Edmonton council votes to take closer look at downtown-Old Strathcona gondola
Published Monday, February 3, 2020 12:51PM MST Last Updated Monday, February 3, 2020 3:56PM MST
EDMONTON -- City councillors narrowly voted to further study a proposed gondola that would connect downtown Edmonton and Old Strathcona on Monday.
Prairie Sky Gondola presented a feasibility study to council in January that claimed the gondola would see more than 637,000 customers and three-million trips in its first year of operation alone.
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Council, including Mayor Don Iveson, voted 8-5 in favour of allowing Prairie Sky to complete a more thorough report.
The gondola would ferry passengers from downtown to Whyte Avenue through Rossdale.
The project, estimated to cost between $120-$150 million, would have to meet a set of principles set out by council like integration with transit.
It also won't be allowed to use public money and the city has stipulated that it cannot be on the hook if the business fails.
"I'm still very skeptical about huge pieces of this puzzle, but that's their risk, not ours," said Ward 2 Coun. Bev Esslinger.
Prairie Sky Gondola President Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson has previously said that the project will work even in a worst-case scenario of high construction costs and low ridership.
But some opposed councillors, like Ward 11 Coun. Mike Nickel, think that's overly optimistic.
"I will tell you as a businessman, this is a bad idea," said Nickel. "The business model, I think, is based on dubious ridership numbers."
Ward 4 Coun. Aaron Paquette suggested that because the river valley is of such immense importance to Edmontonians, a referendum be held on the gondola.
Hansen-Carlson admitted that the 8-5 vote was not a "slam drunk," and said Prairie Sky would be upping its game on the next report.
He said he hoped to be back at city hall with a complete study in six months, though he admitted that timeline was hopeful.
If approved, the gondola would take two years to build.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson