By Andru McCracken
The Jasper Skytram is in the early stages of reimagining itself. According to Dave Gibson, the project coordinator, there is potential for the sightseeing infrastructure to carry three times as many people, run both summer and winter and reduce the operation’s environmental impact in the national park.
“There is a very good business case,” said Gibson. “We’ve had experts look at the return on investment, we didn’t just throw darts at those numbers.”
He said the skytram is currently one of Jasper’s biggest draws in the non winter months, but the skytram was commissioned in 1964 and it’s becoming hard to buy materials and supplies for it. Also the top of the skytram sits on what he called a ‘geological disturbance.’
“It’s time to make a change,” he said.
Gibson said they are reimagining the skytram with its access point much closer to Highway 93, which would keep busses, RVs and cars from making the 4 kilometre drive through important wildlife habitat on a windy road, built when school busses were the biggest thing on the road.
“We have a thought, we have some ideas, now we want to go to the Canadian public and go to our Indigenous friends. We’re asking for input,” he said.
“We’ve had two open houses, one in Jasper and one in Edmonton. We’re getting very positive feedback.”
Part of approving a project in a National Park is consultation, lots of consultation, but Gibson isn’t fazed.
“You have to be respectful that you are in a national park, there are lots of environmental concerns,” he said.
Gibson said at only 3km from the townsite, people will be able to walk and ride their bikes from town.
In the proposal, the top of the lift would be moved 250m to a more geologically stable area. Gibson said that Jasper Skytram would also remediate the old road and footprint to its natural state.