Gondola aims to solve James Bay cruise conundrum

An urban gondola between Ogden Point and the Inner Harbour is sparking the curiosity of James Bay residents.

An urban gondola between Ogden Point and the Inner Harbour is sparking the curiosity of traffic-fatigued residents of James Bay.

Hopeful developers of the concept, known as the Victoria Skyride Gondola, are pitching two routes to James Bay residents tonight to garner early public feedback.

“That’s the first step, informing residents about our project and giving them an opportunity to see the drawings firsthand and give us their comments,” said Geoff Pearce, Skyride president and a municipal consultant.

The first route would see 14 towers, 22 metres in height, installed the length of Montreal Street and terminate at Quebec Street. The second proposed route, with 15 towers down Oswego Street, is preferred as gondola cars would terminate at the Belleville Street wharves, Pearce said. Each gondola tower would require roughly the area of a parking space, while rides would likely run $10 roundtrip.

“We definitely will require some rezonings,” Pearce said. “From a conceptual point of view, (the City of Victoria and Greater Victoria Harbour Authority) aware of that. But we need to have some decisions as to which corridor we’re going to pursue before we move forward.”

Should the project move forward, Pearce is partnering with Whistler-based gondola manufacturer Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners. He estimates manufacturing costs would be between $10 million to $12 million.

“What that doesn’t include is the foundation work, landscaping, geotechnical, the hard and soft cost with the city,” he said. “But we’re not trying to bulldoze this through. … We are really trying to make this work in the best interest of the community.”

Marg Gardiner, James Bay Neighbourhood Association president, said the gondola could be a novel solution to the long-standing traffic problem brought on by increased cruise ship traffic.

“These things are 70 feet up, and they’re going quite quickly so privacy wouldn’t be an issue,” she said. “And the noise would be significant less than vehicles. … It’s more an issue of use of land use and whether someone wants a pole in front of their property.”

Pearce will present the concept today (Dec. 11) at the James Bay Athletic Association, 205 Simcoe St., at 3 p.m., and at New Horizons activity centre, 234 Menzies St., at 6:30 p.m.

See the concepts at victoriaskyride.com.

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