Edmonton gondola project hoping to set aerial rights, permits with city next week

Click to play video: 'Edmontonians pushing for gondola head to city hall'
Edmontonians pushing for gondola head to city hall
WATCH ABOVE: People pushing for a gondola across the river valley are taking their plan to city council next week. They say a gondola makes sense and they need help from councillors. Fletcher Kent reports – Apr 4, 2019

UPDATE: On April 9, after some pointed questions, the four-member urban planning committee agreed to have full council hear the issue next week before a final decision is made.

UPDATE: On April 16, in a 9-4 vote, city council agreed to have city administration work with Prairie Sky Gondola on a feasibility study. No city money is going into the project or the study at this time.

The gondola proposal is about to enter its next step. Prairie Sky is looking for a formal agreement with the city so it can do a preliminary economic and technical assessment.

Edmonton city council’s Urban Planning Committee will get its first update next Tuesday, and at that point, Prairie Sky’s Jeffrey Hansen Carlson will be looking for the green light on a formal agreement with the city.

“What we’ve done with the administration to date is really establish a good, healthy working relationship and understanding of what we expect and what they expect.

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Hansen Carlson told Global News the team is seeking three things.

“We need a deal with ETS (Edmonton Transit Service) that allows this piece of infrastructure to plug in to ETS.

“We need the aerial rights. We need concurrent permitting so the three stations can be constructed concurrently,” Hansen Carlson said.

“So there’s a true relationship we need with the city to enable this project on different levels, but we’re not asking for money.”

Over the past year, the team reviewed 40 case studies and has brought in consultants to review the landscape of Edmonton’s river valley.

“We’ve talked with experts around world. Various experts — whether it’s on the planning side or the manufacturing and operations side — have traveled to Edmonton, sat down with our team, walked the alignment, understood from a practical standpoint what this project looks like, and nobody has raised any red flags.

“Everybody comes back and says: ‘I want to be a part of this.'”

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Hansen Carlson said the team has commercial letters with land owners as part of five options for station locations.

He wouldn’t confirm exact spots, but he said Prairie Sky has its eye on three general sites.

“From a central point downtown — with direct connectivity to Central Station and the bus depot and the bike lanes and all the rest of it — down to Rossdale. The opportunities down in Rossdale for the station location really align well with development of the river cross plans for redevelopment of West Rossdale.

“And then up to Strathcona, right as close to Whyte Ave as we can possibly get.”

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“We might have to put a tower on public land. We might ask to lease or purchase land from the city.

“We’re not looking for handouts. And I think that’s really helped the conversation because we haven’t wavered on that.”

The Gondola over the North Saskatchewan River was chosen as the winner of The Edmonton Project: a March 2018 contest asking average people to come up with an idea that is uniquely Edmontonian.

The gondola idea was submitted by Edmonton residents Gary and Amber Poliquin, who run local tourism company Big E Tours.

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