The new owner of Grouse Mountain Resort is preparing to make major investments to dramatically improve access to the mountain top attraction and visitor experience.
Operators have announced their intention to build a new gondola connecting the base and the parking lot at plateau level. A preliminary development application was recently submitted to the District of North Vancouver.
It would be a complete replacement for the blue tram built in 1966, which has rarely been used by visitors for decades and is currently mainly used only for freight and emergency situations.
The base terminal of the new gondola would be immediately to the west of the base terminal of the red tram built in 1976, which will be retained. The new gondola line – supported by 13 towers – would pass under the red tram, reaching its upper terminal immediately east of the chalet at the top of the mountain.
The gondola ride time is approximately 5.5 minutes each way, which is significantly shorter than the 10-15 minute red tram ride time.
Described as a âstate-of-the-art, world-class elevator,â the new gondola consists of 27 cabins, each cabin accommodating up to eight passengers. Unlike the existing trams, which use two large cabins, the gondola offers the ability to board continuously, which helps reduce waiting times and congestion. With only the use of the red tram, the mountain top lines for a descent can sometimes extend to the lumberjack show area during peak periods.
Grouse Mountain has been operating at 50% of its initial capacity since the Blue Streetcar ceased to be used for visitors, with the Red Streetcar only offering capacity of around 900 passengers per hour.
With the inclusion of the new gondola, the attraction would return to its original capacity, adding 1,000 passengers per hour for a final capacity of 1,900 passengers per hour combined on both the red tram and the gondola. Each of the two cabins of the red tram can accommodate up to approximately 100 passengers.
In addition to dramatically improving the customer experience, the new gondola provides much needed elevator redundancy in the event of potential mechanical failure, weather conditions and emergencies such as evacuation. The need for seasonal Grouse Mountain closures due to maintenance on the Red Streetcar would also be eliminated, most recently the weeklong closure in November 2020.
The new gondola should also allow a faster movement in the car parks.
The entire gondola project is budgeted for around $ 35 million and includes major upgrades to base facilities to improve the arrival experience.
Parking lots will be reconfigured to accommodate the gondola terminal, a new drop-off area for the resort’s free shuttle service to downtown Vancouver and sightseeing buses. The car park will also be enlarged, its capacity increasing by 193 additional parking spaces, from the existing 925 spaces to 1,118 spaces spread over four lots. Improvements will be made to the existing area for TransLink transit buses.
Existing configuration of the Grouse Mountain base area and parking lots:
Future configuration of the Grouse Mountain base area with the new gondola and expanded parking lots:
An environmental study carried out by the project consultants shows minimal impact, given that the route of the gondola is located in the existing tram corridor and in previously disturbed areas.
After approvals, construction is expected to take 18 months to be completed, with an opening slated for December 2023.
The blue tram will be completely decommissioned and removed as part of the project. Its state-of-the-art terminal is integrated with the chalet at the top of the mountain.
In early 2020, Grouse Mountain was acquired by Northland Properties Corporation, a Vancouver-based company owned by the Tom Gaglardi family. They own the NHL Dallas Stars, three restaurant chains (Moxie’s Grill & Bar, Chop Steakhouse & Bar, and Denny’s Restaurants) and more than 50 hotels across Canada, including the Sandman Hotel Group and The Sutton Place Hotels brands.
In addition, they own a number of ski resorts, including Revelstoke Mountain Resort and Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing, and are a key partner of Aquilini Investment Group in their plans to build the long-envisioned $ 3.5 billion Garibaldi. at Squamish Ski Resort.