City OKs ‘expert support’ for wooden bridge

Courtenay staff in best position to provide factual information

In a 5-2 vote Tuesday, Courtenay council approved a Jon Ambler resolution for city staff to provide expert support to a citizen’s group hoping to construct a wooden pedestrian/cyclist bridge across the Courtenay River between Simms Millennium Park and Sixth Street.

Rather than automatically saying yes or no, Ambler feels it is council’s role to create an environment where people can come forward with ideas. Staff members, he added, are in the best position to provide people with factual information.

If the wooden bridge comes into fruition, Ambler said it will become part of Courtenay’s infrastructure.

Coun. Starr Winchester and Mayor Larry Jangula did not support his resolution.

“Building a bridge next to another bridge doesn’t make sense,” said Winchester, who suggests a bridge connecting Third Street and Lewis Park would make more sense.

Coun. Manno Theos supports the resolution but feels the proposed location is “intimidating” because it is not visible. It could, for instance, be conducive to having people sleep inside it.

Coun. Doug Hillian likes the location because it connects the riverway with Simms Park, and it would help with traffic flow. He also feels it would become a tourist attraction and a destination for locals.

“This will be a boom for our downtown,” said Hillian, who feels a bridge from Third Street would not have the same level of connectivity. “I see this as a project that taps the incredible spirit of this community.”

Jangula — who feels a north connector with the hospital is a bigger priority — thinks the electorate would not support the proposed bridge if the project is to be decided by a referendum. He also notes staff time is paid by taxpayer dollars.

Last month, project steering committee chair Harry Holland handed over a $17,000 deposit towards the bridge.

Earlier in the year, government turned down the city’s application for a $1.9-million grant towards the bridge proposal. Courtenay had spent $70,000 on a feasibility study, but council had voted to stop city spending on the project there.

 

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