Sightseeing gondola attraction proposed for Fraser Valley

Apr 16 2021, 2:50 pm

The eastern Fraser Valley could soon have a sightseeing gondola that whisks tourists and outdoor enthusiasts to the area’s mountains.

The Cascade Skyline Gondola is proposed by a team that includes Jayson Faulkner, who is the co-founder and former general manager of the Sea to Sky Gondola near Squamish, and a former vice president of Arc’teryx. This ecological and cultural tourism attraction is being pursued in partnership with the Cheam First Nation.

Their concept calls for a gondola base complex on the footprint of the Bridal Falls Golf Club, immediately adjacent to the interchange for the Trans-Canada Highway and Aggasiz-Rosedale Highway.

The base complex would have green spaces, a bistro cafe, a gift shop, walking trails, an events plaza for craft shows and framers’ markets, and a wedding chapel.

cascade skyline gondola

Site of Cascade Skyline Gondola in the Fraser Valley. (Cascade Skyline Gondola)

cascade skyline gondola

Site of Cascade Skyline Gondola in the Fraser Valley. (Cascade Skyline Gondola)

cascade skyline gondola

Layout of Cascade Skyline Gondola, next to the Trans-Canada Highway, in the Fraser Valley. (Cascade Skyline Gondola)

Additionally, this base area includes the proposed Sto’lo Cultural and Interpretive Centre, which will showcase the culture and artifacts of the area’s First Nations.

From the base area, visitors will ride the gondola that takes them to the peak base — an elevation of 1,200 metres. Each one-way ride in cabins with a capacity for up to eight people will take about 15 minutes.

The summit day lodge includes a restaurant, theatre, and extensive viewing decks showcasing the Fraser Valley, Harrison Lake, and the framing mountain peaks. A tube and tobogganing park and ice skating pond are planned adjacent to the lodge.

cascade skyline gondola

Artistic rendering of Cascade Skyline Gondola in the Fraser Valley. (Cascade Skyline Gondola)

cascade skyline gondola

Artistic rendering of Cascade Skyline Gondola in the Fraser Valley. (Cascade Skyline Gondola)

Similar to the Sea to Sky Gondola’s concept, the Cascade Skyline Gondola’s peak base opens up access to walking, hiking, cultural interpretive, mountain biking, and backcountry skiing trails. The summit terminal is over six km west from Mount Cheam along the west ridge between Mount Archibald and Codeine Ridge.

The conditions of this location also make it suitable as a paragliding destination.

The attraction will have a minimal land and environmental footprint, and there will be an aim to enhance and restore an area that was previously logged.

cascade skyline gondola

Artistic rendering of Cascade Skyline Gondola in the Fraser Valley. (Cascade Skyline Gondola)

Cascade Skyline Gondola was first proposed several years ago, and proponents have indicated that it could see final approvals later this year, allowing construction to begin for an opening as early as Spring 2023.

The entire project carries a construction cost of about $70 million, including $28 million for the gondola infrastructure. Proponents state they already have commitments on the land and financing needed to build the attraction.

According to the project team, the Cascade Skyline Gondola has the support of the Fraser Valley Regional District and the City of Chilliwack.

Gondola

The Sea-to-Sky Gondola in Squamish. (Josef Hanus)

Earlier this week, another group announced its proposal to build Bridal Veil Mountain Resort (BVMR) in Chilliwack, a major ski resort with all-season recreational uses, located next to the Trans-Canada Highway.

This significantly larger project would bring a Sun Peaks-sized ski resort to the Fraser Valley, with a sizeable base village of retail, dining, hotels, and housing located about three km west of the base terminal site of Cascade Skyline Gondola. Two gondolas from the base village would reach upper villages to access other lifts reaching a web of downhill skiing trails.

Proponents of BVMR say they are in early discussions with the S’olh Temexw First Nation on a potential partnership.

bridal veil mountain resort chilliwack

Preliminary concept for Bridal Veil Mountain Resort. (Bridal Veil Mountain Resort)

bridal veil mountain resort chilliwack

Preliminary concept for Bridal Veil Mountain Resort. (Bridal Veil Mountain Resort)

bridal veil mountain resort chilliwack

Footprint of Bridal Veil Mountain Resort. (Bridal Veil Mountain Resort)

However, the Cheam First Nation says it is opposed to BVMR over its large footprint, and suggested the municipal and regional governments would lean towards opposition. Such an attraction would also directly compete with their own neighbouring project.

Meanwhile at the Sea to Sky Gondola, operators are still in the process of rebuilding their attraction after the second incident of vandalism in September 2020, when an individual cut the cable supporting the gondola. A reopening with enhanced security measures is anticipated for late Spring 2021.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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