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LETTER: May Wells addresses community regarding 6th Street Bridge project

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells addresses concerns regarding 6 the Street Bridger project

Dear editor,

RE: 6th Street Active Transportation Bridge Project

On behalf of Courtenay city council, I am writing to address comments related to the 6th Street Active Transportation Bridge Project published in recent weeks.

The 6th Street pedestrian bridge has long been identified as a project of interest, beginning in 2012 when the 6th Street Bridge Steering Committee community group came to council to advocate for the crossing, and renewed in 2016 when a downtown revitalization plan – the Downtown Courtenay Playbook ‐ was developed with input from the community, including downtown businesses. That plan calls for an active transportation bridge at 6th to connect downtown to the parks and public spaces on the east side of the river.

This call was reaffirmed through extensive public consultation on the Parks and Recreation and Transportation Master Plans, both adopted in 2019. The Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association returned to council that same year to speak in support of the 6th Street bridge. Improving river crossings and connectivity for residents and visitors who walk, cycle and use mobility aids is a high priority for the community.

There are a number of compelling reasons behind the decision to construct this bridge. It will provide a key connection between current and future pathways, cycling lanes and amenities on both sides of the river, and create a safe crossing that more people of all ages and abilities will feel confident using. This project will also support the extensive residential and commercial development planned for the downtown core envisioned in our Official Community Plan and prescribed by the new provincial housing legislation.

Very importantly, it will also offer an accessible crossing that isn’t available on the 5th Street Bridge. Accessibility and cycling advocates have supported the concept of an accessible crossing at 6th Street.

These reasons led to the successful award of grant funding, grants that are only available for active transportation and municipal infrastructure. As a result, the cost to city residents has been reduced significantly, with grants paying for half of the $6.9 million project and the city contributing $3.4 million. The grant deadline requirement makes this a priority now.

Finally, we’re making this investment while also investing in other community priorities, like economic development, affordable housing, downtown safety, recreation, parks and trails and water and sewer services. Our work as council is to make decisions about how to balance the costs of all of the services, programs and projects that our diverse community needs and wants to see prioritized.

We are excited to see the 6th Street Active Transportation Bridge Project move forward. It will be an attractive community amenity that will expand transportation options for Comox Valley residents and visitors alike.

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells