Update (August 16, 2013): Sea to Sky Gondola is on track to be completed by May 2014.
Construction has begun on a $25-million aerial gondola tram in Squamish at a site between Shannon Falls and Stewamus Chief. The Sea To Sky Gondola is being built, financed, and operated by private developers and will take hikers and tourists 2,700-feet above Howe Sound in just eight minutes.
The gondola is located adjacent to the Stewamus Chief, or more commonly known by its many hikers as simply “the Chief.” At the top of the gondola will be a lodge with a restaurant, cultural exhibits, and event space.
The project’s major attractions, aside from the gondola and lodge, will be the major outdoor attractions and recreation opportunities found at the top. It includes viewing platforms of Howe Sound, a suspension bridge, and access trails to backcrountry routes to Mount Habrich, Sky Pilot Mountain, and Goat Ridge.
Each gondola cabin will be fully enclosed with a capacity to hold eight passengers. The gondola’s base terminal is located on a former gravel pit site adjacent to the Sea-to-Sky Highway, and the top of the terminal will be located on the ridge leading to Mount Habrich, which is land owned by the provincial government.
The base terminal will include ticketing, parking facilities, a small food and beverage outlet, retail space, and outdoor equipment and guiding services (for hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, etc.).
The City of Squamish approved the project given its potential to increase tourism and business in the area. It also aligns with city’s theme as the “outdoor recreation capital of Canada.” Developers were given approval after an environmental review found that its impact would be minimal.
The Sea To Sky Gondola is an all-season attraction and will open in May 2014. As Squamish’s miniature version of North Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge, the new alpine attraction mid-way between Vancouver and Whistler is expected to attract 300,000 visitors every year.
Image credits: Sea To Sky Gondola