Burnaby Mountain Gondola: Phase 2 Public Engagement

The second round of public engagement for the Burnaby Mountain Gondola project concluded on December 14, 2020. Thank you to everyone who took the time to provide us with feedback.

TransLink is advancing the planning and project development of a gondola on Burnaby Mountain — a proposed transit option that would provide fast, frequent, and reliable service between the SkyTrain and Burnaby Mountain.

Currently, over 25,000 daily trips up Burnaby Mountain are made by SFU students, staff, faculty, and residents of UniverCity. During peak hours, existing bus service is at capacity, with TransLink customers frequently being passed by full buses.

The second round of public engagement for the Burnaby Mountain Gondola project concluded on December 14, 2020. Thank you to everyone who took the time to provide us with feedback.

TransLink is advancing the planning and project development of a gondola on Burnaby Mountain — a proposed transit option that would provide fast, frequent, and reliable service between the SkyTrain and Burnaby Mountain.

Currently, over 25,000 daily trips up Burnaby Mountain are made by SFU students, staff, faculty, and residents of UniverCity. During peak hours, existing bus service is at capacity, with TransLink customers frequently being passed by full buses. The delays are made worse in inclement weather, when buses have been known to stall in ice and snow. Combined, these challenges increase travel times up and down the mountain from 15 minutes to more than 30 minutes.

The 3S Gondola system has been identified by TransLink as the preferred technology to reduce travel times up and down Burnaby Mountain and meet future projected demand.

Phase One Engagement

From Tuesday, September 1 to Wednesday, September 30, 2020, TransLink provided information about three route options for the proposed Burnaby Mountain Gondola and sought feedback from the public and stakeholders. During this time, there was a total of 13,173 public and stakeholder interactions, including completed surveys, submissions via email and phone calls, and five community engagement sessions. For more details view the full Phase One Stakeholder and Public Engagement Summary Report.

For details about how we chose the three proposed gondola routes and the elements we considered as part of our design work, please view the TransLink Burnaby Mountain Gondola page.



Consultation has concluded
  • Preliminary Route Evaluation

    16 Nov 2020
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    Overview

    We have completed the preliminary route evaluation of the three potential routes connecting the SkyTrain to Burnaby Mountain. We evaluated each route on three main factors: project benefits, costs, and implementation considerations.

    Project benefits are the main reasons for considering the proposed gondola. They would improve the current transportation experience.

    Costs include the cost to build and operate the gondola.

    Implementation considerations include the requirements that are needed to deliver the Burnaby Mountain Gondola. These are the trade-offs that would need to happen to achieve the benefits of the gondola. Impacts from the trade-offs would be mitigated where possible.

    Preliminary Route Evaluation Report (PDF)

    Appendix 1 - Phase One Stakeholder and Public Engagement Summary Report (PDF)

    Appendix 2 - Neighbourhood Considerations Analyses (PDF)

    Appendix 3 - Environmental Considerations Analyses (PDF)

    Appendix 4 - Safety Considerations (PDF)


    Proposed Burnaby Mountain Gondola Routes


    Summary of route evaluation:

    Benefits


    Route 1

    Route 2

    Route 3

    Transportation user experience

    Most transit and auto travel time savings, greatest number of SFU buildings within a 5-minute walk

    Second most transit and auto travel time savings

    Least transit and auto travel time savings

    Sustainable transportation

    Greatest boardings and most GHG emission offsets

    Second greatest boardings and second most GHG emission offsets

    Lowest boardings and least GHG emission offsets


    Financial Considerations


    Route 1

    Route 2

    Route 3

    Costs

    Lowest capital, operating and maintenance cost

    Highest capital, operating, and maintenance cost

    Second lowest capital, operating, and maintenance cost


    Implementation Considerations


    Route 1

    Route 2

    Route 3

    Neighbourhood

    Visual impacts to Forest Grove neighbourhood. Gondola would pass directly over two properties.

    Visual impacts to Rathburn neighbourhood

    Visual impacts to Meadowood neighbourhood

    Environment

    Lowest environmental and land disturbance impacts

    Tied for highest environmental and land disturbance impacts

    Tied for highest environmental and land disturbance impacts

    Utilities

    Most favourable geotechnical conditions, no significant utility conflicts

    Average geotechnical conditions, conflict with high-voltage transmission lines

    Poor geotechnical conditions, proximity to Trans Mountain right-of-way




  • Benefits

    16 Nov 2020
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    Transportation User Experience

    Transportation user experience includes the travel time savings for transit users and drivers, and access to the top terminals from SFU buildings. To understand the transportation user benefits, TransLink’s team conducted a forecasting analysis.

    Transit travel time savings

    Route 1: 13% faster travel time than bus (48 min vs. 55 min)

    Route 2: 9% faster travel time than bus (50 min vs. 55 min)

    Route 3: same travel time as bus (55 min)

    Reduction in daily road congestion (hours/day)

    Route 1: -700 hours of congestion

    Route 2: -660 hours of congestion

    Route 3: -490 hours of congestion

    Classrooms and other buildings within a 5-minute walk of the upper terminal

    Routes 1 and 2: 80% of classrooms buildings and 30% of other buildings

    Route 3: 52% of classrooms buildings and 45% of other buildings

    Map of top terminal walking maps (PDF)

    Findings: Route 1 has the most transit and auto travel time savings and greatest number of SFU buildings within a 5-minute walk of the upper terminal.


    Sustainable Transportation

    Sustainable transportation includes the long-range benefits of the gondola, including how many people would use the gondola annually (measured in boardings) and the reduction in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by mode switch (people switching from driving to taking the gondola).

    Weekday Transit Boardings

    Transit boardings are driven mainly by the travel time on the route and the frequency of the service. The shorter the travel time and the more frequent the service the more boardings a route will have. Route 1 has an estimated travel time of 6 minutes, Route 2 is estimated at 10 minutes, and Route 3 is estimated at 11 minutes. In peak periods gondola cabins will be arriving about every minute.

    Daily combined boardings (to/from Burnaby Mountain) Route 1 Route 2 Route 3
    2035 30,400 28,200 25,400
    2050 36,700 34,700 31,400


    Reduction in GHG emissions from mode switch

    Route 1: 1,400 tonne reduction in GHG emissions

    Route 2: 1,300 tonne reduction in GHG emissions

    Route 3: 800 tonne reduction in GHG emissions

    Current bus service (that the gondola would replace) emits 3,700 tonnes of GHG emissions annually. While TransLink has adopted the Low Carbon Fleet Strategy to electrify its fleet, it is only partially funded. The gondola project could accelerate achieving emissions targets. It would also avoid the costs of building the necessary electric charging infrastructure and purchase of battery buses to serve the area. Instead, those resources would be available to electrify services elsewhere on the network.

    Findings: Route 1 would generate the most boardings and offset the most carbon emissions of the three proposed route options.

  • Costs

    16 Nov 2020
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    The gondola capital cost includes gondola infrastructure (cabins, terminals, towers, angle stations) and property costs (aerial rights and land required for infrastructure). The operating and maintenance costs include the cost to operate (labour, energy) and maintain the system (routine maintenance and rehabilitation).

    Capital costs for gondola infrastructure and property acquisition

    Route 1: $210 million

    Route 2: 13% more than Route 1

    Route 3: 10% more than Route 1

    As a comparison, we have routine capital costs associated with bus operation as we replace them every 15 years. The capital costs associated with the gondola system are for 30 years. In a 30-year period, we anticipate we could spend upwards of $77.5 million on bus replacements.

    Operating and maintenance costs

    Route 1: $5.6 million (30% less than bus service)

    Route 2: $7.2 million (8% less than bus service)

    Route 3: $7.2 million (8% less than bus service)

    As a comparison, we spend $7.8 million per year on operating and maintaining bus.

    Findings: Route 1 has the lowest capital, operating, and maintenance costs.

  • Implementation Considerations

    16 Nov 2020
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    Implementation considerations include the requirements needed to deliver the Burnaby Mountain Gondola. These are the trade-offs that are needed to achieve the benefits of the gondola. Impacts from the trade-offs would be mitigated where possible.

    Neighbourhood considerations

    Through public feedback, particularly that from local residents, we heard that noise, privacy, visual presence, property impacts, and safety of the system were key considerations. We evaluated the three gondola routes against these considerations to understand the amount of change that might occur.

    Noise

    Gondola systems produce noise at terminals, towers, and angle stations. There are towers and an angle station proposed near the communities of Forest Grove, Rathburn, and Meadowood. We measured existing background noise levels and used modelling to assess the potential change in noise levels (decibels) attributed to the gondola. (As a comparison, SkyTrain noise can range from 65-90 decibels.)

    Findings: No perceptible increase in neighbourhood noise (i.e., less than 1 decibel increase). Gondola is quieter than existing background noise levels.

    Noise Memo (PDF)


    Privacy

    Privacy is a measure of the separation between gondola users and residences and industrial/office buildings. We have done a privacy analysis to better understand the separation between gondola users and residences and industrial/office buildings. To measure privacy, we applied a 30.5 metres (100 foot) line of sight separation from residential and industrial buildings to the gondola. This distance is used by the City of Burnaby to plan the separation of new high-rise buildings.

    Findings:

    Route 1: lowest privacy impact, followed by Route 3.

    Route 2: greatest privacy impact with 12 residential units at UniverCity, 1 future mixed-use residential area at SFU, and 3 industrial/office properties.

    Route 3: slightly higher privacy impacts than Route 1 as it impacts a larger industrial area.

    Potential mitigation: In a future design phase TransLink would review the use of tinted window features in gondola cabins to support privacy.

    Privacy Impact Analysis (PDF)

    Neighbourhood Privacy - Route 1 - Forest Grove Drive - Gaglardi Way (PDF)

    Neighbourhood Privacy - Route1 - Forest Grove Elementary - Mountainside (PDF)

    Neighbourhood Privacy - Route 1 - Simon Fraser Village - Ran Beamish Place (PDF)

    Neighbourhood Privacy - Route 2 (PDF)

    Neighbourhood Privacy - Route 3 (PDF)


    Visual presence

    When the gondola system is operating, gondola cabins will be visible from the ground. To measure visual presence, we calculated the number of units within 100 metres of the gondola. (Due to the variability of the local topography and trees the visibility of the gondola may be reduced.)

    Route 1: 250 units in 4 multi-family properties; no single-family properties

    Route 2: 290 units in 7 multi-family properties; 7 single-family properties

    Route 3: No multi-family properties; 13 single-family properties

    Findings: Route 3 had the lowest visual presence impact, followed by route 1.

    Potential mitigation: In a future design phase, TransLink would explore the minimization of the visual presence of the gondola by locating gondola cabins above the tree canopy and using local topography.

    Neighbourhood Visual Presence Analysis (PDF)


    Property impacts

    Within 20 metres of the gondola right-of-way there may be aerial or infrastructure (ground) property impacts. We reported property requirements for residential, office and industrial, and other properties, including the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area, parks, Burnaby Mountain Golf Course, and SFU lands.


    Residential

    Industrial or Office

    Other Total Area

    Route 1

    2 multi-family properties
    Total area: 3,778 m2 (aerial only)

    9 properties
    Total area: 9,488 m2
    Infrastructure: 1,423 m2
    Aerial: 8,066 m2

    15,446 m2*
    Infrastructure: 1,940 m2
    Aerial: 13,506 m2

    Route 2

    0 properties

    4 properties
    Total area: 10,225 m2
    Infrastructure: 1,199 m2
    Aerial: 9,027 m2

    16,104 m2
    Infrastructure: 4,211 m2
    Aerial: 11,893 m2

    Route 3

    0 properties

    7 properties
    Total area: 12,758 m2
    Infrastructure: 1,140 m2
    Aerial: 11,618 m2

    36,567 m2
    Infrastructure: 4,750 m2
    Aerial: 31, 817 m2


    Potential mitigation: If the gondola is approved and funded in the future, TransLink would provide fair compensation to affected property owners.

    Findings: Route 1 had the lowest overall property impacts, but it does impact two residential properties.


    Safety of the system

    TransLink is working to assess potential risks for communities along the routes to ensure a safe and secure system. Considerations include potential vandalism, ice bombs, operation in high winds, seismic resilience (earthquakes), and objects thrown out of the cabins.

    • Vandalism: The system would come with strong security measures in place to monitor the integrity of the gondola, similar to what is in place for SkyTrain, and the towers would be designed to prevent unauthorized access. Read the Vandalism Memo for more details.

    • Ice formation: It would be quite unlikely for the gondola cables to ice-up, given the cabins move continuously. If ice was to form while the lift is operating, it would come off at the towers as the cabins pass, but in very small particles, similar to snow. If any ice formed overnight, onsite maintenance staff would take steps to mitigate the ice formation (e.g. operating the lift at slow speed with reduced cabins overnight).

    • Operation in high winds: Gondolas can safely operate in winds of up to 100 km/hr. In high winds, the operating speed slows.

    • Earthquake resilient design: The seismic resilience of infrastructure is related to its design and construction and the soil stability (geotechnical conditions). The gondola system would be designed and built to be seismically resilient and a detailed geotechnical evaluation would occur at a future design phase (if the gondola is approved and funded).

    • Objects thrown out of cabins: Cabin windows would not open, so passengers could not throw things out the window.


    Environment

    We reviewed the potential environmental impacts of the gondola including land, water, and critical habitat impacts.

    Three land categories were assessed:

    Impacts to Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area and parkland

    The Burnaby Mountain Park and Conservation system consists of the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area, Naheeno Park, Simon Fraser University Lands, and the Forest Grove Conservation area. The City of Burnaby has ownership of most of this area and is continuing to acquire the remaining public lands. The size of the total impacted land area is as follows:

    Route 1: 19,779 m2

    Route 2: 36,768 m2

    Route 3: 57,455 m2 (Note: substantial overlap with Burnaby Mountain Golf Course)

    Findings: Route 1 has the least impact on the BMCA and parkland.

    Impacts to Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area and Parkland Map (PDF)


    Land disturbance area

    Land disturbance has been used to measure accidental archaeological discovery and intrusion into Indigenous cultural use areas. An Archaeological Overview Assessment, which includes Preliminary Field Reconnaissance, is ongoing.

    The area of anticipated land disturbance include:

    Route 1

    • Structures: 725 m2

    • Access road: 0 m

    Route 2

    • Structures: 2,474 m2

    • Access road: 7,415 m2

    Route 3

    • Structures: 2,733 m2

    • Access road: 990 m2

    Findings: Route 1 resulted in the lowest land disturbance area.

    Land Disturbance Map (PDF)


    Tree removal

    As the gondola crosses the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area (BMCA) and has towers or angle stations located within it, tree clearing will be required. Permanent tree removal is required for gondola towers and angle stations. In addition, angle stations also require the area immediately before and after the station to be kept free from trees to allow the gondola to descend and ascend from the station. We measured the approximate numbers of trees required for clearing:

    Route 1: 220 trees

    Route 2: 1,100 trees

    Route 3: 1,330 trees

    Tree Loss Map (PDF)

    Findings: Route 1 has the lowest impacts to trees.


    Waterways and riparian areas

    Burnaby Mountain has a dense network of waterways and riparian areas.

    Waterways (also watercourses) are commonly referred to as streams, or a source of water supply, whether they usually contain water or not. They can be a pond, lake, river, creek, brook, ditch, and a sprint or wetland that is integral to a stream and provides fish habitat.

    Riparian areas include the area next to a stream that may be subject to temporary, frequent or seasonal flooding, and supports plant species that are typical of such an area.

    There are three principle stream systems that originate from the top of Burnaby Mountain: Eagle Creek, Silver Creek, and Stoney Creek. Within these systems there are provincially classified Class A and Class B waterways and riparian areas. Class A waterways are fish-bearing and Class B are non-fish-bearing but provide food and nutrients. Class A and Class B waterways and riparian areas overlap, so the total impacted area includes:

    Route 1:

    • 0 m2 of Class A waterways and riparian areas impacted
    • 8 m2 of Class B waterways and riparian areas impacted

    Route 2:

    • 7,464 m2 of Class A waterways and riparian areas impacted
    • 5,681 m2 of Class B waterways and riparian areas impacted

    Route 3:

    • 0 m2 of Class A waterways and riparian areas impacted
    • 6,490 m2 of Class B waterways and riparian areas impacted

    Findings: Route 1 had the least impact to waterways and riparian areas compared to Route 2 and Route 3.

    Waterways and Riparian Areas Map (PDF)


    Critical habitat

    We have identified that there is potential for Western Painted Turtle Pacific Coast (Western Painted Turtle) critical habitat along the gondola routes. A field-based survey would be required to confirm usage of the identified critical habitat. The Western Painted Turtle is classified as “Endangered” by the federal Species at Risk Act and “Red” by the provincial Wildlife Act.

    Route 1: No impact to Western Painted Turtle critical habitat

    Route 2: 9,344 m2

    Route 3: 580 m2

    Findings: Route 1 does not impact identified Western Painted Turtle critical habitat, whereas both Route 2 and 3 have some impact.

    Critical Habitat Map (PDF)


    Safety

    The placement of gondola infrastructure is also constrained by geotechnical conditions, the presence of significant utilities, and risks from external safety hazards.

    Geotechnical site stability for towers and terminals

    We have done a preliminary assessment of the potential for geohazards (landslide, faults, and erosion), slope stability, and foundation conditions.

    Route 1: Crosses through landscapes that have no historical evidence of landslide features. There is no evidence of rock avalanche zones near the proposed route.

    Route 2: There is potential for landslide between University Drive East and Gaglardi Way, as there are steep slopes present in this area. There is no evidence of rock avalanche zones near the alignment.

    Route 3: Crosses through landscapes that have no historical evidence of landslide features. There is no evidence of rock avalanche zones near the proposed route.

    Findings: Route 1 has the best geotechnical conditions.


    Significance of utilities conflicts

    This measure relates to the presence of utilities and the level of potential conflict between the utilities and the gondola.

    Route 1 would cross BC Hydro low voltage power lines at two points along its route. In both instances, the gondola would be separated from the power lines by at least 20 m. Route 1 would cross a Fortis pipeline, but no infrastructure intrusion is proposed in the pipeline right-of-way.

    Route 2 would cross over low voltage power lines immediately before reaching the angle station. These low voltage power lines may need to be moved underground to support the gondola design. Immediately after the angle station, the gondola would cross under high voltage power lines, with an 8 m clearance between the gondola cable and power lines. TransLink’s ropeway designer indicated that it is unclear whether this is sufficient. However, it may be possible to lift the high voltage power lines to allow the gondola to pass safely underneath. This would increase the design complexity, cost, construction timeline, and may require tree clearing/land disturbance. Further study at a future stage would be required to understand the constraints and potential mitigations.

    Route 3 would require moving low voltage power lines underground to accommodate the angle station. In addition, construction has started on the Burnaby Mountain Tunnel connecting Westridge Marine Terminal Port with the Burnaby Trans Mountain’s Burnaby Mountain storage terminal. TransLink’s ropeway designer indicated that it is unclear whether the angle station may need to be moved to avoid the Burnaby Mountain Tunnel as the right-of-way may overlap with the angle station. Further study at a future stage would be required to understand whether the angle station could be moved. Engagement with Trans Mountain would be required.

    Findings: Route 1 does not have any significant utilities conflicts, whereas both Route 2 and 3 have conflicts that would require additional study.


    Risks from external safety hazards

    This measure relates to the potential risk to the gondola system from external safety hazards. These may include a hazardous event at the Burnaby Mountain storage terminal (e.g. a fire) or the potential for transfer of electrical current to the gondola system from high voltage power lines.

    Should the Burnaby Mountain Gondola advance for further consideration we would engage with Trans Mountain and/or BC Hydro to better understand mitigations and safety protocols.

    Route 1 Route 1 would continue to operate within an acceptable risk level

    Route 2 the high voltage power lines that Route 2 needs to pass under present a risk to the gondola system if they are not modified.

    Route 3 is located the closest to the Burnaby Terminal. Trans Mountain has informed TransLink that they have concerns with the safety and security of Route 3.

    Findings: Route 1 has the lowest risk from external safety hazards.

    Letter from Trans Mountain (PDF)


    Vandalism

    The system would come with strong security measures in place to monitor the integrity of the gondola, similar to what is in place for SkyTrain, and the towers would be designed to prevent unauthorized access. Read the Vandalism Memo for more details.