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Students’ group urges Burnaby council to back SFU gondola with shortest route

An artist's rendering of the proposed SFU gondola. TransLink

The body representing Simon Fraser University students is calling on Burnaby city council to again throw its weight behind a proposed gondola to the top of Burnaby Mountain.

TransLink completed a second phase of public consultation on the proposal — which would link SFU to SkyTrain via a cable-car system — in December and is preparing to present a preferred route.

Read more: Strong support for Burnaby Mountain gondola, TransLink says

In a letter to Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley and council, Simon Fraser Student Society president Osob Mohamed urged council to publicly back the project — along with the shortest of three possible routes.

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The letter cites annual transit chaos for students trying to access the Burnaby Mountain campus during snowstorms, along with frequent over-crowding and pass-ups on existing bus routes as a key issue.

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“Over 88 per cent of our members regularly use public transportation to commute to class, and nearly 95 per cent of SFU undergraduate students consider reliable TransLink services important or very important,” Mohamed writes.

“Keeping students and community members off the roads will reduce accidents, and keep us all safe. Students deserve reliable rapid transit that they can count on to get them to class on time all year round.”

Read more: Will Burnaby back a gondola to SFU? Council to vote on concept Monday

The letter also argues the gondola would provide another potential safe exit point from campus in the event of an earthquake or emergency at the Burnaby Mountain Tank Farm.

As a part of the consultation process, TransLink is considering three potential routes:

  • Production Way–University Station to SFU Bus Exchange
  • Production Way–University Station to SFU Bus Exchange with an angle station on the east bend in Gaglardi Way
  • Lake City Way Station to South Campus Way with an angle station at Centennial Way/Burnaby Mountain Parkway
Map representing the three proposed gondola routes.

Mohamed’s letter throws students’ support behind the first route, which would directly connect the Production Way SkyTrain station with the campus, and urges Burnaby Council to do likewise.

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“Of the three proposed routes, Route 1 has the fastest travel time and has the lowest environmental impacts,” he writes.

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“Students who attended our open house noted that it would be the most feasible route, as commuters from both the Millenium Line and Expo Line connect at Production Way-University station already, and the location of the terminus allows easier walkability to SFU buildings.

Previous reports on the project have noted Route 1 would be the most efficient and cheapest route. However, unlike the other two, it would pass over homes and could face opposition from residents.

Read more: Burnaby council approves further study into SFU gondola

With its most recent round of consultations complete, TransLink says its next step will be to present a preferred route to Burnaby city council and the TransLink Mayor’s Council for direction.

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Burnaby city council backed the project in May 2019 on the grounds that it meets a list of conditions, including compensating affected residents, minimizing impacts on residents, reducing environmental impacts and full consultation.

The gondola is not yet approved or funded, and a cost estimate has not been assigned though prior reports have pegged the price tag at $200 million or more.

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