B.C. company says cut cable and damaged gondola cabins to cost millions

SQUAMISH, B.C. — The company operating the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, B.C., said Monday the damage total will reach into the millions of dollars for what police have said appears to be a deliberate act of destruction.

At least 18 to 20 of the 30 gondola cabins and the main cable will need replacing, the company said in a statement.

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It said it is working with the lift manufacturer and the RCMP to determine its next steps towards reopening.

Mayor of Squamish, Karen Elliott, said she's been speaking with gondola staff.

"I understand that they're working with their suppliers and we should have an answer later this week about how long they'll be closed," she said.

"And then we'll be able to understand the impact both on the community and the staff."

Police believe someone may have intentionally cut the gondola cable at the tourist attraction, sending several unoccupied cabins plummeting to the ground early Saturday.

RCMP spokeswoman Const. Ashley MacKay said Monday that police had no further updates on the investigation.

MacKay wouldn't confirm whether investigators were looking at closed-circuit TV footage in the area, or if such footage exists.

"I'm not going to speak to its existence or not but if it does exist then we'll definitely look into it," she said.

The Sea to Sky Gondola officially opened in 2014 and carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people who visit the gondola every day during the summer season, with each cabin holding up to eight people.

When in operation, it takes around 10 minutes to reach an elevation of 885 metres above Howe Sound.

Elliott said the incident surrounding the gondola has impacted the community.

"People are shocked. They're really sad and there are lots of questions of who would do this and why," she said. "With the shock came profound gratitude that this was not operating at that time and no one was hurt."

The gondola is a major tourist attraction that is "really very well liked" and has brought the area "positive attention", Elliott said.

She said she did not have a dollar figure on the economic impact of losing the gondola business for the community.

"Certainly, the gondola attracted thousands and thousands of visitors a year and there's a spillover effect," she said.

Those who came for the gondola also participated in other activities or spent time visiting restaurants or other local attractions, she said.

"So, while we don't know how long they'll be closed, we suspect there will be some short-term impact."

The company said it was working to relocate as many as possible weddings and other events that have been scheduled at the top of the gondola.

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