Gondola in Edmonton? Project now backed by city administration
EDMONTON -- Edmonton could soon be one big step closer to connecting two city hubs across the river valley with a new gondola.
It's been just over one year since city council asked administration to work with Edmonton-based company Prairie Sky Gondola to determine the feasibility of building a gondola across the North Saskatchewan River.
Next Tuesday, the gondola company will present its work to city councillors and try to back up its claim that the project would not only be good for Edmonton, but also profitable.
A new report from city administration recommends council's approval of the project.
"Over the past year we've really invested in the development of our business case and we really invested in negotiating the master agreement framework," Prairie Sky Gondola president and CEO Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson told CTV News Edmonton.
The motion passed by council last February asked that the preparation work for the proposed gondola be guided by six foundational principles:
- No public funding requested and all financial risk borne by proponents.
- Open books to the city for validation on a confidential and proprietary basis.
- A robust engagement plan for community and Indigenous stakeholders.
- Mutually beneficial integration with public transit.
- Minimized ecological footprint.
- Providing surety, including monetary security, with respect to service continuity or demobilization.
"We worked really closely with (city) administration," said Hansen-Carlson. "They held us accountable. It was not an easy year, in terms of investing in consultants and the analysis necessary to really bolster up some of the positions we took."
Hansen-Carlson says construction of the proposed privately-funded gondola would cost up to $155 million, plus another $12-$13 million a year to operate.
Five stations would need to be built for the project. Prairie Sky proposes they be built at the Rossdale Power Plant, Ortona Armoury, Downtown, End of Steel Park and Whyte Avenue. Twenty new support towers are also part of the proposal.
According to administration's report, appraisal of the impacted city land suggests a lease would cost the company approximately $1.2 million a year.
If Prairie Sky's preliminary vision is approved, the gondola would ferry passengers from downtown, past RE/MAX Field and up toward Whyte Avenue.
"Everything about this project and our vision has become very complimentary to existing city plans and priorities," said Hansen-Carlson. "I think that's why our vision and administration's sort of fundamental job here is really synced up in a positive way."
If approved by city council next week, detailed design work as well as public and Indigenous consultations can begin.
A 'no' vote would disallow the company from leasing the necessary land from the city and end the conversation.
"We've learned a lot about what this project means to the core, to Edmonton, to the region, to the province," said Hansen-Carlson. "Now is the time to get Edmontonians engaged and lets shape this thing."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson