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CYNICAL SUNSHINE: Burn it, pave it, gondola it

I should not be typing this, but I am, and that scares me. "They want to fence off the 2nd peak of the Chief to put a gondola up there.

I should not be typing this, but I am, and that scares me. "They want to fence off the 2nd peak of the Chief to put a gondola up there."

I believe I'm right to be scared, since an idea that I would never consider more than a tasteless April Fool's joke has become a serious issue that needs to be seriously stopped.

But unlike most of the causes I undertake, this one is unique in that I can't find a single person who thinks it's a good idea. Try as I might, I simply can't find anyone to say "I want a gondola specifically up the Chief."

It all comes down to who will benefit. For starters, it will benefit Peter Alder. Peter's an old boy from way back that was wheeling and developing Whistler while Ted Nebbeling was just getting his feet wet in the delicious waters of big money and politics. I can only assume that's why Ted has stated he's in support of the project.

OK, so a longtime acquaintance of the BC Liberal party would benefit, that's reassuring, but who else? The chain stores operating at the base (and top?) will probably do a brisk business, but it appears that this project is in spite of, rather than for the community of Squamish. I even wonder if there will be people wanting to stop and ride when the world-famous Whistler gondola, complete with wildlife, is just another latte away.

Which brings us to the very sinister looking process in which this is being handled. I mean, come on: in this process to put a gondola up the Stawamus Chief there are considered to be four major stakeholders. Are you ready? There's the District of Squamish, the Squamish Nation, the Ministry of Transportation and the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Do you see anything odd about that list? Personally I want to know why in blue blazes an Olympic group that isn't even going to exist after six years is considered a major stakeholder. This whole time I thought that group was just a bunch of plush positions for old-school buddies.

So let's see: it appears Peter already has two of the four stakeholders in his back pocket, leaving only the District and the Squamish Nation to nod approval. I eagerly await the Squamish Nation's opinion, but I'm upset the District has remained relatively quiet on this issue. I hope our mayor and council take the very next opportunity to declare loudly and rightly that there is no way our community will ever support this project. This is not a climber's issue, this is a Squamish issue. I'm not a climber but I love the Chief like many do.

It's time to send the message loud and clear: a gondola proposal is more than welcome to our town - just stay the hell away from our Chief.

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