Edmonton gondola backers ready to tell city councillors they ‘have the money to move forward’

WATCH ABOVE: Some Global News videos about the push for using a gondola for transportation in Edmonton.

When the concept of Prairie Sky Gondola was hatched, director Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson thought the idea would do well if the City of Edmonton bought into the vision for the river valley and West Rossdale. However, he never thought the numbers would be this good.

“In our first year of operations, we’ll have 637,000 customers for a total of more than three-million trips,” he told Global News in a phone interview as he darted from meeting to meeting ahead of the anticipated release of a city report on Thursday that will be reviewed on Jan. 28 by city council’s urban planning committee.

“Those are significant numbers and they’re much higher than I would have guessed in the early throws of Prairie Sky. So we’re very happy with that projection.”

Prairie Sky completed Phase 1 of its feasibility study and was due to share the news with its first investors information session on Wednesday night.

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“It gives us a layer of confidence that there’s a legitimate need in the three tronches of customers we hope to be able to define,” Hansen-Carlson said. “There’s going to be urban commuters that use this, there’s going to be recreational users that use this and it’s going to create a tourism economy that didn’t exist before.

“For us to show up in the marketplace and have 637,000 customers as our first projection is a very healthy place for us to start from.”

Hansen-Carlson said the projection was based on tourism data and other figures collected from the city and the province, as well as survey work the initiative did at the airport.

He said it was also peer reviewed and audited.

“For the purposes of our Phase 1 of our feasibility work, it’s probably not perfect and it’ll probably be refined, but it’s definitely a good place for us to start.”

With Phase 1 complete, the next steps will be community consultation to see if the public agrees with the site locations they’re looking at atop both sides of the river and in West Rossdale.

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If the urban planning committee gives the go ahead, Hansen-Carlson said his team will be ready.

“We have the money to move forward,” he said, affirming that there will be no need for city money to be involved.

Hansen-Carlson also said that getting the Edmonton story into other cities for investors to ponder has worked.

“We have more commitments from the capital markets than we probably anticipated at this point in project development.”

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