After reading last week’s Eagle Valley News, I feel compelled to voice my enthusiastic support for the Bruhn Bridge Option 3 proposal which includes the Main Street Bridge.
I do feel strongly that it would be a huge benefit to our town as a whole and it would be a tragedy if we lose this opportunity.
I am a longtime resident (30+ years) and have watched this town struggle to get going in spite of the natural beauty that surrounds us. We struggle to keep retail businesses here. We struggle to keep enough students to keep our schools open. We struggle to attract doctors to our town. (Thank you to Dr. Beech for sticking with us). We are surrounded by failed and stalled developments.
Something has to change if we want to attract people to come here. Main Street, in spite of the widening a few years ago, is still devoid of thriving businesses. The relatively new Askew’s Center was a welcome addition and shows what a positive impact an attractive retail development can have, but the west end of Main Street still stagnates.
The Main Street Bridge could be a showpiece, with a three-metre-wide walkway, landscaped promenades and viewing areas overlooking the channel, inviting strollers and cyclists to hang out and enjoy the activity in the channel. It would be a direct connection to the upcoming Rail Trail, and the Larch Hills trailhead without having to go out on the highway.
It’s no fun sharing a walkway with fast moving highway and truck traffic. Believe me, I know!
I believe this bridge would be the catalyst to the revival of our downtown. I also believe even the naysayers would be out there on summer evenings enjoying this bridge, as much as many enjoy sitting on the promenade at the Finlayson Street boat launch. Imagine being able to take a leisurely stroll across a beautiful new bridge, pausing to watch the comings and goings in the channel, and then onto a beautiful walking and cycling trail that would take you along the channel, along Mara Lake, and even all the way to Osoyoos.
Some folks fear the increase in traffic on Main Street, even comparing it to the TCH through Salmon Arm. Sure, there would be more traffic, but that’s like comparing grapes to watermelons. Traffic equals commerce, and if we want businesses on Main Street, we would want more cars on Main Street to support those businesses. It could all be done in a pedestrian-friendly manner with 30-km speed limits, more crosswalks, islands, etc. A truck route could be established to keep the heavy trucks out of the town core.
Some people are concerned with the cost of maintenance and eventual replacement, although I think the benefits would surpass these. Especially if we negotiate cost sharing for maintenance with the other beneficiaries such as the CSRD, golf course and perhaps even the Band. I’m sure that when it comes time for replacement in 50 to 70 years, if ever, ( how old is the Big Eddy Bridge in Revelstoke?) that cost sharing with the province could be negotiated.
I understand some people would like to keep things as they are. I just hope there are enough of us who want to see some growth and vitality in this town to ensure we don’t miss this opportunity. Because we won’t get it again.
Kudos to Mayor Terry Rysz for taking what may be a somewhat unpopular stand because he sees this incredible opportunity for what it is. Sometimes politicians have to do more than just follow their constituents’ wishes; they have to lead. Unpopular decisions may have to be made for the betterment and future of the whole community.
Please voice your support for the Main Street Bridge.