IG news Update,
Edmonton City Council decided to put the Prairie Sky Gondola project on hold for the time being.
On Monday, councilors voted 12-1 to obtain a land settlement with the company proposing the gondola as information only and not to approve the lease of the city’s land for the project.
Karen Principe was the only vote against receiving the proposed Prairie Sky Gondola land agreement as counts only reported.
Prairie Sky may reconsider the proposal but additional information will need to be submitted to reduce councilors’ concerns with the project.
The company wanted to build a 2.5-kilometer gondola from downtown to Old Strathcona, with no taxpayer money contributing to the project.
Several community members told the council last week that they were concerned about the project’s potential impact on the river valley and the land considered sacred by indigenous peoples in the Rossdale Flats.
Prairie Sky Gondola CEO Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson said in a statement that the company is “not intimidated” by the council’s decision.
“Maybe it’s time to revive the Edmonton project,” Hansen-Carlson said. “Cities need more big ideas for people to believe and more empowered city builders daring to do them.
“We are proud of what we did and are excited to find out what we can do next.”
A new standard for indigenous consultation
Count Anne Stevenson brought forward the proposal for land settlement to be received as information only.
Stevenson said she was initially skeptical of the project, but saw it as “an exciting idea” and a “domestic Edmonton initiative”.
“As we have gone through this process, however, it has become clear that this project has broader considerations and implications, particularly given the indigenous importance of the Rossdale site,” she said.
After hearing from concerned community members about the history and meaning that Rossdale held indigenous Edmontonians, Stevenson said there were other projects in the city to work on to advance reconciliation.
“It’s up to us to hold ourselves to the same standard that we’re discussing with regards to the gondola,” she said.
for the count. Sarah Hamilton, there are still other ways to experience the city and river valley as deeply as a high-end streetcar.
“The city doesn’t need another infrastructure project that doesn’t meet public expectations, privately or publicly funded,” Hamilton said.
“We also have, I think, a transit system, that we’re trying to live up to the expectations of the public, and I’ve always thought that, I was concerned that this (gondola) conversation was little more than the necessary improvements. What is different is what we need to make our transit system,” she said.
Mayor Amarjit Sohi said there was a “lack of clarity” in terms of the project’s business and the risks to the city including the environmental impact on the river valley and what would happen to the gondola infrastructure if Prairie Sky went bankrupt.
“I think they could have been sorted out if we went to the next phase (of the project),” Sohi said. “But one thing that is fundamental to me, which is the make and break on this, is the lack of authentic engagement with Indigenous communities.”
Sohi said that while the city had not given approval for the project at this time, Edmonton is still open for business for innovative projects.
“I know many companies and many projects that have moved forward with very meaningful consultations with indigenous communities,” he said. “If one is thinking that meaningful consulting is a hindrance to business growth, business growth, it is absolutely not the case.”
“Getting it in the know provides clarity for future investments that Edmontonians expect here as we want to live our value at reconciliation with indigenous communities.”
Hansen-Carlson said Prairie Sky is “clearly committed to Edmonton and all of its residents.”
“Truth and reconciliation are not mere words,” he said. “We wholeheartedly believe that those words should take precedence. And that was always our intention and it will be forever.”