Prairie Sky is hoping to build a gondola in Edmonton that integrates into the city’s transit system. The gondola would travel from Whyte Ave to a location near the Rossdale Power Plant in only 12 minutes. It’s also supposed to be a lower impact to the environment 0.1 kWh/km per passenger. Prairie Sky also claims that is is not asking for the city of Edmonton to fund the $150 million project, but instead will pay for it out of pocket. Sounds like a good deal right?
For a majority of the council members this is a good deal. Jon Dzyiadyk had voted in favor of the development for quite a few different reasons.. The Buffalo Tribune was able to get in touch with him to further understand his position. His assistant responded with the following reasons:
1. There are zero taxpayer funds going towards this project.
fails so the city will not be on the hook to take over or to remove the structures.
2. It is not up to the government to determine if a private business will be feasible or
3. This is just one out of 14 more checkpoints for the project before anything gets built.
4. This step allows Prairie Sky to spend another $8 million of their own money to get more information for council, it was not a "build approval".
5. This project will create over 800 jobs during and 80 permanent jobs after construction, provide $1 million in yearly tax revenue for the city, and will see a $150 million private investment in the City.
6. Prairie Sky also has to set aside securities for deconstruction in case the business not, but Council put in place protections to ensure the taxpayer will not be on the hook in case it fails.
Mr. Dziadyk voted in favor of letting them continue to do work to ensure the project is feasible. If the project turns out that they need a dime of City money, he will not be voting for it.
Other members of council aren’t sure this deal is worth the risk. Couns. Mike Nickel hasn’t trusted the idea since the very first proposal. In a twitter posted he said “So I’ve been told the gondola is only using private money… then why do they want to “integrate” with our public transit? And how much money will this “integration” cost?” He also states that Prairie Sky’s “business plan is private” which doesn’t make any sense.
As far as cost goes, the gondola is said to cost $8.5 million to operate every year.
In another wonderfully cheeky tweet Nickel posted a screenshot that showed he was blocked by Prairie Sky and was not allowed to follow them on twitter. His response was, “Hi Prairie Sky, are questions about your financial feasibility off limits? It would be helpful if you made your business plan public (the one with $0 in taxpayer money). Also what does “integrate” with YEG transit mean… transfer payments (public money) from ETS?”
It looks as though Mike Nickel might actually be onto something with all the secrecy surrounding Prairie Sky’s end of the deal. Thankfully he is standing firm on the fact that this is one risk he does not want Edmonton taxpayers to worry about at this already stressful time.
Councilor Paquette post to Facebook:
Time and time again I hear from Edmontonians with a passion for protecting one of our greatest assets--our beautiful ribbon of green at the heart of our city. Our River Valley bylaw requires that any development must prove an essential need. On that, I feel the project has missed the mark.
One side of the spectrum it is raining and the other side is sunny from council members it appears, hopefully in days to come there will be more financial details with this Gondola debate.