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Burnaby Mountain Gondola

We want to hear from you!

The second round of public engagement for the Burnaby Mountain Gondola project is taking place between Nov. 23 and Dec. 14, 2020. We’ve done our evaluation of the three proposed routes and we want your feedback. Learn about our upcoming events and take the survey now!

About the Project

TransLink is advancing the planning and project development of a Burnaby Mountain Gondola. A 3S gondola would provide a fast, frequent, and reliable service between the SkyTrain and Burnaby Mountain for the 25,000 daily trips made by SFU students, staff, faculty, and residents of UniverCity. Gondolas are safe, smart and cost-effective and they provide commuters with an environmentally friendly mode of transit that runs on electricity helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Following public engagement in fall 2020, our goal is to present a preferred route and design to the Mayors’ Council so they can provide us with direction on next steps.

Phase One Engagement

The first round of public engagement for the Burnaby Mountain Gondola Project took place between September 1 and 30, 2020. During the engagement, we shared information about the three route options, including travel times, costs and environmental impacts, as well as neighbourhood interests. The following information details the technical work that had been done in advance of the engagement.

To learn about the public feedback we received, view the Phase One Stakeholder and Public Engagement Summary Report.

In 2020, we conducted a preliminary design of three routes:

  1. Production Way–University Station to SFU Bus Exchange

  2. Production Way–University Station to SFU Bus Exchange (with an angle station located east of the bend in Gaglardi Way)

  3. Lake City Way Station (with an angle station located on the eastern side of Centennial Way and Burnaby Mtn. Parkway) to south of South Campus Way

Proposed Routes for the Burnaby Mountain Gondola

Proposed Burnaby Mountain Gondola Routes


What is an angle station?

Gondola systems are restricted to straight lines. An angle station is a station along the route where gondola cabins can be redirected if a straight path of travel is not possible. The angle stations TransLink is proposing for Routes 2 and 3 would not allow for passenger boarding.

Design work has been guided by the City of Burnaby’s Core Principles, outcomes of an environmental scan, and local constraints (e.g., the presence of power lines). The purpose of this design work was to better understand how the potential gondola routes could operate in terms of travel times, local conditions, and other considerations. We are now in the process of evaluating the routes, which will be shared during our next phase of public engagement.

Gondola travel time is determined by the speed of travel, the total distance traveled, and the route alignment:

  • Speed: All three routes will travel at the same speed – 8 m per second or about 27 km per hr.

  • Distance: Route 1 is 2.7 km, Route 2 is 3.7 km, Route 3 is 3.6 km.

  • Alignments

    • Straight alignment: On Route 1, cabins travel directly between the top and bottom terminals.

    • Angle alignment: For Routes 2 and 3, non-boarding angle stations would be located midway along each route. Gondola systems are restricted to straight lines. An angle station is a station along the route where gondola cabins can be redirected if a straight path of travel is not possible. This process adds additional travel time to the journey. Angle stations are located on the ground so gondola cabins must travel down and up when entering and leaving the angle station. This means that the path to access the angle station must be clear for the gondola to safely enter and depart.

Lower gondola terminals would connect to or be located within a short walking distance of existing SkyTrain stations and overall journey travel times would factor in connections.

Routes 1 and 2 would connect to Production Way–University Station (Expo and Millennium Lines), whereas Route 3 would connect to Lake City Way (Millennium Line).

Trip Time to Burnaby Mountain

For comparison, we considered trip times between SFU’s campuses and their associated SkyTrain stations:

Trip Times to Burnaby Mountain

(Includes travel and transfer times during peak period travel)

  Route 1 Route 2 Route 3
SFU Surrey (Surrey Central Station) 30 min 34 min 42 min
SFU Vancouver (Waterfront Station) 43 min 45 min 43 min
SFU Great Northern Way (future Great Northern Way Station) 27 min 32 min 28 min

Compared to other modes of transportation (e.g., SkyTrain, roads), gondolas require a smaller infrastructure footprint that is limited to towers, top and bottom terminals, and angle stations, if needed. The angle stations and top terminals require the cabins to travel down and up at ground level, requiring a clear path of travel.

An initial environmental scan was undertaken to support the preliminary route design work. A more thorough environmental scan will take place in the next phase of work. (An Environmental Assessment would occur at a later stage in the process.) In our design work to date, we have placed gondola towers as close as possible in existing road rights-of-way and developed areas to minimize effects on sensitive habitats, including:

  • The Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area;

  • At-risk species’ habitats: The preliminary desktop environmental scan identified some at-risk species’ habitat areas. Future field work would confirm the presence and specific locations of these species. The gondola design would be refined, as appropriate;

  • Riparian areas and streams: Burnaby Mountain features a dense network of streams (many of them fish bearing), which feed into Stoney Creek;

  • Tree loss: Trees span much of the distance on the three routes, and the design purposefully passes above the tree line. In the next phase of design, we will work with an arborist to ensure that the gondola could continue to operate above a mature forest (i.e. allow for tree growth) without impact. Some tree loss would occur around potential angle stations since the gondola requires a clear path to safely travel down and up from the angle stations.

All three potential routes pass nearby the residential neighbourhoods of Forest Grove, Rathburn, or Meadowood. Route 1 would pass directly over top of two properties. We have been listening to local residents and are working to address their concerns by:

  • Tower presence:Placing gondola towers as far as technically feasible from neighbourhoods;

  • Aerial rights: Minimizing the number of residential properties over which the gondola passes. Where unavoidable, TransLink would compensate owners in exchange for a right-of-way. Discussions around compensation would occur according to established procedures from previous projects requiring land acquisition or right-of-ways;

  • Visual impact: Minimizing the visual presence of the gondola by locating gondola cabins above the tree canopy. Next steps include reviewing anticipated visual effects in greater detail;

  • Privacy: Reducing the ability of gondola passengers to see into homes by keeping the gondola high above homes (approx. 50 m) and exploring the use of tinted window features;

  • Noise: Locating towers and angle stations away from residential neighbourhoods to avoid noise. Cabins do not emit noise and only minimal sound is produced as the cabins pass over the tops of towers. Sound monitoring studies are underway to better understand existing background noise conditions in Forest Grove and the possible effects of a gondola in the area. A completed report will be available in a future phase of work.

  • Safety: Ensuring a system that is safe and secure for the communities along the route.

Two sites in the area undergoing a municipal redevelopment process are located near the proposed lower gondola terminals at Lake City Way and Production Way–University Stations. They are:

  • 3131 Lake City Way

  • 3100 Production Way

Through the gondola design process, we have attempted to minimize impacts or changes to the potential site designs.

Utilities constrain route designs because they are largely immovable. The following utilities are located along the routes:

  • Sewer lines: Metro Vancouver trunk sewer;

  • Power lines: BC Hydro operates lower voltage distribution lines and higher voltage transmission lines. The gondola would travel over lower voltage lines and under higher voltage lines;

  • Natural gas line: Fortis BC; and

  • Gas line: Trans Mountain.

Artistic rendering of the proposed Burnaby Mountain Gondola going up Burnaby Mountain

In 2020, we have done additional technical work to help inform our engagement with stakeholders, the public, and Indigenous groups. The results of this work have helped us evaluate the three proposed gondola routes, and update key information, such as ridership, cost, and benefits. This work is being shared during our second round of engagement between November 23 and December 14, 2020.

Pre-engagement (Jan. to Aug. 2020)

  • Listen to interests and concerns of stakeholders; do technical analysis to understand, avoid and mitigate possible impacts of route options.

  • Burnaby Mountain Gondola Engagement has finished this stage

Phase 1 Public Engagement (Sept. 1 to 30)

  • Request input on criteria to assess route options; share information about the route options and urban gondolas, generally.

  • Burnaby Mountain Gondola Engagement has finished this stage

Phase 2 Public Engagement (Nov. 23 to Dec. 14)

  • Share route assessment results; provide updates on route options following more technical work.

  • Burnaby Mountain Gondola Engagement is currently at this stage

Final Report (winter 2020)

  • Share the final report with Burnaby Council and the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation, including a route recommendation.

  • This is an upcoming stage for Burnaby Mountain Gondola Engagement

Investment Plan and Project Approval (early 2021)

  • For the project to proceed it must be included in an Investment Plan approved by the TransLink Board and Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation.

  • This is an upcoming stage for Burnaby Mountain Gondola Engagement

In 2014, the Mayors’ Council developed a 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transit and Transportation which noted that a high-capacity connection from Burnaby Mountain to a nearby SkyTrain station may be required, and that further investigation and consultation was needed.

In November 2016, the Phase One Investment Plan committed to updating a previous 2011 assessment of a gondola linking Production WayUniversity Station to SFU Square on Burnaby Mountain. This assessment determined that a gondola was a feasible solution for improving travel time, addressing reliability issues, meeting future travel demand, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2017, the merits of building a gondola were re-examined and we confirmed that there is still a compelling case for a gondola transit solution. For more details, view the updated Burnaby Mountain Gondola Transit feasibility study.

In May 2019, Burnaby City Council endorsed a recommendation that supports a gondola link from SkyTrain to the top of Burnaby Mountain, subject to several conditions. One such condition was to include the assessment of a third route option starting from Lake City Way Station, which has been done as part of the technical work throughout 2020.

Have your say on the Burnaby Mountain Gondola. Phase 2 of our public engagement runs from Nov. 23 to Dec. 14. To learn more about the project, check out the upcoming engagement events you can participate in, and to take the Phase 2 survey, please visit our Engagement Centre. You can also email us at or call 778.375.7220 with any questions.

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