The new $100-million Montreal Aerial Gondola (MAG) project connecting Old Montreal with Ile Ste-Hélène and Ile Notre-Dame has been dubbed "Montreal’s next showcase to the world" and, best of all, says Jeff Jorgenson, VP of Montreal’s Skylink Aerial Gondolas, the company wanting to build the project, "This is 100 per cent private money."
Skylink also claims the MAG will generate $120-million in new tourist spending annually, more than the F1 Grand Prix and the Jazz Festival combined.
Except the federally run Old Port of Montreal Corporation – whose Quays of the Old Port would house the Montreal Island terminal – flat-out refuses to let Skylink build on their property.
"Their most recent objection is the project won’t blend in with the historic nature of the Old Port," Jorgenson told Hour this week, noting his project has the support of Tourism Montreal, the Montreal Chamber of Commerce and Parc Jean-Drapeau (City of Montreal).
But Old Port officials are having none of that. "We question their implementation on our territory which would compromise some activities and development," says Old Port of Montreal Corporation marketing director Michel Rafi. "We don’t want to name specifics and cause [unnecessary] concerns to those people who run those activities."
Jorgensen retorts, "There’s little there right now. We can make the Old Port a point of renaissance for Old Montreal. It needs something new and exciting."
Jorgensen says the Old Port terminal would be built "on the grass just to the east of Quay Jacques-Cartier." All gondola cabins would be wheelchair accessible, many fitted to carry bicycles and skis, and its alpine ski technology would allow it to run year-round.
"I’ve been to every city in this country and Montreal is by far the most beautiful seen from the air," Jorgensen says, noting a decision must be made by January 2009 if the project is to be launched by May 2010.
Over at the Old Port, Rafi says, "Montreal is a very large island and we manage a small part. There are dozens of other places they can take off from."