People of all ages will be whipping down Queen Elizabeth Park this summer with the Vancouver Park Board’s decision to approve a zipline installation in time for the park’s 75th anniversary.
Last night, Park Board commissioners voted 5-2 in favour of Vancouver-based Greenheart International’s proposal to build, finance and operate a zipline that runs along a 190-metre-long route on the northwest face of the park from the top of the hill north of Bloedel Conservatory.
The length of the run is 20 metres longer than the free zipline that was installed over Robson Square during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
The Queen Elizabeth Park zipline could be open as early as late-May and will involve the installation of a launch tower and landing area linked by two small one-inch diameter cables.
Only a small footprint of the park is required to run the zipline, which largely runs over the quarry garden and holds a capacity to carry 60 people per hour. Riders will enjoy unobstructed views of the downtown skyline and North Shore mountains as Little Mountain, the location of Queen Elizabeth Park, is located 152 metres above sea level – the highest point in the city of Vancouver.
The attraction is currently a pilot project and could potentially become a permanent piece of the park, pending a review of the zipline’s operations later in the fall.
Admission to experience the zipline would range between $15 to $20 per ride, a fee that proponents say will be comparable fees of the multi-route ziplines at Grouse Mountain and Whistler.
A portion of the company’s profits from the zipline operation will be given to the financially-troubled Park Board if the zipline generates over $75,000 in revenue.
If the zipline hits a $400,000 revenue target, the Park Board is eligible to receive 40 per cent or $160,000. The attraction could also prove to be significant driver for increasing the number of visitors to Queen Elizabeth Park and the Bloedel Conservatory.
The NPA and Vision Vancouver commissioners voted in support of the plan while the Green Party commissioners were adamantly against the project in last night’s proceedings. Green Party commissioner Stuart Mackinnon argued that the project was a “cash grab” and does not fit within the concept of a “peaceful and quiet” park.
But commissioners who were in favour of the project defended the plan given that the zipline is a temporary structure to celebrate the park’s anniversary and derided claims it was an amusement park ride.
“I do think that sometimes, it’s nice to have a little fun,” said NPA commissioner John Coupar. “It has a low impact, it’s not mechanical, there are no motors and it’s gravity fed.”
“I think the comment about it being an ‘aerial trail’ is a brilliant way to look at it. Here you are soaring above one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, soaring above one of the most beautiful cities in the world… and quite frankly, I can’t wait to take the first ride.”
Route of the proposed Queen Elizabeth Park zipline (click on image for enlarged version)
Views of the skyline from the Queen Elizabeth Park zipline.
The zipline will largely hover over Queen Elizabeth Park’s quarry garden.