Courtenay council is considering the idea of constructing a third crossing — a pedestrian/cycling bridge on 6th Street — which would connect downtown with Simms Park, and provide an east‐west connection to a future cycling network.
From four design options, city staff recommend a four-metre wide, cable‐stayed bridge, which would require a smaller staging area during construction. This option would also have a lighter impact on businesses, traffic and the environment.
The cost estimate is $4.4 million. A five-metre deck width would cost $5.8 million, and a six-metre deck would be $6.6 million.
“It’s my hope that we can raise the majority of the funding for this project through grants,” Coun. Doug Hillian said at the Dec. 9 meeting.
Chris Davidson, interim director of engineering services, said grants currently available require construction to be completed by 2021, which is almost impossible.
“We’re somewhat confident there’ll be more grant money coming out next year,” he said.
While some may question the need for another bridge, Hillian feels it would be a “huge shot in the arm” for the downtown core, for the local economy, and in terms of esthetic value.
“I think the economic development piece can’t be understated,” Coun. Wendy Morin said.
Coun. Manno Theos, noting future financial challenges and impending repairs to the Fifth Street Bridge, harbours some concern about the strain on businesses if this project proceeds.
“Moving down the road, I believe that even with grants, there’s still going to be many hurdles for us to move forward economically and justify projects such as this,” Theos said.
Council unanimously approved a staff recommendation to include the proposed four-metre wide, cable‐stayed option in the 2021-2025 financial plan. An amendment from Morin calls for staff to consult with the arts community and the K’ómoks First Nation on design elements, including public art.
The need to confirm a bridge design is required to facilitate potential construction in 2022. It would take about six months to build the bridge. Staff note that an eagle’s nest in Simms Park sits within 150 metres of the construction site. As per migratory bird nesting regulations, construction may be limited to a non‐nesting window of October to December.