Lighting Trail bridge is a bright idea

"There’s something serene and constant about the river that definitely fits into the Kootenay way of life."

In a world where the almighty dollar appears to be the determining factor in any decision, I applaud the people who can think outside of that box.

Ideas that don’t yield immediate economic gains are often tossed aside by those who think life revolves around the bottom line.

Granted we all have to live within our means but making decisions solely based on money are often recipes for disaster. We have all experienced purchases where cheaper didn’t necessarily mean better.

With that in mind, I welcome the idea from the Downtown Opportunities and Action Committee to light up the Victoria St. Bridge.

The goal is to string LED lights across the bridge have them controlled so they can display a variety of colours depending on the occasion or time of year.

Imagine a bridge lit up for Christmas or Canada Day or a Trail Smoke Eaters game.

I always thought one of Trail’s best and least-used assets was the Columbia River.

People in larger centres fight over the opportunity to get water views. Restaurants and stores covet an area where customers can not only shop or eat but also enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of being near the water.

Look at the Trail Outdoor Market or Gyro Park and I rest my case.

That’s why I’m thrilled we’re getting another river crossing. As someone who walks the Victoria St. Bridge daily, I realize how nice it is to have an alternate crossing, even if it is only for the public to use on foot.

There’s something serene and constant about the river that definitely fits into the Kootenay way of life. It inspires people to walk for many reasons – health, stress, camaraderie or simple pleasure.

With that in mind, the idea of lighting the bridge is akin to the wonderful murals that add colour to downtown buildings.

Attracting people to Trail’s downtown has always been a Rubik’s Cube for civic leaders. Everyone attempts to solve the puzzle but few succeed.

The current downtown revitalization has already brought out groans and eye rolling from citizens.

The tall poles marking avenues downtown have left a few people scratching their heads as to their usefulness. There is also a plan to add archways leading into the downtown and they come with a six-figure price tag.

I’m no expert on downtown design but I notice an archway in Cranbrook as I cruise through that town. I should add it has never enticed me to pull into the downtown area, but that’s just me.

I’m not predicting that lighting up the bridge will suddenly bring life to downtown but I believe it’s another piece of the puzzle, just like the soon-to-be constructed footbridge.

Add all those pieces together and suddenly there’s a reason to go downtown. Once a new museum/library is built and the Esplanade gets even more vibrant, the puzzle starts to come together.

The city is spending millions on revitalizing downtown, which it should. The infrastructure needed it, the streets needed it and the city needed it.

There will always be the naysayers who shout that the city shouldn’t be wasting money on flowers, murals or bridge lights. Their job is to keep taxes down, they’ll say.

I disagree. It’s not all about money; it’s as much about quality of life.

We’re blessed to live in an area filled with an abundance of natural beauty so why not enjoy it.

Light up the bridge so the mighty Columbia sparkles at night.

Build that footbridge so people can explore Trail on foot rather than flying through in a vehicle.

Highlight those murals to entice people to stop and stare for a moment at the artistry and history that the picture inspires.

Keep the covered stairs in tip-top shape to highlight Trail’s historical roots.

I’ve been in Trail for almost a quarter of a century but missed the days of barren hills and dying vegetation. Nevertheless, there are many people who still vividly remember those days and ugliness of it all.

Fortunately that’s not the Trail I’ve come to know and love. And for the people who witnessed those days, there is always a sense of pride of how far the city has come since those days.

That’s why the current flood of ideas during the entire revitalization process has been good.

Sure people complained about the traffic. They complained about some of the changes. And they’ll complain about something else tomorrow.

But the fact remains that every step, every change is an improvement. With those changes, people are inspired to come up with more ideas.

The city’s leaders should be open to any and all suggestions. And this is certainly a bright one.


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