Written by: Youeal Abera, News Team Member

On Monday, March 4, Build The SFU Gondola alleged over Facebook that Jasdeep Gill’s recent comments to Daily Hive, in support of an SFU gondola, were insincere. Gill told Daily Hive that the Simon Fraser Student Society has been lobbying BC’s government so that the gondola project could receive more funding. Gill also articulated to Daily Hive that, according to a survey administered by the SFSS, 77% of SFU students want dependable services from TransLink. “This data and student feedback makes it clear that the gondola project is essential for the students at SFU,” said Gill.

The group claimed that Gill’s comments to Daily Hive, featured in an opinions piece about the potential for an SFU gondola project, were made to further her campaign in the SFSS election rather than to offer genuine support.

“She has taken advantage of a Daily Hive article as a cheap campaign opportunity to discuss a political hot-topic, leveraging the incredible work being done by this page’s co-founders and our cause’s supporters to boost her own election campaign,” read Build The SFU Gondola’s post.

Colin Fowler, co-founder of Build the SFU Gondola, has claimed that in spite of Gill saying she has done work towards implementing a Gondola for SFU’s student body, there has been no proof of such work by her or the SFSS.

In an email interview with The Peak, Fowler expressed his frustration, “Jasdeep has said that she’s been working on the gondola project as part of her work with the SFSS, but upon further questioning, admitted she had only been advocating for a safer plan for Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby Mountain tank farm [. . .] beyond this, we have not seen the evidence that Jasdeep or the SFSS have taken an active role in advocating for the gondola, despite how clearly it needs to be built.”

In elaborating on the lack of evidence for their work towards the gondola project, Fowler explained methods used by Build the SFU Gondola to ascertain what support Gill and the SFSS has made.

We’ve checked every set of SFSS meeting minutes over the last year from the Board of Directors meetings, as well as the Advocacy Committee (which doesn’t have any public minutes posted) and the fall lobbying report,” Fowler said. In all of their research, Fowler said that Build the SFU Gondola  “could not find any documents within the public realm discussing the gondola, with the exception of the Advocacy Committee work plan for the year which appeared in June.”

Through an email interview with The Peak, Gill responded to Fowler’s claims by articulating that plans for the gondola have always been discussed by the SFSS.

“The SFSS has been advocating for a tank farm safety plan for years. We have previously organized rallies on campus, collected student feedback through surveys, and sent hundreds of letters to the federal government to stress the importance of developing an appropriate plan [. . .] the Gondola project has always been discussed as a piece in this safety plan.”

Additionally, Gill said that the SFSS has done more than discuss the plans of the gondola amongst members of its group. Gill stressed that the SFSS has also discussed the gondola plans with the National Energy Board, a group responsible for considering the Canadian public’s social, economic, and environmental considerations regarding energy development and pipelines. Gill stated, “Earlier this year, we reached out to the National Energy Board as this federal body is responsible for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project (TMEP) for Burnaby’s Tank Farm.”

When asked how his frustrations could be addressed, Fowler told The Peak that he has no plans to resolve the issue between Build The SFU Gondola and Gill, “At this point, we have no plan to resolve the dispute with Jasdeep over her claims for the gondola [. . .]”.

Moreover, Fowler remains candid by stating the root of his frustrations with Gill and the SFSS, “What really sickens us is the lack of evidence that Jasdeep or the current SFSS board have ever done significant advocacy work for the gondola. These claims have appeared just before an election and after we and dozens of student supporters secured coverage for the gondola in the media [. . .].

“We do not take it lightly when someone chooses to exploit the work every student does to make the gondola happen in order to get themselves re-elected,” affirmed Fowler.

With files from Daily Hive and Facebook.