The Columbia River Skywalk, which opened in December 2016, has been recognized with the the BC Recreation and Parks Association 2018 Parks Excellence Award. (Guy Bertrand photo)

Columbia River Skywalk garners B.C. excellence award

Trail recognized with a 2018 Parks Excellence Award from BC Recreation and Parks Association

We know how magnificent our Columbia River Skywalk is – now the rest of the province knows as well.

“I can’t recall ever going across a bridge as unique as this pedestrian bridge,” now-retired Trail engineer, Warren Proulx, told the Times in December 2016. “The design and appearance is something everyone should witness.”

Proulx’s foresight rang true again this week when the City of Trail was acknowledged with a prestigious award for the one-of-a-kind river crossing.

On Wednesday, the BC Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) presented Trail with a 2018 Parks Excellence Award for the Columbia River Skywalk.

The award recognizes a unique example of excellence in the concept, design and development of parks and open spaces.

“Trail is very honoured to receive this award and we extend our deepest gratitude to the BCRPA,” said Mayor Mike Martin. “The Skywalk project was a vision of many with a long history. To see it finally come to fruition in 2016 was a momentous occasion for Trail and our neighbouring communities. The bridge has become a welcoming landmark structure in our region that represents dedication, collaboration and the direction of our future.”

The association touts the Columbia River Skywalk as a project that specifically addressed issues related to Trail’s walkability and connectivity as the west and east communities are separated by the mighty Columbia River.

“Prior to this project, the only other means to cross the river was via the main traffic bridge’s walkway, which was noted as feeling unsafe by pedestrians,” the BCRPA stated. “The connection to other urban trail systems, the installation of onramps, and the grade and width of the bridge have ensured 100 per cent accessibility to users of all abilities.”

The association noted the Skywalk was built on a cycling and walking route through the community, and features LED lighting, viewpoints, park benches, and is part of a popular two-kilometre “bridge to bridge” walking loop through town.

“We are very proud that the Skywalk is part of the Trans Canada Society’s Great Trail network,” said Martin. “This feature, along with the bridge’s distinctive architectural design and spectacular views of the Columbia River, will continue to encourage tourism to the area while increasing our City’s walkability and recreation.”

The Parks Excellence Award is one of five provincial awards presented at the BCRPA’s annual Symposium today in Vancouver. The conference brings together members of the recreation and parks sector from across BC, including elected officials, volunteers, members of the business community and others interested in building and sustaining active, healthy lifestyles and communities in BC.

“We are honored to award the City of Trail the BCRPA Parks Excellence Award for their work on the Columbia River Skywalk project,” said Rebecca Tunnacliffe, CEO of the BC Recreation and Parks Association. “This ambitious project has quite literally brought the community together while serving to vault liveability, economic opportunity, and connection to the outdoors for all Trail’s citizens.”

Bridge construction took 14 months with a total cost of $15.5 million, making it the City of Trail’s largest capital project to date. With nearly 500 people in attendance, the bridge officially opened on Dec. 15, 2016.

Last fall, the Skywalk’s general contractor, Graham Infrastructure LP, was recognized for the build with a Silver Award of Excellence by the Vancouver Regional Construction Association.

The BCRPA also notes: The Skywalk provides an incredible number of direct benefits to the community and surrounding area. Social Benefits: It encourages active recreation, in particular walking and biking, throughout the community. Economic Benefits: It attracts tourism to the community, draws people to the downtown core, connects both sides of the community, and it forms part of the downtown revitalization plan for the community. This project also provides opportunities for the community to grow. Environmental Benefits: Ensuring that the risk of pollutants that could enter the Columbia River were properly contained (new sewer line) was a primary objective of this project. . A safe option, which will reduce driving pollutants, is now available for people to walk or bike to work or visit the downtown area.

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