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Sunday 3 March 2019

Canada leads the way with nature-based tourism experiences

While Hobart continues to debate the merits of a chairlift up kunanyi/Mount Wellington, in Canada they just get on with providing locals and tourists with impressive nature-based experiences.

Take the Sea to Sky gondola on Highway 99 just south of Squamish, a scenic 45-minute drive from downtown Vancouver.

A 10-minute gondola ride here offers spectacular views of Howe Sound, dotted with green islands and backed by the steep mountains of the Coast Range; the majestic Stawamus Chief; and a bird’s eye view of the town of Squamish with the rugged, snow-capped mountains to the north.

A popular spot at the summit for spectacular photos is the 100-metre Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge.

There are many walking and hiking trails for all ages and abilities while visitors can enjoy a meal with a view at the Summit Lodge.

There are events happening year-round at the Sea to Sky Gondola. There are not many other places where you can listen to live music, taste fine wines, or practice yoga with such a spectacular setting.

Since its inception the Sea to Sky Gondola has had the aim of connecting people to the great outdoors.

Next up is a proposed tree walk (above) that will wind 34 metres into the sky, offering soaring 360° views and access for guests of all ages and abilities. The elevated trail experience would start at the Summit Lodge and lead guests on a 2.5km return trip through the trees and over wetlands along Panorama Ridge.

The elevated tree walk would be a significant multi-million-dollar infrastructure investment for the Squamish-based tourism destination that opened in the spring of 2014.

Approvals are still pending but “the elevated tree walk we have envisioned and propose will make it easy for our guests of all ages and abilities to better connect to the great outdoors, regardless of the season and no matter the weather,” says Kirby Brown, the Sea to Sky Gondola general manager.

“This structure would be Canada’s newest iconic landmark, and its location, immersed in nature, will solidify Squamish as a must-see Canadian tourism destination.”

Prior to construction, the project is subject to First Nations engagement as well as local and provincial government approvals. The Sea to Sky Gondola has received the appropriate development applications from the Squamish Lillooet Regional District with the goal to be breaking ground in fall 2019 and opening in spring 2020.

“With this new phase, we continue to honour the unceded traditional territory of the Squamish Nation where we reside. We are also proud to align our objectives with the strategic plans and land use policies of the Squamish Lillooet Regional District and the Province,” says Brown.

“The tree walk will preserve, connect and enhance access to natural areas while protecting environmentally sensitive areas."

Lots of lessons here for the arrogant Mount Wellington Cable Car Company, and for those who blindly oppose a chairlift.


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