The District of Sicamous council is making its views known on the Main Street Bridge option for the replacement of the aging Bruhn Bridge public, but Mayor Terry Rysz says the decision about bridge replacement is largely out of council’s hands.
A resolution made by council during an in-camera meeting was made public at the July 11 public meeting; it states that council will support the Main Street Bridge option if several conditions are met by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
The resolution states the construction, maintenance and replacement costs of the Main Street Bridge are to remain the ministry’s responsibility if the district is to support that option.
It also urges the ministry to include a connection from the bridge pathway to the Sicamous to Armstrong rail trail in the design and project costs for the bridge replacement.
Adherence to federal and provincial environmental regulations and guaranteed protection for Splatsin cultural heritage are mentioned in the resolution.
It also says that any district boat slips lost during construction must be replaced and that any impact to adjacent property owners must be mitigated as much as possible and the bridge approach must be as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
“If by chance the Ministry of Transportation doesn’t recognize those components to the resolution then we would probably have to reconsider,” Rysz said.
“If they comply with our requests then we’re in favour of the bridge.”
Related: Petition pans bridge proposal
Since September 2017 the options for the replacement of the Bruhn Bridge have been narrowed down to two: a single five-lane span and a four-lane bridge with a second bridge over the channel at the end of Main Street.
Rysz said he sees benefits in terms of safety and community connectivity in the two-bridge plan. He said a second bridge would improve emergency services’ response time to residences on Old Spallumcheen Road.
He also noted that the district would be responsible for maintenance and snow removal for the off-ramp on the five-lane bridge if the single-bridge plan goes forward.
Rysz said a bridge at Main Street will also improve Sicamous’ connection to the rail trail which has been billed as a possible major tourist draw.
“Our hands are more tied than what people might think. This is a decision that will be made by the province, made by the Ministry of Transportation,” Rysz said.
He added there is no indication which option the ministry will choose yet, but council members felt it was important to make their views on the two-bridge plan known if that option is selected.
Rysz said it remains to be seen if the statement from Sicamous council will have any effect on the ministry’s decision.
A survey conducted by the ministry between November 2016 and and January 2017 showed more public support for the single bridge option than the Main Street bridge plan. Sixty-five per cent of respondents were in favour of the five-lane bridge and 35 percent in favour of building two bridges.
“The survey to me doesn’t carry a ton of weight, I think that my one-on-one communication with people in the community from my perspective is more important, because I hear a lot of people giving support for the Main Street bridge and then I hear their side of it where people are opposed to the Main Street bridge,” Rysz said.
Whichever option to replace the Bruhn Bridge is chosen, Rysz said a decision should be made and work should begin as soon as possible. He said the current bridge is beginning to show its age more and more.
“We need to get it replaced sooner than later and that’s a fact. Hopefully it’s high on the priority list when it comes to the Ministry of Transportation,” he said.
“It’s getting to a point of critical, this has to be addressed.”