Red Deerians and visitors may one day soar in a gondola over the Red Deer River between Capstone and Bower Ponds.
Prairie Sky Gondola brought forward an unsolicited proposal to the City of Red Deer eight months ago and has been working with the city to assess and plan for the project.
A memorandum of understanding will be signed this spring, initiating the process to collaboratively undertake additional technical and commercial analysis.
The project would still need to go through design development, the city’s regulatory process, as well as public and Indigenous engagement, said the developer.
“We are in the early days, but this is a project both us and the city are going to collaborate on to advance,” said Prairie Sky Gondola president Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson, who estimated it could take about two years for construction to begin.
The privately funded, $25-million venue would see a gondola travel 350 meters east/west over the river from a station located immediately northeast of the Canada 150 Square in Capstone to the southwest edge of Bower Ponds adjacent to the existing trail network.
Hansen-Carlson said the gondola ropeway, or cable system, is becoming part of mainstream infrastructure.
“There are about 200 ropeways in development around the world right now, and there are multiple that are operational.”
Flying about 40 metres above the river, residents and visitors would get stunning views all day long, easily accessing all that downtown Red Deer and Bower Ponds has to offer.
The Capstone station will include dining and other experiential elements. The stations would enhance access to communities while integrating within the landscapes of both sides of the river.
“The city’s vision, investment, and work on Capstone served as a critical catalyst for Prairie Sky Gondola’s decision to move forward as they reviewed this site. This, matched with the city’s openness and willingness to welcome experienced, private investment, have culminated to provide this unique proposed opportunity in Red Deer,” said interim city manager Tara Lodewyk.
“Some cities don’t know how to react to unique ideas. Red Deer clearly is not one of those cities,” Hansen-Carlson said.
“Red Deer is arguably one of the best communities in Alberta to invest in today. We are excited to have gotten to this moment but we are also inspired by the work that’s ahead of us.”
He said the concept is to make the two stations as opposite as possible.
“What we have proposed is not necessarily intuitive. Capstone Station is sweeping and bold. Bower Ponds Station wants to be invisible. The development concept fires up the city’s vision while complementing the values of the community,” Hansen-Carlson said.
Mayor Ken Johnston said the project would highlight the natural beauty in Red Deer community while creating an attraction and destination in the heart of Capstone.
“The gondola will be an added tourism destination, the success of which will extend to local businesses and inspire further development,” Johnston said.
For more information visit www.prairieskygondola.com/red-deer.