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Red Deer still considering a gondola over downtown river

Edmonton discontinues its gondola plans
Prairie Sky Gondola wants to build a gondola ropeway, or cable system, in Red Deer. (Image contributed by Prairie Sky Gondola)

Red Deer continues to explore the idea of installing a gondola over the Red Deer River between Capstone and Bower Ponds, meanwhile Edmonton has pulled support for its gondola project.

Edmonton city council overwhelming voted to terminate its agreement with the same gondola developer earlier this week due to concerns about financial risks to the city and controversy around building on the Rossdale Burial Site, an Indigenous burial ground.

The project was first discussed in Edmonton in 2018.

About a year ago, Prairie Sky Gondola brought forward an unsolicited proposal to the City of Red Deer with a plan to install a gondola to travel over the river from a station located immediately northeast of the Canada 150 Square in Capstone to the southwest edge of Bower Ponds adjacent to the existing trail network.


One of a kind tourism attraction in central Alberta proposed for Red Deer

The next meeting between Prairie Sky and Red Deer on the $25-million, privately-funded project will be held next week.

Bre Fitzpatrick, economic development officer with the city and its project lead on the gondola, said the Red Deer and Edmonton projects are two separate projects. Red Deer will determine what happens here.

“It has to be a Red Deer fit,” Fitzpatrick said.

“We’ve been following the work in Edmonton closely and the learnings that they have observed through their project and process. We’re still advancing the work with Prairie Sky Gondola and we’re working to properly do our due diligence on the project with them.”

She said the project does check a lot of boxes. It could create a fun, affordable new tourism destination for the city, showcase the natural beauty of the river, interact with some of the existing transportation infrastructure, and bring new and additional customers to the Capstone area to support existing businesses, inspire new ones, and further development.

“Red Deer is open for business and we work to find ways to balance expressing the natural beauty of our community while seizing unique, catalytic opportunities for the community and our citizens.”


Capstone Night Market to run second market on August 19

A memorandum of understanding has not yet been signed with Prairie Sky Gondola to initiate the process to collaboratively undertake additional technical and commercial analysis.

Prairie Sky Gondola president Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson said his company is excited to focus on Red Deer.

“The technical and commercial fundamentals are there, but more importantly the political and investment climate is more courageous than in the bigger cities,” Hansen-Carlson said in a statement.

“Before we take bold steps to develop the project as we envision it, we will get to know everyone in Red Deer and hear their ideas to make Red Deer’s ropeway matter even more. We will be putting robust engagement first.”

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— with files from Canadian Press

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Susan Zielinski

About the Author: Susan Zielinski

Susan has been with the Red Deer Advocate since 2001. Her reporting has focused on education, social and health issues.
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