Gondola town hall presenters share benefits of proposed project

The project can provide another emergency exit route for SFU community

Upper bus loop with buses in the background
Amirul Anirban / The Peak

By: Yelin Gemma Lee, News Writer 

On January 21, 2022 Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS), Graduate Student Society (GSS), and SFU collaboratively presented a virtual gondola town hall where the external relations representatives from each group delivered a presentation. The presentations highlighted the benefits of the proposed Burnaby Mountain gondola transit project to various SFU community members and included updates on where the project is headed this year. 

The event was moderated by SFSS Board organizer Ella Droko. SFSS vice-president external and community affairs Matthew Provost was the first to present.

“The support for the Burnaby Mountain gondola project has been long-standing,” said Provost. “It also added an extra evacuation measure in the event of two exit routes on Burnaby Mountain becoming blocked, either due to weather or hazardous events simply because the Burnaby Mountain tank farm is actually located on campus as well.” 

He said the SFSS has been lobbying since 2009 for the gondola and believes the majority of students who rely on public transit deserve safe and reliable services.

Provost added the gondola is a sustainable solution to issues such as traffic congestion, population growth on campus, and limited parking on campus. He reported it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,700 tons per year and double the transit capacity of the existing 145 bus route, loading “2,600 passengers per hour per direction.”

“For the longevity of this project, it seems that this would be a more appropriate measure to address some of those concerns around overcrowding and population growth,” said Provost. Students and UniverCity residents should be able to access services off the mountain easier, he said.

Ruben Munoz, GSS director external relations, began his presentation by emphasizing the different barriers graduate students experience such as parenthood and workforce responsibilities. Munoz pointed out major issues GSS membership experience include inconsistent schedules, difficulties establishing a sense of community, longer commutes with practical terms and internships, and inconsistent transit with winter weather.

“We’re looking for more secure options. So therefore when we talk about community issues, these issues affect us at a deeper scale,” said Munoz. He pointed out additional and reliable transportation will have a positive impact on students’ mental health and sense of community on campus. 

Joanne Curry, SFU vice-president external relations and the institutional lead for the gondola project for the past eight years, was the final presenter.

Curry explained that over the past two years, TransLink has been addressing technical requirements such as impacts on sound and environment. She said there is a lot of data globally to support the viability and safety of the project.

The Georgia Straight reported the Burnaby Mountain gondola project’s most direct route was approved by the Burnaby City Council in a closed meeting on January 24. The next steps are for the Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation to include the project on TransLink’s 10-Year Vision and Investment plan, which will also include consideration for funding the project.