OPINION: The best test

They say adversity is the best test of true character.  The response to the recent dramatic turn of events at the Sea to Sky Gondola has accentuated that proverb in spades. 

Hats off to the gondola management staff for demonstrating an exemplary level of leadership under intense pressure. 

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They have been accountable, transparent and proactive, starting with a prompt acknowledgement of the severity of the damage, without resorting to needless alarmism, and then providing timely updates for gondola passholders and the general public. 

As much as Squamish may be hardwired for adventure, this community also has a deeply rooted capacity to rise to the occasion when the going gets tough. In a gesture of goodwill, the Sea to Sky Gondola donated perishables to the Squamish Food Bank and Squamish Helping Hands.

On the heels of a job fair hosted by Tourism Squamish and the Squamish Chamber of Commerce, some local businesses will be hiring temporarily unemployed gondola workers.                                                                                                        

Several alternative attractions are extending perks to gondola season passholders. The Britannia Mining Museum is offering general admission tickets at half price, while the Westcoast Railway Heritage Park is giving adult/senior passholders a 50 per cent discount on tickets.  And that notable display of solidarity extends beyond the immediate vicinity of Squamish. Grouse Mountain is providing Sea to Sky Gondola passholders with complimentary download tickets until Nov. 30.

It is now common knowledge the RCMP have confirmed their preliminary assessment. The cable has been cut.

So we are left to ponder why anybody in their right mind would disable a highly popular venue which has attracted thousands of residents and visitors from all over the world?                                                                                        

The definitive answer to that question is still blowing in the Howe Sound wind and there has been no shortage of speculation online and in other media. But as gondola general manager Kirby Brown put it in a letter to the editor to The Chief, with the investigation in full swing, this community has two choices. We can “stay in that ugly place of recasting each other as suspects to see if the dirty shoe fits until we all feel a bit soiled.” Or instead, we can “set aside suspicion and let the police investigate…and not let our sense of self be tarnished by this whole mess.”

Everything considered, the situation could have been a lot worse than a severed steel cable and the destruction of an array of gondola cabins.  Moving forward, if all goes as planned, some time this coming spring the site will re-open.  Eventually, on any given day, the parking lot will be overflowing. Throngs of eager gondola patrons will navigate the Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge. They will congregate on the patio of the Summit Lodge and head out to the surrounding viewing platforms to get a better look at the spectacular place we have the privilege of calling home. In other words, it will be business as usual and for that we should all be thankful.

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