Posts Tagged: No Gondola



Weekly Roundup: No Gondola At It Again

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

  • The Philippine Daily Enquirer reports that the Philippines has (with little notice from the outside world, we might mention) implemented up to 100 ropeway systems throughout the country for agricultural purposes. The systems can carry both farmers and their products throughout the oftentimes difficult Phillippine topography.
  • A Letter to The Editor outlines a case against the proposed Squamish, British Columbia Sea-to-Sky Gondola.
  • German-language news program MoMa Reporter discusses the impact of Rio’s Complexo do Alemao Teleferico (around the 3:00 mark). As always, our German-speaking readers are invited to provide any translations in the comments below.
  • Fox 12 Oregon reports on aerial rescue exercises held for the Portland Aerial Tram. That in itself isn’t nearly as interesting as the fact that the report states that since 2007 the Tram has carried a whopping 6 million passengers. Pretty impressive for a two stop, 1 km long system.
  • And lastly, here’s a good example of a win-at-all-costs strategy that gives grassroots advocacy a bad name: The anti-Burnaby Mountain Gondola team over at No Gondola continues their creative reporting of facts in a recent post titled Burnaby Mountain Gondola Does Not Have Full Support of Local Residents. While the headline itself is correct, it’s highly misleading. Firstly, the survey they are reporting on shows that 47% of residents support the project with 39% opposed. Secondly, what project or program or policy ever has “full support” of local residents? Never happens. This is an incredibly weak argument equivalent to saying steak is a bad meal because not everyone in the world likes to eat beef. For more of No Gondola’s tactics see this post as well as the ugly debate that broke out last month over the term “cherry-picking.”


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Burnaby Mountain vs. No Gondola

(Voluntary Disclosure: This past summer I was retained by Translink – at their behest – to meet with stakeholders in Vancouver associated with the Burnaby Mountain Gondola proposal; tour the proposed route of the gondola; and give a presentation to select staff of Translink and CH2M Hill on best practices in Cable Propelled Transit systems. The opinions expressed below are my own professional opinion and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Translink, CH2M Hill nor either of their staffs.)

No Gondola actively opposes the Burnaby Mountain Gondola.

During a Weekly Roundup post last week we linked to the No Gondola site and stated that the site had “cherry-picked” certain stats from Translink’s Phase II Public Consultation Report regarding the Burnaby Mountain Gondola.

As No Gondola is fiercely against the Burnaby Mountain Gondola, the term “cherry-picking” was not well-received and resulted in one of the more ugly debates to appear on The Gondola Project. This wasn’t an entirely unfamiliar incident as something similar occurred during another Weekly Roundup from earlier in the summer.

So let’s avoid the term “cherry-picking” and highlight the selective reading of Translink’s report that No Gondola is engaging in:

No Gondola (as well as commenters on this site) have consistently stated that “75% strongly disagree with proposed gondola.”

Fine. But who are those 75%?

As Translink’s report states explicitly, those are 75% of the 561 “self-selected” individuals who participated in Translink’s public consultation process. The “self-selected” adjective is copiously absent from No Gondola’s commentary.

In other words, this sample is hardly representative of the population as a whole.

If you went into an Apple store and asked everyone in there if they liked PCs, I suspect you’d find around 75% of respondents would say PCs are garbage. Maybe more.

Bias and self-selection within any kind of study pretty much invalidates the results of said survey. We saw this previously in the Neumann & Bondada studies (here and here) where planners with no knowledge of Cable Propelled Transit solutions ranked them lower in efficacy than those planners with Cable Propelled Transit understanding.

Nevertheless, No Gondola has chosen to use this questionable statistic as evidence that “the citizens of B.C. do not support spending $120+ million on a gondola on Burnaby Mountain.”

Suddenly it’s not just Burnaby Mountain/Forest Grove residents that object to the project. It’s not even just the residents of Vancouver. It’s the entire population of British Columbia.

How can they make that statement? Easy: They can’t.

This kind of weak reasoning and purposeful manipulation of statistics is unconscionable and has no place in community advocacy. By engaging in these kinds of techniques and tactics, the No Gondola group have unequivocally stated their willingness to lie and manipulate facts to get people on their side.

As justification for their willful manipulation of facts, commenter Eric states that “Translink is far from a paragon of honesty and virtue when it comes to communication with the community.”

Whether accurate or not, I think it important to remember what our mothers always told us: Two wrongs don’t make a right. It may be a a cliché; it may be trite; and it may be naive – but it’s also a good rule to live by.

If you can’t get people on your side with the truth, then maybe (repeat: maybe) your side doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on to begin with.

If we (CUP Projects) engaged in that kind of commentary, we’d be out of business next week.

Honesty is important – especially when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of people. As we’ve stated on this site previously, we feel that public engagement is a commitment to compromise, not an act of war.

In the end, we’re no fans of the public consultation process Translink has engaged in with this project and question what we feel is an inflated cost for the system. Do these two things invalidate the gondola? Maybe. But that’s not for us to say.

We can comment from afar but that’s about as far as it goes.

On paper, the concept is sound and makes a lot of sense – and in the end, the route alignment proposed is the most logical of the options available. Unfortunately that route alignment is what makes this system so controversial.

We certainly sympathize with Forest Grove residents and even agree with many of their complaints (see our perspective on NOMBYism here) – but I object strongly with the means they’re using to get their way.

It’s manipulative and dishonest, and highly unlikely to win them the support they expect.

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.