Developers of Golden Skybridge plan Okanagan Gondola overlooking Kalamalka Lake

Gondola above Kal Lake

A gondola overlooking Kalamalka Lake and connecting to the Okanagan Rail Trail is proposed south of Vernon.

The Okanagan Gondola project is currently in planning with the Regional District of North Okanagan and would be developed by Ridge North America, builders of the the Golden Skybridge attraction.

While still pending approval, the gondola would be a world-class tourist attraction located off Bailey Road.

Construction would begin in 2023, with the goal of opening some early activities, amenities and services in 2024.

The gondola would take visitors from its base above Highway 97, climbing 1,600 feet to the summit, showcasing the stunning turquoise waters of Kalamalka Lake below.

The proposed base plaza would include an amphitheatre, cafe, farmers and artisan market, as well as food and beverage and retail outlets.

There would also be a mid-station on the gondola with viewing platforms, access to trails, and viewing platforms.

At the summit, a restaurant is planned, along with more viewing platforms, walking trails and bike trails.

"We really love connecting iconic destinations that utilize the natural beauty of the landscape as the main attraction," Ridge president Paul Deutsch said in a press release. "The location of this project is beautiful, showcasing the Okanagan Valley's beautiful rolling hill landscapes and majestic views of Kalamalka Lake."

From its earliest stage of planning, the project has included an environmental consultant to identify areas on the site that require a delicate touch and strategic planning to ensure a balance is maintained between preservation, conservation and recreational exploration.

Vice-president Rav Soomal says a development application is currently going through the permit stages and awaiting review and approval from the RDNO.

"We are so excited to show what we are doing," said Soomal. "We’ll have something for everyone, from grandparents to small children. The summit at the peak of the mountain will be amazing, but the plaza at the base will be the hub of the project. It will be a really cool, fun village and a place to hang out, very immersive and a community place for everyone to enjoy."

The plaza will feature a playground with tree houses and a treetop rope challenge.

A strategic partnership is planned with nearby Predator Ridge Resort.

"For over 20 years of our history, it was only Predator Ridge doing business up in this Commonage corridor. In 2010, we welcomed Sparkling Hill Resort and the emergence of a lot of great wineries. Now, the next stop is the potential of the Okanagan Gondola project, which if approved, would be another transformational tourist amenity and an additional amenity for our residents," said Brad Pelletier, senior vice-president for Wesbild Okanagan.

"To see everything that is being invested in tourism and amenities in the North Okanagan, I don’t know anywhere in the province that is seeing more."

Predator Ridge also helped secure an upcoming connection from the Okanagan Rail Trail under Highway 97 that will link to Bailey Road.

"To have this right here in the Commonage corridor is really exciting for all of us."

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