t vote for them.

    The city has been very quiet about this whole proposal thus far. Maybe it’s time they stated their position.

    Mr. Mayor?

  • By Mike, June 5, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

    I am not sure what the city’s stand on this is. More than likely in an election year it’s whatever gets people less upset as election time is the season that politicians put on their fishnet stockings until the day after election day.

    FG residents should probably put together a well laid out presentation for council expressing their reservations on this pipe dream and with any luck council will get onside to quash this thing.

    Not only will they be doing the residents of the general area a favour if they deep six this thing but they will be doing BC taxpayers a favour as well as it stops Translink from wasting their tax money on a crazy scheme that shouldn’t have had any money wasted on it including the money that has been spent studying it.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, June 6, 2011 @ 7:58 am

    Mike: It’s unfortunate that you couldn’t attend the open houses. However, you can still fill out a feedback form here – http://www.translink.ca/en/Be-Part-of-the-Plan/Public-Consultation/Burnaby-Mountain-Gondola.aspx Thanks for the feedback!

  • By Yuki, June 6, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

    What a bunch of horrible short sighted comments D:

    – Forest Grove residents, NIMBY. I haven’t seen any comments that would justify aborting plans for the gondola. Translink has the option of aligning the gondola for more or less impact, and the more you complain about not wanting it instead of where you don’t want it accomplishes nothing. Construction noise is nothing. Go look at the map: http://gondolaproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Burnaby-Gondola-Information-Boards-Route-Analysis.jpg , there are at least two options that don’t go over Forest Grove.

    – Cost savings SFU to Production Way, removing some of the bus traffic saves money, if it was purely an environmental issue, they could justify running the trolley bus line up the mountain instead, but that’s another NIMBY issue.

    – UniverCity, seems to me it was foolish to develop anything on the endowment lands except for students and facility. Anyone not working or going to school at the university have nobody to blame but themselves for living up there.

    – I think the money for this project should come directly out of the pockets of those who use it (eg the U-Pass) and those who live at the UniverCity.

    – The lack of funding agreements on the Evergreen line is likely to eliminate viability for route #4 on the map. This leaves 1, 2, and 3. Option 2 and 3 go directly over top Forest Grove. Option 1 takes it away from Forest Grove, but needlessly makes it more expensive. I don’t see why they can’t make the SFU end terminate where option 2 and 4 does. They said 5 towers would be needed, so the 3 that go over top the communities could just bend around forest grove to Lake City station. More expensive, but nothing to complain about. It appears the only way to work around Forest Grove is to either route the gondola around it (East or West) or just buy up the properties from people with NIMBY issues, and sell the properties to people who don’t care after it’s built. It would probably be cheaper than re-routing the project.

  • By Mike, June 6, 2011 @ 10:12 pm

    Sorry Yuki but I totally disagree with your thougths.
    My comments have nothing to do with NIMBYism as I don’t live in Forest Grove. My comments have to do with the fact that this is a waste of money for Translink regardless of which option they take 1 2 3 or 4. When you consider all the other projects the public is asking Translink for like the Evergreen Line, Skytrain to Guildford in Surrey, extending Skytrain towards Langley from KG or even extending the Skytrain from VCC Clark westward spending $120 million on a Gondola to SFU is really a waste of money and an irresponsible use of Translink dollars which they regularly squeeze out of the taxpayer. I also question the assertions about traffic and load of buses to SFU as with the recent revelation that people who live in condos at Univercity on Burnaby Mountain pay $30 per month for a pass to anywhere in Greater Vancouver you really have to ask yourself how much this ridership is inflated by this freebie as well as how quickly it will decrease when they have to pay like everyone else. So let me get this straight………….. people throughout the Lower Mainland who are paying anywhere from $81 to $151 per month for a monthly bus pass are essentially subsidizing the residents of Univercity who are paying $30/month for the same benefits you can get from the $151 pass and now Translink wants to build a Gondola for these people …….. something stinks.
    Regarding your thoughts that there will be a cost savings in the Production to SFU bus route. I don’t believe it. There will probably be a bunch of people who are either scared of heights or have some sort of phobia of the Gondola trip which will mean Translink will continue with the 145 route or force those people onto other routes and they will probably have to increase the other route’s frequencies or loads which means the bus traffic to SFU will not be reduced much if at all. From what I can see from the Translink literature none of the bus routes will be eliminated.
    Not sure about your tower comments but it is worth looking at that part of the proposal as well. I don’t think people realize that these hideous structures are going to be up to 230 feet high. That is the equivalent of building a 23 story tower in the neighborhood which I am sure no one wants. I don’t care if these things are painted brown, green or are covered with moss and fauna so they will fit in with the forest no one will be able to hide the fact that they are an abject eyesore in an area that was never meant to have these structures.
    As for your comments about just buying up the properties from people with NIMBY issues and then selling the properties to people who don’t care after it’s built, all I can say is go for it and use your own money. You would be losing your shirt on such a venture just as the taxpayers will be forced to lose their shirts if Translink spends money on this foolish endeavour.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, June 7, 2011 @ 1:12 am

    I noticed that the Burnaby Mountain folks seem to mention the beauty of the area, and they portray themselves as victims, which is pretty much what we all do.

    That being said, I don’t it’s fair to portray yourselves as victims, when you yourselves live on land that was cleared of what might have been pristine forest, just so that you could sprawl out.

    I don’t know the history of the area, so I can’t say anything for sure. Can anybody confirm the history of the area, before the homes were built?

    That being said, clearing out trees does not seem very appealing to me.

  • By Resident, June 7, 2011 @ 7:37 am

    Yuki, thanks for your comments and your categorical dismissal of all the comments on the blog. It’s hard to believe we’ve made it this far without your participation, and how misguided we’ve been.

    As you’ve noted, one of the central issues here is money, it sure isn’t the environment. People who live more than 2 km away don’t care, and won’t care if the proposed gondola goes over Forest Grove, because they don’t live there. At issue is the manner in which the project has been accelerated, and presented to residents as pretty much a done deal while so many larger transit issues go unresolved and unfunded. It is suspicious.

    It appears TransLink intends to use taxpayers to fund a line with limited impact on the regional transit picture, to support the current and future development at UniverCity. And if you read the postings here more thoroughly, that’s the thrust of most arguments, it’s all about accountability and obtaining best value from taxpayer funding.

    Expectations that SFU/UniverCity and actual users would put the cash up to fund the line are ambitious and won’t happen. UniverCity hasn’t the cash, and students wouldn’t use it if they had to pay fares that accurately reflected the real cost.

    A business case cannot be made if taxpayers don’t fund and heavily subsidize the project. And there is no net benefit to taxpayers.

    UniverCity can no longer afford to support the subsidized transit passes for its residents (see the Kelly Sinoski story in last week’s Province). According to Gordon Harris, UniverCity CEO and father of the gondola project (wow, what a coincidence) the plan has run its course and his behaviour modification plan to get people onto transit has been a success. Mind you, if you see how many people daily drive in and out of the existing condos and jockey for inadequate street parking there, that is either blue sky thinking or delusional. Or both. But let’s be generous and humour him, he has a bunch of condos to build and a green agenda to sell and he needs your tax dollars to do it.

    UniverCity’s ability to promote development of the lands on top of the mountain depends to a large degree on taxpayers – you and me – they are not self-funded. There is a unique mindset we are dealing with here, one that sees it as a right to proclaim a new era in green development, while taking millions of dollars in taxpayer funding to achieve what are essentially private objectives: Build UniverCity as a community, and provide SFU with a new, stable source of revenue. It is difficult to argue with folks with that level of arrogance and sense of entitlement, but that’s what we’re trying to do.

    I live in Forest Grove and no, I don’t want a gondola running through it. But I really don’t want to go on the hook to pay for yet another project that, as you have already noted, should be privately funded.

    Having said all that, it seems there are enough backroom connections going on at provincial and civic levels for TransLink (using taxes collected from you and me and everyone else in Metro) to further subsidize the private development of UniverCity, and that is wrong on so many levels.

    In any other jurisdiction in Canada, it would probably qualify as criminal misappropriation of public funds.

  • By forest grove, June 7, 2011 @ 8:16 am

    Did anyone know the chair of TransLink, Nancy Olewiler, teaches at SFU?

  • By Mike, June 7, 2011 @ 9:20 am

    FG I see her bio credentials make her look like a stellar candidate to be on the Translink board:

    From 1990 to 1995 she was managing editor of Canadian Public Policy, and from 1996 to 1998 she served as a member of the Technical Committee on Business Taxation, created by the federal Finance Minister to propose major reforms to business taxation in Canada. The Mayors’ Council first appointed her to TransLink’s Board of Directors in 2008.

    ===============================

    It’s high time that the people running Skytrain are elected by the people. They are responsible for too much taxpayer money to be appointed by other politicians. Sounds like a cozy group.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, June 7, 2011 @ 9:58 am

    Hi All: If you want more information about how TransLink is run you can find it all here – http://www.translink.ca/en/About-TransLink/TransLink-Governance-and-Board.aspx .

  • By Mike, June 7, 2011 @ 10:06 am

    Thanks Robert, it would be interesting to look at the deciding factors used by the Mayors Council in deciding on the current board of directors.

    Not sure if that is online anywhere.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, June 7, 2011 @ 11:17 am

    Hello again everyone: If you haven’t read this blog post – http://buzzer.translink.ca/?cat=58 you may want to since I does answer some of the comments posted. I’m going to pick out some of the comments/questions that Jeff hasn’t answered and get some answers for everyone. This discussion has been great! I’d just like to remind everyone of the participation guidelines and to be considerate with one another in our discussions. Thanks everyone!

  • By Resident, June 8, 2011 @ 7:07 am

    The following information about key individuals connected to the proposed gondola project is posted, without comment or prejudice, for your thorough review and consideration.

    Unless otherwise noted, all information was obtained from the TransLink and SFU Community Trust websites.

    Nancy Olewiler
    2011 TransLink Board Chair

    Ms. Olewiler is the Director of the School of Public Policy in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

    Howard Nemtin
    2011 TransLink Board Member
    Member of the Board, Simon Fraser University Community Trust
    Chair of the Finance Committee, Simon Fraser University Community Trust

    Mr. Nemtin is the president and owner of a real estate development and consulting company with over thirty years experience in British Columbia. His experience includes real estate development consulting to the Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation where he was responsible for real estate strategy, including maximizing the value of land holdings, real estate marketing and implementation of all development projects.

    Gordon Harris
    President and CEO, SFU Community Trust

    A Vancouver-based urban planner and real estate consultant, the head of the SFU Community Trust, originator and and proponent of the $120 million gondola plan linking SkyTrain and SFU, that TransLink is currently studying.

    Burnaby NewsLeader
    Gondola planned for Burnaby Mountain
    February 10, 2009 4:00 PM

    “The proposed gondola route would be from Production Way SkyTrain station near Gagliardi and Lougheed Highway to the transit loop at SFU campus.

    “18 months ago Gordon Harris was watching the news and the proverbial light went on above his head.

    “The Simon Fraser University Community Trust CEO had his interest piqued by a story about the Peak 2 Peak gondola system between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

    “Why couldn’t you do that on Burnaby Mountain,” he asked.

    “He thought it would be a terrific way to relieve the congestion on buses between the Production Way SkyTrain station and SFU’s transit loop beside UniverCity, the development the SFU Trust is in charge of.

    “No one could tell him why not, so the trust commissioned engineer Bryce Tupper, who worked with Whistler owners Intrawest on Peak 2 Peak, to do a feasibility assessment.

    “That study was encouraging enough for him to talk to potential stakeholders such as TransLink. On Monday, the organization released its vision.”

    Toronto Star
    November 7, 2010
    Interview with Gordon Harris

    “He points out that UniverCity has so far returned $26 million to Simon Fraser University coffers, which will increase to $170 million over the next 12 to 15 years as the construction continues.”

    Harry Bloy
    MLA Burnaby Lougheed
    Minister of Social Development and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism

    MLA website
    February 9, 2009
    MLA Bloy Speaks About Planned Burnaby Mountain Gondola in Legislature

    VICTORIA – Harry Bloy, MLA for Burquitlam, rose in the house today to discuss the planned Burnaby Mountain Gondola, which will serve the rapidly growing community of UniverCity on Burnaby Mountain.

    “I want to inform the House of a study that’s just been completed to improve transportation on one of Burnaby’s busiest and rapidly growing communities, UniverCity on Burnaby Mountain,” said Bloy.

    “The Burnaby Mountain Gondola is currently in the initial planning stages, which will include extensive public consultation. It promises to serve UniverCity’s long-term goals of improved transportation and environmental sustainability.

    Mr. Bloy briefed B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon on the gondola plan.

    The Peak
    “One of Bloy’s major accomplishments as MLA was the introduction of the idea of a gondola up to SFU, which he claimed would relieve 50 per cent of bus services.”

    The Peak,
    Mayor Derrick Corrigan

    “Burquitlam MLA member Harry Bloy presented this unique idea to the Legislature on February 9. “The idea has really come from the university; from the SFU Community Trust.” stated Burnaby mayor, Derek Corrigan.”

  • By Mike, June 8, 2011 @ 11:18 am

    Resident.. A lot of these statements are from a time when this was just a rumour with not research or serious thought behind it. We now are at the point where the leather hits the pavement and some serious questions have to be asked. Guys like Bloy and Corrigan have to now start looking at priorities and getting the best bang for the buck for taxpayers. I would ask Bloy (who represented part of Coquitlam before his riding was broken up) what is more important putting $150-$200 million towards a scenic ride up the mountain or getting the Skytrain to Coquitlam Mall moving in the right direction without the continuous delays we have seen up to now.

  • By Resident, June 8, 2011 @ 11:24 am

    Mike,

    Ignore the newspaper stories then.

    Re-read the top portion of the post and have a good look at who works where, their backgrounds, and the positions they currently hold.

  • By Resident, June 10, 2011 @ 6:44 am

    Some interesting stats from TransLink regarding projected ridership of the UBC extension and the Evergreen Line, both of which have been discussed on and off (mostly off) for the past 10 years:

    “TransLink’s proposed Evergreen Line threatens the potential construction of a transit line to UBC, as it serves as a competitor for funds. According to Translink:

    “The Evergreen Line is a new rapid transit line that will connect Coquitlam to Vancouver via Port Moody and Burnaby. The Evergreen Line will be a fast, frequent and convenient SkyTrain service, connecting Coquitlam City Centre through Port Moody to Lougheed Town Centre in approximately 13 minutes. It will connect without transfer to the current SkyTrain network at Lougheed Town Centre Station and will integrate with regional bus and West Coast Express networks. Construction of the Evergreen Line is anticipated to begin in early 2011 and be completed in 4 years.”

    The Evergreen Line anticipates serving roughly 70,000 passengers per day.This number pales in comparison to the expected service of a rapid transit line along the Broadway Corridor, which exceeds 100,000 passengers per day.”

    Of course since that was written it’s all changed. The Canada Line became a priority, and an equitable funding model can’t be settled so both lines, that have the potential ridership of nearly 200,000 people per day sit idle.

    If we’re talking value for money, and creating the greatest economic and environmental benefit for Metro, implementing either of these projects are almost an order of magnitude greater than the gondola project. A project that will eliminate a single bus route, for $120 million (assume more if it gets to the build stage).

    In terms of priorities, why is the gondola project at such an advanced state of planning when it is designed to serve a fraction of what other projects have the potential for?

    The more you dig, the more you realize that it ain’t about the environment, it’s about the money.

  • By Mike, June 10, 2011 @ 9:00 am

    Resident.. There really must be more to this as it doesnt make sense on paper at all.

    Maybe everyone should start following the money as that usually answers questions.

  • By Mike, June 12, 2011 @ 11:51 pm

    Not sure if anyone has seen the Letter to the Editor from SFU’s Gordon Price but it just reeks of elitism liking the Gondola idea because the bus trip up to SFU for him from Production Station is crowded and noisy.
    His opening comment go like this:
    “My office at SFU’s downtown campus is a hundred steps from SkyTrain (I’ve counted). In less than an hour, I can be at the Production Way/University Millennium Line station for a transfer to the diesel bus which takes me up Burnaby Mountain to the main campus. Can you guess which part of the trip I dread? It may be the shortest leg, but the bus is crowded, noisy, polluting and jarring.”
    Sorry Gordon but there are many residents of Forest Grove who dread the trip from their area by bus to Production Station as well and they don’t get paid to take the bus like you do. The Skytrain can be crowded at times as well would Price maybe like to see a business class section on the Skytrain so he can enjoy his trip from his Downtown Office to SFU without the riff raff he has to put up with now.
    Price then talks about freeing up “35,000 hours of bus time”. I am not sure of the math here but even if in some perfect case scenario it is right what he doesn’t seem to realize is that the majority of routes going to the campus would remain at current levels and the current route everyone thinks will be eliminated probably will still be there to offer an alternative to people who don’t want to take the Gondola as well as during several times of the day (I have read this in several Translink pieces).
    What Price fails to realize is the Gondola project is a waste of taxpayers money when considering how many more people would benefit by this money being spent on more worthy projects which would entice more people to ride transit (ie Coquitlam or Guildford area of Surrey). I would venture to say that the SFU Gondola project would essentially be providing current users of the current bus to SFU a sexier ride up but really not attracting any new riders.
    Then Price goes on to say:
    “There are many thousands of transit users on Burnaby Mountain (the SFU routes currently serve 25,000 individual trips per day) and thousands more potential riders who might get service when the gondola frees up buses.”
    I am not sure what he is talking about here but of those 25,000 trips to the mountain as mentioned by several people in their comments most routes would continue Gondola or not and since the Gondola only has one stop on SFU I can see Translink having to put a new route on the mountain to get people to different areas of the hill which make the Gondola even less effective.
    If you are wondering who Price he has connections with Translink and SFU through the years and a short bio of his is here:
    http://www.sfu.ca/city/bioGordon.htm

  • By Jacob, June 13, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

    To all
    I want to make sure you all understand the comparisons of the gondola with other projects.
    Firstly, the cost of the gondola is a fraction compared to other skytrain projects 120 million compared to 1.4 billion. And if you take into account the amount of people per day each of them carry, 70,000 for nevergreen line, and 25,000 for gondola, the gondola is much more bang for your buck.
    Second, Regarding the issues of privacy, on the north end of the lions gate bridge, there is a small community situated right under the bridge on welch street. Though cars pass every 2 seconds, I frequently see kids riding their bikes in that community. Now compare it to the gondola. Yes, I know you were supposed to live in a quiet community, but the gondola’s “pollution” if any, would be very limited.
    Third, During winter season, there are 10 or more days where students are stranded on the mountain due to bad roads. and moreover, the trip times would be improved.
    I think that translink should provide decent compensation for FG residents, but I do support the gondola.

  • By Mike, June 13, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

    Jacob
    What we are saying is that Translink is constantly telling taxpayers they have to fess up because Translink does not have all the funding they need for major projects. Which tells me they don’t exactly have 120 million bucks at their discretion to use for pet projects. I say put them towards projects that have more impact on riders in Metro Vancouver.

    Most of the people riding the gondola will be people who already are taking the bus so there is not addition to new riders. That doesn’t spell bang for the buck for the taxpayer.

  • By Resident, June 14, 2011 @ 7:49 am

    From the Kelly Sinoski story on subsidized transit passes for UniverCity residents (Vancouver Sun, June 3):

    “Gordon Harris, the trust’s president and chief executive officer, said the university trust had provided about $5,000 a month to the pass program, as its “contribution to community building.”

    But he argued the intent of the pass was to build a culture around transit use and now that’s been done, the trust is looking at other ways to invest its money, such as a gondola to ferry students and residents up the mountain.”

    So does Mr. Harris’ comment mean that the cost of the project will be partially underwritten by direct investment by the SFU Community Trust?

    We don’t know, because the Trust is being very quiet on the matter. But if that is the case, it seems the planning and approval process to date has been less than transparent, and we’re not getting the whole story. UniverCity will directly benefit from the gondola that will be for the most part paid for by other people – Metro taxpayers.

    Maybe this is why the gondola project is moving ahead so rapidly, with so little meaningful community input: it’s already been decided for us.

    On another note, I was in a particularly green mood Sunday so I hiked up the mountain to UniverCity for a wander and couldn’t help but note two things: how many trees have been removed, and the massive volume of cars parked along University Crescent.

    It looked like downtown, with people sitting idling in their double-parked cars waiting for others to leave and free up a parking spot. Others were cruising around slowly looking for a spot, while more grumpy-looking visitors or residents had given up and were parking to the northwest and humping it back a few blocks with grocery bags and parcels. It looked more like West 4th on a sunny Saturday than the green community that was embracing the car-free lifestyle we hear about.

    Painting the UniverCity development green, and investing in a culture around transit may sound very nice for marketing and obtaining government grants (or gondolas) but reality paints a different picture. I doubt that the proposed gondola will change any of these people’s minds about their cars and SUVs, and how they get around.

    A gondola?

    No, what UniverCity really seems to need the most is more parking.

  • By Mike, June 14, 2011 @ 9:09 am

    $5000 is a drop in the bucket. If the residents are paying $30 and the all zone pass is $151 that covers just over 40 residents.

    If this is the level of subsidization the Trust is giving the Gondola project I assume they will probably just fund a hotdog stand at the SFU terminus of the Gondola.

  • By Robert Crowe, September 10, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

    The Gondola would be a welcome addition to our community. With an anticipated residential population of over 10,000 it is a good investment in the future. The Arthur Erickson designed campus is a destination site for Vancouver visitors, and an important centre of learning. Great transit will only help grow and improve life on the mountain.

  • By BurnabyMountainResident, September 10, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

    I continue to be horrified by the steamroller nature of this project and the people behind it. At the information session in May at Cameron Elementary School the Translink project co-ordinator compared the neighbourhood under the Portland, Oregon gondola to that of Burnaby Mountain. The Portland Gondola climbs through the city, over I-5 and up to the Portland Hospital at the top of the hill. The apartment buildings under the gondola were built post-gondola construction, so residents there knew what they were getting into. There is no comparison to the loss of quality of life that residents of Burnaby Mountain will bear if this project goes ahead! If it’s ‘Green’ they are crying; turn the buses into Bio-Fuel buses. If it is access in snow they are crying; for the average 3 days a year that classes are affected, is this really a good enough reason for a $120 Million dollar project that will NEVER pay for itself??

  • By Mike, September 11, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

    Sorry Robert but I dont want to see Translink use my tax dollars creating tourist attractions for Vancouver visitors or be responsible for growing the population of SFU and Univercity. For God Sakes! No wonder people are fed up with their actions and attitudes.

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Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » Jeff Busby, manager of project planning, explains the Burnaby Mountain Gondola — May 24, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

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