This is an easy fix to ease NIMBY concerns about the SFU gondola

Chris Campbell

I received a letter to the editor responding to my recent column that said people opposed to the Burnaby SFU gondola project were, technically, NIMBYs.

The letter is signed by more than 30 residents who don’t want the gondola in their Forest Grove backyards. You can read the letter here, but it lists a bunch of reasons that include not wanting to disturb wildlife, although since the gondola is in the air and the wildlife live on the ground I’m not sure how they will be “disturbed.”

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The letter also refers to their previous opposition to the project and the things they “learned” in 2011 and 2014. Perhaps their reasoning based on conditions previously was sound, but I think it’s a mistake to keep referring to the way things were five to eight years ago.

Things have changed a lot since then. For one thing, the UniverCity development – where I live – has exploded and will eventually hit the 10,000-resident mark, on top of thousands of people who work and study at SFU each day. The strain on the bus system has reached a breaking point, as well as the damage to the environment those many buses do.

SFU GONDOLA BROCHURE
The cover of a brochure put together by Simon Fraser University about the gondola project. SCREENSHOT

So the gondola opponents need to do some fresh research and stop referring to things from 2011.

But it’s one complaint that I want to focus on here. Gondola opponents referred to their privacy in their letter and that’s an interesting one. They basically fear gondola users staring into their backyards or homes while coming up and down Burnaby Mountain.

I’m not sure of the exact height of the gondola, but I’m figuring it’s quite a distance in the air so I’m not sure what users would actually be able to see below them.

But here’s an easy fix TransLink could implement to ease the concerns of residents. Just add some sort of tinted window to make it more difficult to see the area below. You could leave the top half of the windows clear to allow light, but darken the bottom half. The tinting will be needed to block out harsh, hot sunlight so the gondolas don’t become like the sweatbox in Cool Hand Luke.

This seems like an easy fix.

You see, that’s all part of the process of a project like this. Residents give their concerns and project managers work on solutions.

Unfortunately, the gondola opponents have decided to just immediately oppose every aspect of the project without discussing what TransLink has in mind this time around.

I’m still doubtful this project will even happen. I don’t know if there’s enough momentum to get it, ahem, off the ground.

I live in the UniverCity development, but I don’t have a personal stake in this. I have a five-minute commute and need my care every day for work on assignments so I doubt I would ever use it.

It’s an interesting idea, but will be looking forward to more details as things progresss.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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