Cabonne Council deputy mayor Anthony Durkin has slammed an ambitious plan for a six-kilometre, multi-million dollar chairlift from Lake Canobolas to the top of Mount Canobolas as a “waste of time”.
According to the Central Western Daily (CWD) Orange City Council deputy mayor Sam Romano said he had been approached by an investor about the idea.
Cr Romano said a chairlift would support plans to open an extensive mountain bike park on the mountain and should be complemented by building a restaurant at the summit.
He said the chairlift should be open all year round to offer people access when the mountain road was closed because of snow and become a major tourist attraction for Orange.
“This is something I think would be great for the city,” he said.
He compared the chairlift to one operating at Thredbo which provides access for skiers in winter and is equipped to carry riders and mountain bikes in summer.
Cr Romano said he had not costed the plan or considered its impact on the environment.
“We’ll cross that when we come to it. There are plenty of trees there,” he said.
Cr Romano said the investor who approached him was not offering to cover the construction or operating costs.
“It might be totally funded by the government,” he said.
“I’ve got no costings at the moment. There is a lot to talk about.
“What we’re intending is to make it work with the mountain bike track.”
In a Facebook post on the CWD’s page, Cr Durkin questioned whether the return on investment was worth the construction.
“Do the ratepayers of Orange really support this?” the post read.
“Let’s get a chairlift up a mountain to look at a radio tower = (Not). What’s the return on investment for such a project?”
Any plan in regards to the chairlift Orange City Council comes up with would need to work with Cabonne Shire Council as part of the area falls in its boundaries.
The chairlift plan has also been opposed by conservationists with the recent discovery of a rare native orchid on Mount Canobolas for the first time in 24 years.
Retired Orange botanist and life member of the Orange Field Naturalists and Conservation Society, Dr Colin Bower, said the idea was a risk to the environment.
“If it can be done sensitively without harming too much, then maybe, but no,” he said.
“It’s not a new idea. It was raised probably 30 years ago.
“It got the kibosh then and the Orange Field Naturalists don’t support the idea now.”