Trail voters back bridge and library/museum in key 2014 referendums

Pivotal infrastructure projects will begin to take shape in 2015

Voters made decisions with their ballots in 2014 and in 2015, those decisions will go from concept to reality.

In November, voters said yes to funding a new library/museum, but the proposed utility/pedestrian bridge had bigger hurdles than a vote to jump over.

Council was ready to approve the bridge plan in May, but after vocal opposition and a petition from over 1,200 Trail voters, the city was forced to hold a referendum on the issue.

In August, over a quarter of registered voters in the city hit the polling booths for the first of the two referendums, voting overwhelmingly to support the utility/pedestrian bridge.

The project was passed with 1,565 votes in the “Yes” column and just 411 voters saying “No,” a far cry from the number of people who signed the petition against the plan.

With the resident stamp of approval, Mayor Mike Martin says the bridge project is moving forward fast and is expected to break ground in just a few short months.

“The engineering work has started,” he said. “We are looking for some (specifics) from the regional district on the pipeline (to go along the bridge). That work has been started and we are expecting to have that from them in the new year. I am really looking forward to starting construction in the spring.”

The bridge, assuming an 18-month construction time, would be completely just before the end of 2016.

The library/museum, dubbed the Riverfront Centre, is moving forward after the referendum, which asked Trail if they were on board with taking out the loan needed to build the project. The vote passed with 61 per cent of ballots cast voting “Yes” to borrow the money. The question was included on the ballots alongside the municipal election.

The next stage for the centre is to put out a request for proposal (RFP) and hire an architectural firm to design the building.

Barbara Gibson, chair of the Trail and District Library Board, says ideally, she would like to see the project finished by the end of 2015 – just in time to showcase  “Italian Canadian as Enemy Aliens,” an exhibit remembering the struggle of Italian Canadians in internment camps during World War II. That timeline seems unlikely though, with all the planning that still needs to go into the project.

David Perehudoff, chief administrative officer for the city, says he expects construction on the library/museum to finish around summer of 2017.

“When considering the time to design and the preferred window for construction, we probably would see this project start up either in the fall of 2015 or spring 2016,” he said in an email reply to the Trail Times. “Assuming the latter, the facility would probably be open in the summer of 2017.”

Just last week, the city announced the purchase of a property adjacent to the planned location of the Riverfront Centre and now, the new acquisition will have to be worked into the plan.

“At this point, we have our 9,000 square feet on the top floor (for the library),” said Gibson, adding that she has an idea or two of what could go in the added space. “I would love to see a visitor information centre put in there. The current one isn’t the best for people to get to, but I am sure that council will come up with some other ideas.”

The Trail Historical Society has been working with the library and the city to lay the groundwork for the Riverfront Centre and Jamie Forbes, president of the society, can’t wait to see the project move on to the next phase.

“I think, once we hit the new year, everything will come together,” he said.

“We will hit full speed on developing some terms of reference for the request for proposal and get moving. This year was all about putting together a concept for the referendum, but now we are going to be getting into some detailed work.”

The bridge and the library/museum are two projects that Mayor Martin believes, money and effort will boost Trail’s reputation with visitors and outside investors.

“I am really looking forward to this really exciting opportunity that will really boost the revitalization of downtown Trail,” he said. “It will also send a strong message to potential investors that we are prepared to invest in our own community and I think the pedestrian bridge and especially the Riverfront Centre, are going to do that.”

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