A safe way across the Sicamous Channel for pedestrians and cyclists is at the top of district council’s to-do list.
When deciding on their strategic priorities for the coming term at their Jan. 30 meeting, Sicamous council made securing a pedestrian bridge at Main Street a top priority.
Council also approved a resolution requesting Splatsin support for a suspension pedestrian bridge at Main Street, and that they work with the district to ensure the sensitive traditional fish wier located near the proposed bridge location is protected.
Sicamous’ mayor and councillors were among those who felt some disappointment when the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced it would proceed with a five-lane replacement to the Bruhn Bridge, as opposed to a four-lane span accompanied by a two-lane vehicle/pedestrian bridge over the channel at Main Street.
Council indicated the Main Street Bridge was their preferred option shortly after it was first proposed, and then redoubled their support with two new councillors onboard after the Oct. 2018 election.
Coun. Bob Evans said he and Coun. Ryan Airey met Alan Harrison, Salmon Arm’s mayor, who was excited about the rail trail and the possible pedestrian bridge.
Coun. Jeff Mallmes said he disagrees with the multi-use lane alongside the five-lane Bruhn Bridge, concerned for the safety of people who might use it. He said an incident like that occurred in November 2018, when a semi damaged the bridge’s railing and closed its sidewalk, is sure to happen again.
“This bridge is a must; right now we have the Bruhn Bridge, it has a barricade on it,” said Mallmes. “A person with a scooter can’t get across it at all, they have to ride out in the middle of the road.”
Mallmes said the rail trail has the potential to grow into a tourist draw with possibly tens of thousands of people a year going across the Trans-Canada bridge.
“This is the first step in getting where we need to go but it’s definitely a safety concern,” said Mayor Terry Rysz.
Opinions on a pedestrian bridge differ amoung those who opposed the vehicle bridge at Main Street. Ken Bateman, who was a vocal opponent of the Main Street Bridge option, still thinks things should be left as they are at the end of Main Street.
“Perhaps Mayor and Council’s effort and time should and could be put to worthwhile matters which affect the community positively instead of continuing to pursue a partial option which was not feasible or sensible from the start, and only benefited a select few. Again, they should certainly be working with the ministry on the design, which is some 18- to 24-months away,” Bateman wrote in a letter to the News.
“The decision has been made. The Main Street park needs to remain a park and it seems it is time to move on.”
Denise Cookson, who also questioned the value of a vehicle bridge at Main Street, sees some merit in a bridge for pedestrians. She said a pedestrian bridge could be a welcome addition which would connect the areas of Sicamous on either side of the channel, and enhance the beauty of the town. Cookson also said any new bridge should be handicap accessible, esthetically pleasing, covered to offer shelter in inclement weather and designed to discourage jumping from it.