Second information session today at Legends
PETER CONRADI/Bullet News
As a steady crowd of the curious strolled past the large information placards, standing off to the side, watching and chatting, were the curious and the informed – the business stakeholders who have more than a passing interest in where the Niagara Parks Commission goes with its plans to possibly add zip line to its roster of attractions.
“It would be a great place,” said Michael Smith, president of Arbortrek Canopy Adventures in Detroit, which runs a zip line at a ski resort in Vermont. “We’ll have to see what they decide.”
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Smith was one of at least two zip line developers attending Wednesday’s first of two information sessions at Legends golf course. The Parks Commission is currently exploring the possibility of bringing zip lines to Dufferin Islands and Thompson Point, across from the Whirlpool Golf Course near the Spanish Aerocar.
Among Smith’s services, his company constructs and operates zip line and canopy tour operations. He says the Parks Commission could bring the attractions with no investment of their own. It could be contracted out and run for a fee – much the way the Commission operates the boat tours in the lower Niagara River.
But Commission Chairwoman Janice Thomson says no decisions have been made on how a zip line would be run – or even if it will proceed at all.
“That’s why we’re here – we want to get feedback and hear what people think. We’re not saying we are going to do this. We don’t know if we would run it or if someone else would. We’re just exploring an idea that was presented to us.”
Thomson says the Parks Commission is very sensitive to public opinion, and an overwhelmingly negative reaction could scuttle the project.
“We absolutely pay attention to what people are saying.”
The Parks Commission has paid $27,000 to Urban and Environmental Management consultants from Niagara Falls to evaluate potential effects and determine the feasibility of zip line sites.
From a personal standpoint, Thomson says the concept is interesting. While she is a staunch protector of the Parks’ natural beauty, she says she will keep an open mind about zip lines.
Thomson said she would consider backing the proposal “In the right location, with assurance that it’s not impacting any of the natural environment or visitor experience for others in a negative way.”
“We have to change, we have to keep it fresh, I guess. And if this can be done without disturbing the environment, then it could be a good idea. If it attracts visitors to experience the area in a different way and allows the destination to compete with others who offer eco-tourism related adventure, then I am open to it.”
There is a second session today at Legends from 2-4 p.m.