Roads and Grounds Superintendent Patrick Gauvreau surveys repairs underway at the city’s longest staircase beside the bottle depot on Rossland Avenue.

City takes steps to improve covered stairs

Two events have prompted crew to beef up structures

A couple of upcoming events along Trail’s covered stairs has city staff taking to the course early with some much-needed reinforcement.

Roads and Grounds Superintendent Patrick Gauvreau and Brent Iachetta, city carpenter, have jumped on landings, pounded up and down stairs and shaken posts to see where weaknesses lie. They are now set out to make improvements in just two short months.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Gauvreau when the Trail Times took a tour of the longest set of stairs that stretches from the bottle depot on Rossland Avenue to Austad Lane Park.

“There’s lots of work that needs to be done with limited resources.”

The 225-step staircase is considered a worst-case scenario and is now a starting point. Photos were taken to document sections of the stairs that are rotting, wobbly or worn down.

After carefully mapping out what needs to be improved, the work has started.

Forty-plus stair treads need to be replaced alone, and that doesn’t include the odd stringer. Posts and even concrete has been poured to beef up the structure.

The city is going above and beyond its regular upkeep to ensure the stairs are ready for United Way’s fundraiser Storm the Stairs set for Sept. 12, and the Red Roofs Duathlon scheduled the following day.

Regular annual upkeep just won’t cut it for the number of participants expected to be running and walking along Trail’s iconic stairs.

“I may end up spending $20,000 just on this staircase, and I’ve got over a dozen more,” said Gauvreau, adding that this year’s budget for stairs’ upkeep is about $56,000.

A report documenting the health of the city’s stairs is in the process of being finalized and should make its way to city council shortly for review.

Until then, a small carpenter crew will continue to plug away at the first set of stairs. The costs associated with repairs will be tallied and used to determine the bill to reinforce the remaining staircases included in the race routes.

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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