Who cut cable of B.C. gondola? Police dog airlifted to crime scene
Mounties still consider a popular B.C. tourist attraction a crime scene as investigators try to determine who's behind a dangerous and costly act of sabotage.
Members of the Squamish RCMP were called over the weekend to the Sea to Sky Gondola, an attraction off Highway 99 about an hour's drive south of Whistler, after it appeared that someone cut the thick steel cable.
On Monday, the RCMP could be seen using a helicopter to transport a dog and its handler to the top of mountain near the Stawamus Chief. The investigation is ongoing, but police believe the cable was cut intentionally.
Dozens of gondola cars crashed to the mountainside below when the cable was severed. Fortunately no one was injured.
Few details are known, but operators said they were alerted at around 4:30 a.m. Saturday. A security guard heard a loud crash as the cars fell, causing over $1 million in damage.
The company said about 18 to 20 of the attraction's cars were damaged beyond repair and will need to be replaced. It's working with lift manufacturer Doppelmayr, but that it's unlikely the gondola will be running before the end of the summer season.
The cable will also need to be replaced.
"In the meantime, we are contacting all of the private weddings and events that have been scheduled at the gondola. We are working to relocate as many as possible to other beautiful venues in the area," staff said in a statement posted online.
Squamish has long been Canada's outdoor recreation capital, drawing adventure seekers to the aqua blue waters of Howe Sound and into the peaks surrounding the community.
When the gondola first opened five years ago, the attraction triggered a new wave of tourism growth.
"The gondola absolutely put us on the map. It achieved international attention when it opened," Squamish Mayor Karen Elliot told CTV News Monday.
The Squamish River Rafting Company launched in the following years, partnering with the gondola so tourists can combine their activities into a full-day experience.
Those at the rafting company worry about the gondola closure's impact on their business.
"We might lose some clients. People might not come to Squamish. They might decide to go to other areas to look for that kind of activity," Bob McKay said.
But the Sea to Sky Gondola's general manager is hopeful the attraction can reopen soon.
"It's a group of humans that get up every day and really want to do something that we feel is important," Kirby Brown said.
With a report from CTV News Vancouver's Ben Miljure in Squamish