Staircases need work before fall races

Over the next few weeks, city crews will inspect West Trail stairways being used in upcoming Trail events.

Trail public works is feeling a little jittery about all the stepping and storming that’s soon to happen on the city’s historic staircases.

Granted two inaugural races planned for the second weekend in September will stagger start times, the aging westside features have in many cases, seen better days.

Over the next few weeks, city crews will inspect West Trail stairways being used in Storm the Stairs, a family-friendly event slated for Sept. 12 and the Red Roofs Duathlon scheduled the following day.

“I am a little nervous about this to be quite honest with you,” Larry Abenante told members of Trail council Monday. “I’ve seen people running through town for these types of events and there’s usually five or six in a group. I have visions of these guys coming down the stairs running four or five at a time and landing,” he added. “These stairs are not designed for that.”

The city is finding a number of the staircases, most dating back decades, require costly repairs like replacement of rotting stringers.

“If we find a set of city stairs that is beyond something like that, we will go back to these groups and ask them to re-route,” said Abenante. “We just maintain the stairs for foot traffic.”

He gave the example of a set of stairs on Hendry Street that crews decommissioned last summer after reconfiguring the pathway and nearby parking.

“Doing that was a huge cost,” he said, mentioning repair of longer stairways would cost between $50,000 and $75,000.

Roads and Grounds Superintendent Patrick Gauvreau concurs with Abenante’s assessment of the staircases saying the features were not designed for these types of events.

Gauvreau and a city carpenter will be inspecting the events’ routes next week and looking at areas that can be reinforced to accommodate heavier than normal traffic.

Trail council recently endorsed the fall events earlier this year, upon the condition that the city is secured against legal responsibility and harmless from any claims that might arise as a result of participation.

Registration is now open for the Storm the Stairs fundraising challenge, that includes climbing 1501 stairs and walking or running four kilometres through West Trail before heading back down to Rossland Ave.

While showcasing the city’s unique staircases and rock walls along the route, the one-day race launches the Trail and District United Way’s annual campaign.

Anyone 18 and up can join regardless of fitness level, and entrants 14 to 17 years of age do not have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian but must have a legal parent or guardian sign the confirmation and liability waiver to participate.

Prizes will be given to the top fundraisers rather than the top racers.

To register visit traildistrictunitedway.com and click on the Storm the Stairs link. From that point, users will be directed to the fundraising site, yodel.org. and the event register link. Fee to enter Storm the Stairs is $50.

On Sept. 13, the Red Roofs Duathlon, co-hosted by the Rotary Club Waneta Trail Sunrise and the High Altitude Triathlon Club launch a high level competition starting with a seven-kilometre run at Gyro Park, a route through the staircases and a 40 km bike ride along Highway 3.

For information and to volunteer contact Carol Currie at 231.1671 or John Lake at 368.7494.

The City of Trail has 63 sets of covered stairways, with the majority located on the west side. According to “A Guide to Historic Buildings and Places,” a publication released a few years ago, if the stairs were stacked on top of each other, they would equate to 6,610 vertical feet, approximately two kilometres of stairway.

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