Turning inner space into outer space

February 23, 2011

Ziplines a growing tourist draw

The zipline proposed for the Chase area is just one of many that have been springing up around North America. Already, thrill-seekers can zip along steel cables strung up over a river canyon or canopy of trees in places all around B.C.

The one over at the Canada Olympic Park in Calgary looks especially intriguing. Anyone who has ever driven in to Calgary from the west has seen the massive ski jump that was built there for the Olympics. Imagine coming down that thing at speeds up to 140 km/h. There’s a video on YouTube that shows what it’s like. The main line is by some accounts the fastest on the continent.

On the other hand, Skyline, which operates one of the Whistler ziplines, claims to have the “fastest and most technologically advanced ziplines (canopy tours) in the world.”

There’s not a lot of information available about ziplines when it comes to their impact on the environment. What seems to be more of a worry is the safety aspect. A couple of high-profile cases in 2008 prompted the Vancouver Sun to file an access-to-information request that discovered some violations at Whistler. The B.C. Safety Authority has since clamped down with demands for several corrective actions.

Still, in the 20 years that ziplines have been around, the demand has been growing. In B.C. there are two at Whister and one in Sooke, near Victoria. Another one was built recently at Grouse Mountain. Plus, you can zip along with a great view of the Rockies at Kicking Horse River.

A zipline at Chase would be a great tourism attraction. I’m hoping that residents’ concerns can be satisfied, and that it will be built.