Weekly Roundup: Burnaby Phase II Report Now Available

Post by Steven Dale

A few highlights from around the world of Urban Gondolas, Gondola Transit, and Cable Propelled Transit:

  • The summary report of the Phase II Public Consultation regarding the Burnaby Mountain Gondola is now available from Translink here. Alternatively, you can also download it direct from The Gondola Project by clicking here.
  • Continuing with Burnaby Mountain, a local group opposed to the idea has launched a site called www.nogondola.com. Not surprisingly, they’ve cherry-picked whatever statistics they can find from the above summary report which support their position.
  • Since it’s been a bit of a slow week here at the Weekly Roundup; and since the continued politicking and arguing over the Burnaby Mountain Gondola can only make one wince out of frustration, here’s something to make you smile:


Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.


  1. Will look to the nogondola site. In the meantime , enjoy probabily the best gondola model. http://youtu.be/GG_4okyKrpw?hd=1
  2. After a fast look here my evaluation about the "Concerns" - Building Cost , this is a founded objection - Operative costs/passive : no reference to the current bus (and car use) costs and % covered fron tickets - Environment & Wildlife : no study is cited, but in reality there is no comparision with the current situation . car and bus traffic have an impact - No changement because only one bus line is substituted , maybe someone local could explain better to me , from what I see SFU is reachable only by the Gagliardi way, so where the need for 4 bus lines? wouldn't be easier, cheaper and with less impact to concentrate them at the gondola station? - Forest grove : preoccupation for the gondola impact and not for the cited oil pipelines ? - Privacy : since its an hilly part of town , its already easy to look into the homes just googling streetview in maple grove or forest grove ... so if the privacy is an issue the owner have already solved or simply dont'care (after all, they cite the frequent helicopter flights..) - Safety : no evaluation of the current risks of bus and car transit , I really doubt that werent any accidents in 10yr span... a comparison here would be interesting. Another thing that makes me wonder is the paragraph "Gondola riders waive responsabilities purschasing a ticket" - at least in Europe is a blatant lie.. To me seems more bulls*it and NIMBY syndrome than a objective analysis
  3. @GiorgioXT "Environment & Wildlife : no study is cited, but in reality there is no comparision with the current situation . car and bus traffic have an impact" and at those in the report thinking towers should be next to existing roads than in the forest have a look at Cairns, Australis's Skyrail. There is a post here: https://www.gondolaproject.com/2010/08/07/the-skyrail-rainforest-cableway/ Skyrail has towers that were put into a national park, which is also part of a UNESCO World Heritage site of the Wet Tropics. Towers were put in by helicopter so no roads had to be cut through the forest. I would argue that towers in a forest can have a very low impact indeed, and the views out the window over the forest are a highlight of the trip. I'm not following the ins and outs of the Burnaby Mountain proposal, but that No Gondolas site is rather sad. They seem to me to be about as forward looking as an exhaust pipe.
  4. @ Giorgio XT I agree with you but you have to feel for the residents who live below the gondola - privacy is basically gone. However, hopefully they see the overall benefits the system brings to the community.
  5. To begin, I live in Forest Grove on Burnaby Mountain, near the proposed gondola route. Oh no: The Enemy! I support the opinions expressed on the nogondola website, but have no connection with its content or its operation. I laughed right out loud at your comment that the nogondola site has "cherry-picked whatever statistics they can find from the above summary report which support their position.". TransLink, in its consultation sessions, has had to backtrack or quantify a number of their lofty claims regarding potential ridership, snow day closures at SFU, pollution impact, and early-consultation support numbers. Clearly, the nogondola folks are not the only ones cherry picking to advance their case. TransLink is far from a paragon of honesty and virtue when it comes to communication with the community. By the way, how did your contract with them go this summer? Nice trip? If you actually read the gondola report from TransLink, you will see that there is significant resistance on issues right across the board, from environmental and privacy issues to costs. There is no one single showstopper, despite your assertion otherwise that resistance is limited to some NIMBY whiners. It is not. Opponents are also taxpayers and TransLink does not have a sterling reputation for doing the right thing, or effectively spending money where it is needed. TransLink has a considerable tax base across Metro Vancouver, and has helped create some of the highest fuel prices in North America, yet they are endlessly looking for more money. At issue is their strategy to get people out of cars, and then choose to not serve those areas where the need is greatest, such as the North East sector, and the lower Fraser Valley. From a taxpayer perspective, those who would potentially use the gondola are students at SFU, who already receive the heavily (tax payer) subsidized U Pass. Students are typically transient during their four or five-year terms, they rent, and pay no property or fuel taxes because they don't own a home or drive a car. They're not paying for it. We are. Value for taxpayer dollars? No. Removing cars from the road? No again. If one digs into TransLink finances and funding, one will also see that they can't afford to spend more than $120 million to replace one single seven km bus route, given all the other challenges they face, or are ignoring, in Metro Vancouver. They can't buy a pack of gum without looking for some new item to tax. Maybe they will tax gum. Or tax people who want gum. In the gondola's case, investment VS potential ridership/pollution reduction is marginal compared to many other routes in the city and Valley that should be much higher on the list of priorities. Given those priorities and pent-up demand elsewhere, that is why people are legitimately asking why this expensive project has moved forward so quickly, when there is really not much need for it. It's because it ain't about students or ridership, it's about supporting SFU's squeaky green planned community of UniverCity on top of the mountain, which is for the most part a lot of roads, empty concrete plazas and condo towers where there used to be a nice forest and trees. I guess these things always look better in AutoCAD and urban planning textbooks. So far, not so good. Your dismissive attitude toward anyone with a legitimate opposing point of view speaks volumes about your unwillingness to recognize that all the problems in the world cannot be solved by public investment in cable operated transit, or by writing about cable operated transit. Hey, it's cool, but really, that's about it. Personally, I like bicycles a lot, but don't put people down who don't ride. Even if they are wrong. It's one thing to have an opinion but if you're just going to be pompous and sniff and write off those who choose to disagree with you, then your site isn't of much use to transit proponents, or opponents. It's not a dialogue, it's just a rant. Just like this. You're not the only one wincing with frustration over the proposed gondola project. There are many factors at play here, but one can only assume that sitting in Toronto, it's hard to stay on top of all the local variables and write with anything resembling informed authority.
  6. Eric, I think if you look through the site, you'll see that I don't have a "dismissive attitude toward anyone with a legitimate opposing view." I've been quite outspoken about what I see to be the problems this system presents (here, here and here, for example). That's all I'm going to say about that. If you'd like to continue this conversation, I'd be happy to, but I'm not going to get drawn into an argument built around vitriol, accusations and rumour-mongering.
  7. Eric, whilst I think you have a lot of interesting things to say, and some things you say may have merit and shouldn't be lightly dismissed, and I'm writing from a great distance, since you live close, and not directly under the route, if and when it is built I bet that you don't mind it's presence in your neighborhood, and you'll see that a lot of what at the moment you're calling Translink's cherry picking of data, like ridership, actually comes true. Plus the moment you take yourself and your kids for a ride, you'll see the merit of the project. I'm just saying that a lot of the NIMBYism will disappear when people see it built and how it operates.
  8. Hello Stephen and Matt: The problem is, that both of you are writing from a very great distance. Stephen lives in Toronto, 3,500 km from Burnaby Mountain. As for you Matt, perhaps even further away. Despite claims to the contrary, my message was not all vitriol and accusations. What I wrote is entirely representative of what many of us who live in Forest Grove feel. Are we supposed to sit back and just embrace a project that will negatively impact our neighbourhood without dialoque? Should we sit down and accept TransLink spending 200, 300, or 400 thousand dollars on studies of dubious merit, when there are far more pressing issues facing the region? This route will perhaps carry 12,000 people per 20 hour day, at peak load during school sessions. In 20 years. Currently several hundred thousand people in the North East sector of Metro, and the Fraser Valley have limited transit options. The money spent on the proposed gondola would be far better spent on solutions to remove thousands of vehicles per day from Metro roads in those areas, rather than replace one single bus route that already has an established ridership. The larger issue of funding and priorities at TransLink extend far beyond our neighbourhood. They extend right across Metro, and include elected members of regional cities, as well as regular residents and taxpayers who believe the agency is running out of control, in many directions that do little to effect tangible benefits. For the most part, we believe that this project has little to do with moving students up and down the hill: Rather, we believe that it is being expedited to serve as a marketing tool for the 'green' community being developed within SFU lands. The 99 year lease on those lands, and the revenue from condominium sales, directly support the university. It is part of their funding model. I am not accusing anyone of impropriety, nor am I accusing anyone of wrongdoing for personal benefit, however it is interesting that the 2011 Chair of TransLink is employed at SFU, and the Finance committee chair of the UniverCity development corporation also sits on the TransLink board. SFU benefits from the development of UniverCity. The real estate market is soft, and there is a disproportionately high level of resales at UniverCity compared to the rest of North East Burnaby. An order of magnitude higher. So are we looking at real need, or are we looking at a marketing hook to dispel fears about living on a mountain top? As you can see, the optics are not entirely transparent as to why the gondola project, above so many other more pressing needs in the region, that could yield greater benefit in terms of ridership and reduction in vehicle traffic, is being expedited. Neither of you live in Metro, let alone Forest Grove, therefore neither of you are really in a strong position to express much opinion on TransLink, nor the gondola plan. It's our experience, not yours. I would hesitate to counsel Greeks on how to resolve their debt crisis, because I don't live there, and know nothing about their economy. I would also think that advocating a cable gondola from thousands of kilometres away, that will affect a neighbourhood that you are not familiar with, let alone face tax increases to pay for it, would fall into a similar category. Or logic would dictate that it should. I'm certain that you believe gondolas and cable transit solutions are clever, workable solutions for some applications, and that's fine. But you have to admit, as with anything, there are times and places where they will not work. Most residents believe that this is one of those situations. The residents of Forest Grove, and many more residents of Metro Vancouver, believe that the timing, approach, and cost of the proposed gondola are the wrong idea given the route, the cost, the lack of funding TransLink is facing, and the lack of accountability of TransLink to the general population of Metro, which bankrolls their projects with little or no effective input on their direction or priorities.
  9. Since you are a "local" , could you enlight me about the 5 bus lines to SFU ? from what I see there's a rather long sole access road (true?) to SFU . Another thing : the Univercity cited by you and on site is just planned or in building stage? Thanks from far away.
  10. Actually Eric I can't see that "Most residents believe that this is one of those situations." is true. The NoGondola site looks to me to be spinning the data. 300 odd objections in a metro area of how many million does not equal 75%. Using an aerial technology to augment a rapid transit network by linking one of the extant Skytrain stations and a node of high usage in SFU would seem to be a great idea. As I said if I was a local I wouldn't worry if it went through the forest, as the Cairns Skyrail example I gave is an example of what a low impact such a system can have on a forest. I hope the apparent nimbyism isn't the defeat of it. It looks like a good project to me, and an appropriate use of an appropriate technology. As for your parochialism, bah humbug.
  11. Hello again, Responding to the question about UniverCity, it is being developed now, and will continue to grow over the next decade or more. Google UniverCity and the Simon Fraser Community Trust. Questions regarding the general opinion of citizens can be answered by reading TransLink's own report on the gondola community consultation: 75% of respondents were strongly opposed, 15% were strongly in favour. Hard to argue with that, seems clear to me. For a broader view of how Metro Vancouver residents perceive TransLink, the gondola project, and fuel tax increases, I would suggest searching those topics on today's CBC British Columbia news, or News1130, or The Burnaby Now online edition. For those of you who are not in the region/province/country, those are good sources of local news that will help you to understand the local dynamic. Be sure to read comments posted by readers. There is a significant backlash against yet another gasoline tax increase to support large TransLink initiatives that have been foundering for 10 years. Read for yourselves how overburdened, and angry residents are, and what a mismanaged money pit TransLink is generally perceived to be. Explore the depth of contempt citizens have for being taxed to death to support infrastructure projects that used to be paid for out of general tax revenue. See how the gondola line to UniverCity condos is at the bottom of the barrel in most people's minds given all the much larger issues and costs facing the region. Rest assured, not all of these people are unenlightened Luddites with no vision for the future, they are average citizens who question the efficacy of spending more money that TransLink does not have. As I pointed out earlier, if you better understood local issues you may be more accommodating to opinions and positions that run counter to your strongly-held beliefs. And honestly, there's no parochialism on my part. It's just if you don't live here, your opinions don't really matter that much in the final analysis. Just because you have Internet access doesn't make you a player in local issues. Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes. Now, it's your turn to say, "No it isn't."
  12. @Eric "Questions regarding the general opinion of citizens can be answered by reading TransLink’s own report on the gondola community consultation: 75% of respondents were strongly opposed, 15% were strongly in favour. Hard to argue with that, seems clear to me." Actually it's very, very easy to argue with as the same report uses the words "self-selected", and actually explains: "The views represented in this report reflect the priorities and concerns of the consultation participants. They may not be representative of the views of all stakeholders and the public because participants self-­selected into Phase Two Consultation. Although results may be presented in the form of percentages, there are no margins of error for this data because there is no probability sample. The sample in question is based on self-­‐selection, for which a sampling error cannot be measured." Claiming 75% unsupport on that is propaganda. We get it Eric you don't like it, but you are an almost lone voice. A loud voice no doubt, but your long winded reply added nothing over your previous long-winded replies, and it is obvious you do not read anything else others have written as you keep on making the same mistakes they've already pointed out to you that you are making. The local versus non-local argument is also trite (and arrogant), but for what it's worth New Westminster, baby.
  13. I dispute that I am the lone voice opposed to the proposed TransLink gondola project, unless you mean the general readership of this site, and then clearly you are correct. But then that's no real surprise. And before leaving you all alone, I ask again how it is that the local VS non-local argument can possibly be parochial or trite, or arrogant. Being an advocate for a technology or solution has to be balanced with some understanding of local issues and impacts that may come about as a result of its implementation. You seem somewhat blinded by your enthusiasm, without seeing the broader picture. Jeff Busby, the TransLink manager of project planning, was put on the spot at the first community consultation at a local elementary school (well outside the Forest Grove neighbourhood by the way) when asked by a member of the audience if he would like to have a gondola over his home, or neighbourhood. He would not answer, saying it was immaterial what he thought. Our guess was, he wouldn't like that too much. Off the record at the end that meeting, a senior TransLink communications officer told me and three neighbours of mine that he fully sympathized with our concerns and anger over the plan, and that would not want one over his home or neighbourhood. So much for sticking to principles. Lone voice? I think not. So long.
  14. Following on the points raised by Eric, you can't just look at this gondola proposal in splendid isolation. It has to be considered in context. I can see how some people might be so dazzled by the vision of this thing that they wouldn't see what a non-starter it really is. You can steadfastly ignore the regional transportation planning and priorities context, the cost/benefit context, the TransLink accountability context, and so on, but then don't accuse gondola opponents of cherry-picking their arguments, or of refusing to read what others have written. Note that this proposal didn't originate with the transportation authority (TransLink). Nor did it originate with the university. It originated with the developer of the property at the top of the hill where the upper gondola terminal would be located. Although the proposal has been adopted by TransLink, there is room for concern as to who the intended beneficiaries really are, and who will wind up paying. (Disclosure: I live in the Forest Grove neighbourhood.)
  15. GiorgioXT asked: Since you are a “local” , could you enlight me about the 5 bus lines to SFU ? from what I see there’s a rather long sole access road (true?) to SFU . GiorgioXT, here is a link to TransLink's route map for Burnaby. Look for "SFU EXCHANGE" in the upper right area and you find the 5 bus routes serving SFU. http://www.translink.ca/~/media/documents/schedules_and_maps/transit_system_maps/september2011/burnaby_newwestminster_sep2011.ashx
  16. I've intentionally left myself out of this debate right now. I'll prepare a full comment for next week - likely monday.
  17. Many thanks for the link the files needs to be renamed with the suffix .pdf instead of .ashx to be seen.

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