By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: April 20, 2012
There were a few critics, some notable ones, but they were far outnumbered by the gondola supporters.
SLRD planner Ian Hall said although the SLRD board had heard concerns about the removal of land from the park, the gondola project won’t set up a precedent for that.
“Land has been removed before for transmission lines, recreation use, and Sea to Sky Highway Improvement project. This is not going to be precedent setting project,” Hall said.
In his opening remarks, proponent David Greenfield said the gondola would create 30 to 80 jobs in Squamish, giving locals the option of working in Squamish rather than commuting to the city.
“Right now, 50 per cent of our workforce commutes to Vancouver. We need to diversify that and tourism is a key element in that,” he said.
The tone that he set for the evening echoed in the hall, as speaker after speaker came to support the gondola.
Squamish Nation Councillor Dale Harry said the gondola had the backing of the first nation community.
“We opposed the earlier gondola to the Chief, but our community will support this project,” Harry said.
Jared Sissons from Tourism Squamish said the organisation would overwhelmingly support the gondola project, a view also shared by the representative of the Executive Inn Hotel.
“This is a fantastic addition to tourism and will help promote Squamish as a destination in its own right,” Sissons said.
Squamish local James Retty said he has been involved in tourism operations in Switzerland, and knows how entire town have prospered because of the gondolas.
A gondola would draw visitors, create jobs for locals, and help Squamish become a destination, was the common refrain for gondola supporters.
John Harvey, Kristin Clausen, Nancy Hamilton, Jill Carter, Rod McLeod, Scott McQuade, and Auli Parviainen spoke in favour of the Gondola.
Peter Harker, the president of the Squamish Downtown Neighbourhood Association, was the first to take a jab at the gondola proposal.
“Is nothing sacred? It would be a tragedy if we cut the park into half.
“There are tonnes of other places where this gondola could go. Putting it here would be sacrilegious,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of Friends of the Chief, Anders Ouroum said he doesn’t oppose the gondola per se, but its location.
“What’s the point of having a park that is not protected? We want that land should not be removed for the gondola.”
He also said the process for a gondola hasn’t been very inclusive.
“It hasn’t been much of a public process.”
Frank Baumann said he opposes the gondola because the Stawamus Chief park is a “unique and a special place”, whose sanctity must be protected.
In a press release issued after the meeting, Trevor Dunn, the proponent of the gondola said he wanted to thank those who came to express their views.
“We have hosted close to 100 such meetings and information nights since the project was announced last summer. Tonight was a strong indication that those efforts have been well received,” he said.