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Council endorses most direct route for Burnaby Mountain-SFU gondola project

Route one opposed by many Forest Grove residents
Rendering of the proposed Burnaby Mountain gondola

Burnaby council has officially endorsed the most direct route option for TransLink’s proposed Burnaby Mountain gondola project.

The route one option is a direct route from the Production Way-University SkyTrain station to UniverCity and SFU. The direct route is 2.7-kilometres long with an estimated travel time of six minutes - a nine-minute time savings compared to the current average bus travel time of 15 minutes, said TransLink.

TransLink has said that more than 85% of the 7,000 respondents over two rounds of public engagement supported the straight route.

The project, which has been estimated to cost $200 million, will now be considered for inclusion in the Mayors’ Council new 10-Year Vision, said the city.

“The Burnaby Mountain Gondola project will create a safe and reliable transit option for Burnaby residents travelling to and from Burnaby Mountain,” said Mayor Mike Hurley, in a statement. “By taking cars and buses off the road it will be one of the many changes we must make in our city to achieve the aggressive targets we’ve set for reducing carbon emissions. Before endorsing this project, council stressed the importance of consultation with residents, businesses and First Nations, and we expect that dialogue to continue should this project move forward.”

The Burnaby Mountain Gondola would provide service between SkyTrain and Burnaby Mountain for the 25,000 daily trips made by SFU students, staff, faculty, and residents. Gondola cabins would depart every minute, carrying more people up the mountain per hour than current bus services and in about half the time. 

Route two would have been Production Way - University Station, also to the SFU bus exchange but with an angle station located east of the bend in Gaglardi Way. Route three saw the option of Lake City Way Station suggested (with an angle station located on the eastern side of Centennial Way and Burnaby Mountain Parkway) to south of South Campus Way. 

TransLink’s concept designs for the route anticipate only five towers along the entire route, with no towers in the Forest Grove neighbourhood. Many Forest Grove residents have expressed opposition to the project due to such concerns as noise and a loss of privacy.

According to a previous City of Burnaby report, Forest Grove residents have expressed concerns about the following specific aspects of the project: 

  • Noise, privacy, visual presence, property impacts and compensation
  • System safety and objects falling from cabins
  • Environmental impacts including trees, streams and land
  • Exploring alternative transit solutions, including battery electric buses

"TransLink recognizes that many people in Forest Grove still have concerns about the project," the report states. 

"Some of these cannot be fully resolved until the project is at a more advanced stage of design, and funded. That is not possible at this time because it is currently a planning exercise; not a funded capital project." 

TransLink has previously said it 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.