75 staff laid off as Sea to Sky Gondola reveals timeline for reopening
Published Friday, August 16, 2019 9:34AM PDT Last Updated Friday, August 16, 2019 6:42PM PDT
It will take months to repair a gondola police believe was intentionally damaged, the tourist attraction's operators say.
The Sea to Sky Gondola is not expected to open until early next spring, as the cable and dozens of cabins need to be replaced. An exact timeline is not yet known.
"This is longer than any of us had hoped but we have to live with the reality of the situation and move forward responsibly," a post on the lift's website read.
As news of the expected timeline came down, the company also announced it had given early layoff notices to 75 seasonal staff, but hopes affected employees will catch on with other local businesses.
"We had to cut their season short, very sadly, but we were at a community job fair hosted by two community partners, Tourism Squamish and the Squamish Chamber," said Kirby Brown, the gondola's general manager.
A replacement cable and 30 new cabins have to be sent from Europe to the attraction on the side of B.C. Highway 99, a winding road connecting Metro Vancouver to Whistler and beyond that is also known as the Sea to Sky Highway.
A police investigation into what happened last weekend is underway. Staff members were alerted early Saturday morning that the main cable for the gondola had fallen, and the cabins had crashed down to the mountain below.
The RCMP has provided few details about what evidence has been gathered, but said that the investigation is believed to be criminal in nature.
A detailed review was conducted of the damage, and the clean-up has begun, the gondola company said.
Those looking to hike in the area near the granite dome known as the Stawamus Chief Mountain are asked to avoid the gondola trails until the debris has been removed.
In the meantime, the company is continuing with a planned expansion.
Construction on an elevated tree walk began less than two weeks before the cable was cut, but Brown can't say if anyone opposed to that project may be involved in the sabotage.
"I've stepped back from speculation and just focused on the task at hand: getting us open," he said. "We don't have any clear indication internally about who may have done this, but I know the RCMP are asking some good detailed questions and obviously they have some directions that they're leaning in."