Fredericton — In an effort to boost rates of enrollment and class attendance, St. Thomas University recently proposed the City of Fredericton construct a chairlift that would carry STU’s downtown dwellers to their classes up the hill.
While the lift has many supporters, the project is not without opposition. A group of St. Thomas students are rallying against the chairlift, claiming it would cost the city the last remnants of its walking culture. “Students already have to fight the ‘freshman 15,'” stated Kim Williston, the group’s leader. “The installation of this chairlift would spark the beginning of the ‘freshman 50!'”
“Very few of us walk farther than the distance between the couch and the driver’s seat,” she went on to explain. “The only people keeping walking culture alive in this city are students who can’t afford cars. If we install a chairlift, we’ll see the extinction of pedestrian traffic.”
While Williston is anti-lift, Fredericton residents remain anti-hill. In response to Williston, supporters of a Fredericton chairlift have adopted slogans like “Hills Kill” and “Do You Even Lift?”
Dawn Russell, STU’s president and the driving force behind the lift, said, “Students already aren’t walking. The chairlift won’t change that, but at least it will get them to class. The only alternative would be eliminating Fredericton’s hills.”
Unfortunately, levelling the entire city is unrealistic, but a compromise may have been found. UNB engineering student Brad Anderson has designed an “outdoor escalator” that would be positioned on the city’s more daunting hills. The Manatee contacted Anderson for comment.
“You know when you go to another province, and you see escalators inside some of the buildings?” he said. “Well picture that, only outside and on a hill.”
He told us that outdoor escalators could have “huge health benefits for the city, because an escalator would force people to exercise more than a car or chairlift would. Instead of sitting down in a driver’s seat or lift seat, everyone could be standing up on an escalator. Obesity will become a thing of the past.”
On top of the health benefits, Anderson claimed the project could also be a great draw for tourism: “Fredericton boasts being Atlantic Canada’s riverfront capital and cultural centre. Unfortunately, people aren’t visiting for anything but work or school, so I’m thinking we could change focus and become the city with all those outdoor escalators.”
Escalating the project off the ground is another story. According to Anderson, plans for the project are finished, but the cost would be about 6 times that of the STU chairlift and they have not been able to attract the investors needed to build it. Anderson is seeking financial help from the province, but the Gallant government has yet to confirm or deny the request.
So whether you favour STU’s chairlift, Anderson’s escalator or wish to keep hill-climbing the way it’s always been, this reporter thinks we can all agree that New Brunswick has to do something to become more walk-friendly so that our grandchildren aren’t driving to the fridge to fetch Grampy a beer.