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Strong support for Okanagan Gondola project, but traffic concerns persist

The project will go to a third reading on Oct. 18
A design concept of the Okanagan Gondola, proposed by developers Ridge North America. (Ridge North America photo)

The developers of the proposed Okanagan Gondola say a public hearing showed strong support for the project, despite concerns about traffic safety were it to be constructed.

Ridge North America — the developer behind the Golden Skybridge, Canada’s highest suspension bridge — has proposed building a gondola 1,600 feet above Kalamalka Lake across from the Okanagan Rail Trail near Bailey Road and Vernon’s Predator Ridge community.

Hailed by the developers as a future boon for local tourism, the multi-million dollar project would feature zip lines, restaurants, retail outlets, an outdoor light show area, wedding and event venues, tree forts, a playground, a plaza, an amphitheatre, trails and more.

A public hearing at the Regional District of North Okanagan headquarters on Thursday afternoon was marked by “enthusiastic participation and robust discussions” as well as strong support, Rav Soomal, vice president of Ridge North America, said in a press release Thursday.

At the public hearing, Soomal and Ridge North America CEO Paul Deutsch presented information about the project alongside their consultant team, providing an overview of its design, benefits and anticipated impact on the community.

“We are thrilled to be creating a family-friendly attraction that will be enjoyed by people of all demographics. The Okanagan Gondola will not only provide breathtaking views but also offer a space for relaxation, recreation, and unforgettable memories. Our team is committed to crafting an experience that harmonizes with the natural beauty of the region while contributing to its economic growth,” Soomal said.

“We see the Okanagan Gondola as a natural extension of our commitment to creating exceptional attractions that showcase the beauty and wonder of Canada’s landscapes. The success of the Golden Skybridge has reinforced our dedication to innovation and sustainability, and we are excited to bring this same spirit to the Okanagan Gondola.”

Also in attendance was Mike Overend, director of destination development for the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, who highlighted the potential for the attraction to draw visitors to the region.

Brad Pelletier, senior vice president of Predator Ridge, was also in attendance and voiced his “unwavering support” for the project and the alignment of its objectives with the growth of the local economy, according to the release.

While Soomal says a majority of attendees expressed their excitement for the project, some raised concerns about traffic safety, echoing concerns that were expressed at a previous public hearing in April 2022. At that time, there were concerns among Predator Ridge residents that the intersection of Bailey Road and Highway 97 would become even more dangerous than it already is if the Okanagan Gondola were to be built, as the tourist destination would lead to more traffic at the intersection.

“These concerns were duly noted, and the project’s proponents emphasized their commitment to addressing such issues through comprehensive planning and collaboration with relevant authorities,” the release stated.

The Okanagan Gondola project is now scheduled for its third reading on Oct. 18.

“This milestone will mark another significant step toward making the Okanagan Gondola a reality, bringing a new era of tourism, recreation, and economic vitality to the picturesque region,” reads the release.

“As the project advances, Ridge North America remains dedicated to engaging with the community, addressing concerns, and refining the proposal to ensure a harmonious integration of the Okanagan Gondola into the natural landscape and the lives of the people it will serve.”

READ MORE: Nearby residents have their say on proposed Okanagan Gondola project

READ MORE: Resort hotel and village proposed on Okanagan Lake in Vernon

Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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