The East Trail approach of the Columbia River Skywalk on Tuesday

Long journey to the Columbia River Skywalk

Anticipation is in the air as many await their first walk across the Columbia River Skywalk on Thursday afternoon.

Anticipation is in the air as many await their first walk across the Columbia River Skywalk on Thursday afternoon.

By all accounts, the build of Trail’s new landmark feature was quite seamless after ground broke in the fall of 2015. But the road in getting to this point?

That was indeed full of twists and turns.

The $15 .7 million project was controversial from the start. The first mention in the Trail Times was from reporter Valerie Rossi back in early 2011, when the regional sewer committee began seriously weighing options to replace the aging utility line slung across the river on the Old Trail Bridge.

Many studies later and countless discussions at the regional table brought Trail and service partners in Warfield and Rossland to where things stand today the opening of a new walkway that disguises the sewer line below.

But like most political tales, there’s much more to the story than that.

Once regional partners half-heartedly agreed to an aerial sewer pipe three years later, the city moved ahead with what’s called an Alternative Approval process (AAP) in May 2014. Trail needed to borrow $5 million to build the pedestrian part of the project and sought loan authorization through an AAP (advertising intent in a local newspaper).

That’s when the project came to a screeching halt AAPs can be stopped if 10 per cent of the electorate (573 Trail voters) opposed the move.

The second week of May, that is exactly what happened. A counter-petition was filed at city hall with 1,200 signatures (573 signatories confirmed Trail voters) who were against the new walking bridge for one reason or another.

Some hung to the ideal that a third driving bridge was in order. This wish will likely never be granted, the ministry views the Victoria Street Bridge as two bridges for a town of 7,500 the two east and west bound lanes have the crossing designated a “superstructure”.

Aside from that, others questioned the plan to tear down the Old Trail Bridge, the need for a new sewer pipe in that location, and some avowed the pedestrian bridge was a waste of money, period.

Whatever the reason, the final outcome wasn’t even close after the matter was brought to referendum in August. The singular poll had 1,565 Trail voters marking their ballots affirmative compared to 411 who stuck with, “No.”

The final results showed almost 35 per cent of city’s voting populace cast a ballot during the referendum thereby assenting the City of Trail to borrow $5 million for the shore-to-shore Columbia River pathway.

“We are extremely pleased with the results of this referendum,” then-Trail mayor Dieter Bogs told the Trail Times. “It’s wonderful to have the support of our citizens for a project that is so important for the future of our city.”

Bogs said Trail council worked several years to make progress and was pleased that residents and property owners shared in the city’s long-term vision of growth and revitalization.

“This is a one-time opportunity to work in partnership with the RDKB,” Bogs stated. “On a project that will contribute to the Downtown Revitalization Plan, develop community and region cohesiveness, improve walking and cycling routes and enhance the overall look of our city.”

During this time another hurdle popped up. In early August, the regional district re-investigated the project’s primary purpose of carrying sewer across the water via a pipe alternative routes were being looked at again, like a line through the downtown core and hung on the Victoria Street Bridge.

A staff report circulated that there were cheaper ways to pump liquid waste above and beneath the waterway, compared with the Skywalk’s aerial line.

Tensions mounted even more the next month, when regional board chair, Grace McGregor, made an unusual move she stepped in as chair of the regional sewer committee because emotions were running so high.

“When you have participants that are spending an awful lot of money, and we are talking about spending an awful lot of money,” McGregor told the Trail Times that September. “They need the freedom to be able to represent their respective councils at the table without the constraints of chairing a meeting.”

McGregor was referring to the contention between participants when</sp

Just Posted

Archery for all ages at Casino range

Archers from the Okanagan and Alberta joined locals at the two-day West Kootenay Archery Club Shoot

Updated: Columbia River low for another week

BC Hydro; Cold spring has river levels lower than normal for this time of year

Lead in house dust drops in Trail

“In general the results of the study are positive,” says Trail Mayor Mike Martin.

Earth Day in Columbia Gardens

The Trail and District Chamber hosted its second annual “Get your Garden Growing” session on Sunday

Student summit set for Castlegar

Keynote speakers are Kenneth McAlpine & Ryan Lachappelle from Team Give’r in the Amazing Race Canada

Toronto van attack suspect faces 10 counts of first-degree murder

The suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others on Monday is a 25-year-old man named Alek Minassian

B.C.’s living wage increase curbed due to MSP cuts, child care subsidy: report

Living wage varies between $16.51 in north central B.C. to $20.91 in Metro Vancouver

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

Inquest set 10 years after B.C. woman shot, left to die

Lisa Dudley, and her partner, Guthrie McKay were shot in their Mission home in September 2008

B.C. hockey team to retire Humboldt Bronco victim’s number

BCHL’s Surrey Eagles to retire Jaxon Joseph’s No. 10 in light of bus tragedy

B.C. Hells Angels invited to rally by anti-SOGI organizer

The Culture Guard group has helped Hells Angels in the past, said its executive director.

B.C. bill aims to keep Indigenous kids in communities, out of care

Changes to Child, Family and Community Service Act could connect MCFD, Indigenous communities

Most Read