Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Gondola Proposed across North Saskatchewan River in the Middle of Edmonton

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Gondola Proposed across North Saskatchewan River in the Middle of Edmonton

Article excerpt

Gondola proposed across Edmonton's river valley

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EDMONTON - An idea to build a gondola across Edmonton's river valley is getting some support this week -- despite criticism it would be "nice to have" rather than truly necessary.

In a report going to the city's urban planning committee Tuesday, the Edmonton Transit System advisory board recommends further study into the possibility of stringing urban cable cars across the North Saskatchewan River.

It suggests the gondolas could connect the downtown on the river's north side to Whyte Avenue, a popular street with bars, restaurants and boutiques in the south-side Old Strathcona neighbourhood.

Sean Lee, the advisory board's chairman, said the idea of a gondola over the city's deep, heavily treed river valley has been debated on and off for years.

"It's popped up now and then," said Lee, adding the board started looking at the most recent idea in late 2016.

Enter a group of investors who started The Edmonton Project and put out a call last August for residents to submit their ideas for an attraction in the city.

A gondola connecting downtown and Old Strathcona was proposed by Gary and Amber Poliquin.

"My wife and I are both runners," said Gary Poliquin. "We run in the river valley all the time."

They had seen gondolas during their travels and wondered if they could work as a commuter option in Edmonton.

Poliquin said a gondola would be quieter than another bridge, have a lower environmental footprint and be easy to build within a year.

The idea won the contest and led to a renewed debate in the city.

Some have criticized it on social media and in newspaper editorials, suggesting it would be a waste of money and could have a similar fate as the city's new funicular -- a cable car that goes up a hillside in Edmonton's river valley. It has regularly broken down in harsh weather.

Others -- including business groups in the downtown and Old Strathcona, the River Valley Alliance and private investors -- are on board. …

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