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Sea to Sky Gondola to reopen Valentine's Day

Operations resume earlier than expected after August sabotage with new security measures in place
The Sea to Sky Gondola will reopen on Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Rich Duncan/File photo

The Sea to Sky Gondola is set to reopen in a month, a little over half a year since its operations were brought to a halt when someone cut the gondola cable.

On Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, guests will be able to ride in 30 new cabins to Summit Lodge, 885 metres above the base of operations.

New security measures will also be in place, said Sea to Sky Gondola general manager Kirby Brown.

While Brown was advised not to go into detail about their security measures, he said they are "robust."

"The stuff we have put in already and are working on right now is absolutely state of the art," Brown said. "Some of it wasn't available to the consumer marketplace as early as last year. It's a massive investment in the ongoing security of the lift."

With the new cabins comes a new 4.4-kilometre haul line. Technical Safety BC will conduct a safety inspection in early February. Meanwhile, the RCMP investigation into who cut down the gondola on Aug. 10 is ongoing.

To those who may be hesitant to ride the gondola again, as the perpetrator has yet to be apprehended, Brown said those feelings are natural.

"People are very safe on these lifts," he said. "There are many thousands of them operating worldwide. This is a unique event, and while we haven't caught the person, certainly the deterrents we've put in place and the security system that we have installed and continue to upgrade will make us the most secure lift installation anywhere."

The gondola is going into operation months ahead of schedule.

"We are opening earlier than anticipated and the task has been huge," said Brown in a press release.

"We are so excited that on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2020, we get to carry our passholders and guests back up the mountain on a brand-new cable, in brand-new cabins. Our community stood by the gondola and showed us overwhelming support, confidence, and love through the last six months, and for that, we are so grateful.

"Our industry partners were there every step of the way, from assisting in the clean-up and assessing needs to delivering major components with absolutely no notice. "Our amazing team rose to the challenge and have done everything required to get us back up and running as quickly as possible so we can get back to connecting people with nature and the beauty of Squamish."

Those with a sharp eye may also notice the new trail and foundations in place for the Sky Spiral. Brown said visitors would be able to see the new construction going up over Panorama Ridge in May or June.

"We kept going with that project as part of our desire to reopen and offer something fresh and new and a whole new perspective on Squamish and the sound. We anticipate the spiral itself-this [30-metre] walkway into the sky-will be complete by mid-summer," Brown said in an interview with The Chief.

The company has also updated the website for the gondola, Brown said.

As well, Brown said more than 70 core staff members were retained since the Aug. 10 incident. Now that operations are getting ready to take off, a locals' recruiting fair will be held on Jan. 17 and 18 at the Squamish Adventure Centre. Brown said hiring will be for full- and part-time positions, adding that the hope is to have former employees return to the gondola, while recognizing that many of the seasonal employees will likely have moved on. He added they also hope to see new local faces.

For opening day, Brown said there would be a few treats and surprises, especially since it will be on Valentine's Day. The gondola will be giving out vouchers to "share the love" with Squamish, and to thank the community for its continued support.

A version of this story originally appeared here.