The construction of a timber frame pedestrian bridge spanning the Kicking Horse River united the town of Golden, B.C.
The community effort inspired a group in the Comox Valley that envisions a similar bridge for pedestrians and cyclists across the Courtenay River between Simms Millennium Park and Sixth Street.
At Courtenay council Monday, project steering committee chair Harry Holland said 20 “visionaries” have committed to the legacy project that will enable safe crossing and add an “intangible asset to the Comox Valley,” akin to the Sid Williams Theatre and Simms Park pavilion. He handed over a $17,000 deposit to Tillie Manthey, director of financial services.
“We call on you (council) to support this wonderful project,” said Holland, whose presentation was preceded by a video about the bridge in Golden. See www.cvbridgeproject.com.
Earlier this year, government turned down the city’s application for a $1.9-million grant towards the wooden bridge proposal. Courtenay had spent $70,000 on a feasibility study, but council voted to stop city spending on the project there.
The estimated cost of construction is $2.8 million, not including geotechnical considerations.
Coun. Doug Hillian, while commending the efforts of those involved, questioned the proposed location and why the bridge would be a positive investment.
Holland said the proposed location provides a natural connection from the north end into Simms Park and downtown.
“There’s nothing I love more than a project that brings people together,” Coun. Starr Winchester said. “Still, I hear lots of questions asking, Why build a bridge next to another bridge?’ “
Winchester is not convinced that spending taxpayers’ money on a third bridge is a priority.
Holland, however, said the committee is not asking for more money from taxpayers. It proposes to pay for the bridge by way of fundraising and grants from senior levels of government.
“This is an asset we’re delivering to Courtenay,” said Holland, noting “tremendous community involvement” in the 1920s when the Native Sons Hall was constructed. The building became a “lasting legacy in the Comox Valley,” he added.
“So, too, will be the bridge.”
Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard said the $17,000 is “nothing to sneeze at,” and feels the project proposal warrants further exploration.
“I’m looking forward to the next step,” she said.
City staff will lend their expertise to the project at the July 2 council meeting.