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City will research walking/cycling bridge across Courtenay River

City of Courtenay staff will start looking into the feasibility of building a pedestrian/cycling bridge over the Courtenay River at Sixth Street.
Council supported the concept of a Sixth Street cycling/pedestrian bridge in principle Monday.
In doing so, council also agreed to a recommendation that city staff arrange for cost estimates of geotechnical work and project construction, cost-sharing arrangements, regulatory approvals, technical feasibility and compatibility with transportation master planning for subsequent consideration by council, and that a further report be submitted to council once all of this information has been obtained to see further direction on the proposal.
Council received a report from operational services director Kevin Lagan Monday, in which he provided an update on the covered wooden bridge concept brought forward by Ed Schum of the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition (CVCC) in early September.
Since Schum's presentation to council, city staff has met with the Cycling Public Advisory Committee (CPAC).
"Staff has advised CPAC of the process that needs to be followed to move this bridge concept forward and to seek approval by council in principle and also the commitment of staff resources," wrote Lagan.
The city has received a letter from the Timber Framers Guild requesting a "letter of interest" in the project to enable initial steps to begin with design concepts for the proposed bridge, but before this can occur, council needs to consider if this project should be advanced and if staff resources should be committed to it, explained Lagan.
Lagan estimated that the cost for the proposed structure and ancillary works is $1 million, noting that cost-sharing and funding aspects have yet to be determined.
Coun. Jon Ambler emphasized that the city is not talking about spending $1 million in taxpayers' money.
"There's a whole bunch of different ways to get this funded other than throwing it on the backs of our taxpayers," he said.
Ambler pointed out that everybody has feet, so the bridge would be for everybody. He also felt it could meet the needs of people who use scooters or walkers.
It seems to me like we're really premature here, and I'm really nervous about the money, and I think it's going to be a lot of money.
Coun. Larry Jangula was concerned about the cost of the project, which he felt would be higher than the $1 million mentioned in Lagan's report, and he voted against supporting the concept in principle.
"I'm concerned that we're jumping full-speed into this," he said. "There is going to be money spent; we're going to be using our staff time. It doesn't seem like we've had any input from our planning staff as to location ... It seems to me like we're really premature here, and I'm really nervous about the money, and I think it's going to be a lot of money.
"I think it's going to be more like four or five million dollars, and our taxpayers will be on the hook, and that really concerns me."
Coun. Doug Hillian pointed out that the CVCC has a lot of engagement with the community.
"We have a very active cycling and walking community here, and I think in those people coming forward, they represent a significant amount of public opinion," he said. "I think in acknowledging the citizens who came forward, we want to support the fact that they've indicated there are people who will get behind this with their labour, with their dollars, with their engagement."
Coun. Murray Presley did not have a problem with looking at the concept in principle, but he wasn't sure a pedestrian/cycling bridge was necessary in these economic times.
"There are certain things you have to have," he said. "You have to have clean drinking water, you have to have sewer and roads. Then there are some things you should have, probably sidewalks and stuff like that.
"And then there are things you'd like to have, and I think this is one of the things you'd like to have, but really, in these economic times, can you afford it?"
writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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