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Opinion: Burnaby Mountain Gondola will make a difference for everyone

SFU president Joy Johnson believes the gondola will lift the traffic and transportation woes of students, faculty and Burnaby residents alike.

The following opinion-editorial was submitted to the NOW from Joy Johnson, president of Simon Fraser University (SFU).

As Simon Fraser University's president, one of the things I love most about my job is engaging with the community to make life better.

Whether it's our pioneering co-op programs that connect students to local businesses and non-profits, or the partnerships we’ve forged to tackle common challenges like housing and public health, or the fact that almost 95 per cent of our graduates stay in British Columbia, our deeply held commitment to community is a big part of what makes SFU unique.

The Burnaby Mountain Gondola, which will take transit riders from the Production Way Millennium Line Station up to SFU's Burnaby campus, is an excellent example of how SFU and the community are working to make a difference for everyone.

When the gondola is completed, students and residents will no longer face some of the longest transit wait times in the Lower Mainland.

Burnaby residents will have more frequent and reliable access to SFU's many amenities, and cultural and sporting events held on campus throughout the year.

Businesses, non-profits and community organizations will be better connected to residents on Burnaby Mountain.

And because the Burnaby Mountain Gondola will run on electricity and reduce traffic congestion by taking cars off the road, everyone will benefit from reduced greenhouse gas emissions and lower operating costs.

For these and many other reasons, the Burnaby Mountain Gondola is supported by a broad coalition of residents, unions, businesses and non-profit organizations in Burnaby and across the Lower Mainland who have been outspoken advocates for the project.

I want to thank our SFU students, who have played a vital role building public support holding public events, organizing petitions and meeting with community leaders, city councillors and MLAs.

The Burnaby Mountain Gondola has the backing of Burnaby City Council and is included as a priority project in TransLink's 10-year Plan.

Support for the Burnaby Mountain Gondola also stems from extensive community consultation.  At every step in the planning process the public has contributed to the project’s design, routing and planning. The result is a project that is tailored to the needs of our region and the thousands of people who will use the gondola each day.

Currently, TransLink is consulting the public on the gondola’s business plan. I encourage everyone interested in the project to take TransLink’s survey, open until Sunday, Nov. 19, which can be accessed through the TransLink Listens website.

As president of SFU, I am also excited about what the Gondola means for the future of SFU in Burnaby.

For nearly 60 years, SFU and Burnaby have grown together.

In that time, the City of Burnaby has become one of the most vibrant urban centres in Canada, a sought-after place to live, work and play.  And SFU has become a leading research university, ranked the number one comprehensive university in Canada and the top university in the world for our impact on sustainable cities and communities. 

The Burnaby Mountain Gondola is an important milestone on our journey together, reflecting the values that make Burnaby such a great place to call home and SFU such a great place to study, work and make an impact. 

With the Burnaby Mountain Gondola connecting campus to community and community to campus, SFU's future in Burnaby looks brighter than ever.

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