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TransLink hasn't consulted enough on gondola project, say Burnaby politicians

TransLink recently said it would compensate affected homeowners in gondola's path
Rendering of the proposed Burnaby Mountain gondola

Some Burnaby politicians say more consultations are needed after new details were submitted to council by TransLink about the proposed SFU gondola project.

In May of 2019, city council endorsed a recommendation that supports the gondola link from SkyTrain to the top of Burnaby Mountain, subject to five conditions. 

  • Residents - Minimize impacts to residents living near the gondola 
  • Environment - Minimize impacts to areas with high ecological values, such as fish-bearing streams and riparian areas
  • Compensation - Provide fair compensation to affected property owners for intrusion of the gondola, both for its physical footprint on their lands and its aerial passage over them
  • Options - All three options should be considered on an equal basis in the next stage of analysis and public consultation
  • Consultation - Engage the community in meaningful consultation, especially with respect to alignment options and report back to council on the results

Afterward, two public engagement surveys were undertaken by TransLink. 

In phase one (September 2020) of consultations, a total of 84% of 12,955 survey respondents supported the overall idea of the proposed gondola, while 8% were not at all supportive or somewhat unsupportive. 

Phase two (November/December 2020) saw 83% out of 7,293 survey respondents supportive of the project while 10% were not supportive. 

The city report presented to council on Monday (July 12) stated TransLink would compensate the two multi-family properties that are beneath route one for passage over their lands and the gondola will not exceed background noise levels in Forest Grove, as residents in the area remain strongly opposed to the project altogether. 

But Monday evening, councillors said they believe the transit company has not done enough consultations with all those that would be impacted. 

"Even though we might have given the preliminary consent to go ahead with various consultations, I think I’m not really satisfied with how they’ve done the consultations with the residents of the affected complexes and with some of the businesses," Coun. Pietro Calendino said. 

"They [TransLink] will be doing a business case before they can decide how much the compensation can be and it seems to methis is being done backwards. How can one have a business case without considering all the potential costs to include in that business case to go forward and ask for funding at other levels of government?

"So, to me, they should not move forward unless they actually have a frank conversation with the residents that are affected and then what compensation they’re willing to offer and whether those people are willing to accept that level of compensation or not." 

TransLink did not include any level or amount of compensation they would provide in their latest report submitted to the city, only saying they would offer compensation. 

Coun. Colleen Jordan echoed similar comments when it comes to businesses, saying they've heard from businesses in the area that say they have not been consulted or even spoken to. 

"I didn’t see anything in the commitments having to do with the commercial properties in Lake City that were being passed over," she said.

“Even though I’ve supported and voted in principle in support of the gondola, I would like to know whether those property owners have had their concerns addressed too, not simply Forest Grove residents."

Coun. Joe Keithley also agreed with Jordan and Calendino, saying TransLink has not properly consulted those in the area while also adding the company has not made a reasonable business case. 

The city stressed the fact that no decision on construction has been made at this time. 

"TransLink's proposed short-term actions are about financial planning, and would therefore not include additional public consultation. Further consultation would need to be based on additional information on impact mitigation or compensation that would not arise from a Business Case. However, it is clear that further discussions with residents of Forest Grove would be necessary if this were to become a funded project."