Hay's Daze

Hay’s Daze: To Gondola or not to Gondola

Sarcasm. Cynicism. Satire. The three sisters of ironic contempt. Some people just love to mock and mimic, prod and poke, deride and decry – I know I do.

This brings me to a very important subject regarding downtown that has the whole city practically vibrating with dramatically opposing views. And by “whole city” I mean 250 or so people and by the “very important subject” I mean the proposal to build a bungee jump off of our famous water tower.

Just kidding about that last part, and I certainly don’t mean that OTHER downtown controversy of location-bungling in a classic case of NIMBY. I’m referring, of course, something imminently more significant – a city center gondola.

For those of you not within the approximately 250 persons who voted in the mighty Advocate, allow me to summarize. A company called Prairie Sky Gondola out of Edmonton is proposing to build a gondola over the R.D. river from Capstone to Bower Ponds, and possibly even back again. And 65 per cent of voters on the matter were anti-gondola. And in fact, the fight took to the pages of the paper.

Last Saturday, right there, side by each on page 11 the battle took center stage (well, center page). The illustrious stalwart long-time Advocator and newly minted Managing Editor Byron Hackett had a very well-thought-out and convincing piece supporting the idea of cruising across the sometimes roaring sometimes rippling river in a metal box on a wire. “Isn’t it worth a shot…?” he put out there. “There’s nothing wrong with a little excitement, a little enthusiasm for some outside-the-box projects.”

Directly underneath Mr. Hackett’s article was a rather brilliant letter to the editor from someone called David Gibbons which was positively burning with the three sisters of ironic contempt. Mr. Gibbons had many sarcastic, cynical and satirical things to say in protesting the very idea of cable cars littering our pristine skies downtown, including a “sensational view of hospital chimneys…” and “the charismatic avian feces-covered roof of Red Deer’s Superstore…”

The letter writer even thought at first the gondola idea was an April Fool’s day joke, and predicted, with more than a light sniff of scoff, scorn, and scurrilous-ness (the three cousins of ironic contempt) a “waterfall cascading from Michener Hill to Lindsay Thurber” and “zip-lining into Riverside Industrial Park from Parkland Mall”.

Now being just a freelance columnist of fluff and a bear of very little brain, I don’t want to take a side on this critical issue except to say that Mr. Gibbons and the 65 per cent of voters are slightly out there and completely wrong and probably hate Christmas, small children and obviously have never done anything remotely fun in their entire lives.

As you can see, I’m kind of on the fence on this one in that I’d be the first one to park my electric scooter that I got for my birthday and get in the front of the line for the inaugural gondola dangle. I would also make sure I had some pre-filled water balloons in my backpack to drop on the river floaters in their inflatables below as they drift under my “cabin”. (I hope the windows open in those things when they are built…)

I mean, really, someone finally comes up with a unique idea that won’t cost the city and its inhabitants a penny to build and might actually improve the downtown experience and bring a little amusement and mild adventure for residents and visitors and then some grumpy non-visionary curmudgeons scramble to poo-poo the possible potential of cable-car charisma.

But once the gondola is built I’m going to really push for the Michener Hill waterfall and the zip line from the mall.

Harley hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. You can send him column ideas to harleyhay@hotmail.com.