Sicamous seeks end to delays on bridge replacement project

Regulatory steps make a start date on the project uncertain

The District of Sicamous is hoping to keep on vital community bridge on schedule for replacement in 2020.

In a letter to the Ministry of Forests, Lands Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD), the district outlines possible regulatory delays that could impact replacement of the century-old Solsqua-Sicamous bridge and ask for assistance with keeping the project on schedule.

The bridge is a key piece of infrastructure as it is the only route within district limits crossing the Eagle River.

One of the latest delays mentioned in the letter is the matter of a permit which must be issued for BC Hydro to relocate a power pole to a riparian area adjacent to the bridge site. The district has received word approval of the permit could take up to 45 days. That delay, says the district, would create other delays to the project. The district is looking to get permit approval sooner.

Also in the letter is a suggestion for the bridge’s design. The district states ministry staff have made two project redesigns and are requesting further changes. The district is proposing an alternative to the ministry redesign that they say will mitigate engineering concerns while avoiding drastic impacts on the district’s budget and plans for the project.

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The letter notes that Sicamous is a small municipality and that the project relies on grant funding – a $4.5 million infrastructure grant was received for the project in early 2018.

“Delays and financial impacts to projects of this scale have a distinct and visible impact to the wallets of our taxpayers,” states the district.

Also holding up the project is a variance from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, allowing work on the project to proceed during a time window set to minimize impacts in and around fish-bearing streams. The district is waiting for a reply as to the status of its application.

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Also of concern to the district is the project’s as of yet unspecified start date. The district states delays could affect the ordering of materials for the bridge.

The letter concludes by expressing Sicamous council’s desire for solutions that will allow the bridge to be built in 2020.

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