About this project
In 2014, the TransLink Mayors’ Council developed a 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver transit and transportation highlighting the need for a high-capacity connection from Burnaby Mountain to a nearby SkyTrain station.
The concept of a gondola linking Simon Fraser University (SFU) to a SkyTrain station has been the subject of three studies in the last decade. These studies suggest a gondola could deliver significant benefits over existing transit choices, including:
- shorter travel times
- more frequent departures
- increased ridership
- greater winter reliability
- reduced noise and emissions
SFU is the biggest transit destination in Burnaby that’s not on a SkyTrain line. Of the 10 busiest bus stops in the city, six service SFU. Today, there are 25,000 transit trips to or from the mountain every weekday. That is expected to rise as the campus and UniverCity community grow.
On May 27, 2019, Burnaby City Council provided support in principle for a gondola from SkyTrain to the top of Burnaby Mountain, a project proposed by TransLink. This support did not include endorsement of a specific alignment, and was subject to five core principles:
- Residents – minimize impacts to residents living near the gondola, at all stages of the project.
- Environment – minimize impacts to areas with high ecological value, including fish-bearing streams and surrounding riparian areas.
- Compensation – provide fair compensation to impacted property owners for intrusion of the gondola.
- Options – three route options should be considered on an equal basis in the next stage of analysis and public consultation. Option 3 should be reviewed with and without the extension of Expo Line operations to Lake City Way Station.
- Consultation – engage the community in meaningful consultation, especially regarding alignment options. And report back to Burnaby City Council on the results.
On July 12, 2021, Burnaby City Council received a report describing the outcomes of TransLink’s latest technical analyses and public consultation. TransLink found that the straight route from Production Way – University Station to SFU showed good financial performance, the highest societal benefits, lowest capital and operating costs, smallest footprint, best geotechnical conditions, fewest park impacts, and fewest environmental impacts. The other routes showed lower benefits and had significant impacts to forests, parklands, and fish-bearing streams. On the basis of this work, TransLink has stated that the straight route is their preferred alignment.
The public showed strong support for the straight route, except in one neighbourhood. The proposed gondola would pass over homes in the Forest Grove neighbourhood. Residents there have expressed concerns about noise, privacy, visual presence, property impacts, compensation, safety, and environmental impacts.
The City of Burnaby has endorsed the Route 1 option, a direct line between the SFU campus and the Production Way-University Station.
With the endorsement of Burnaby City Council, the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation will now consider the project for inclusion in the Mayors’ Council new 10-Year Vision, which will guide TransLink's priorities and investments for the next decade.