City of Trail offers more clarification on proposed pedestrian bridge

Mayor Dieter Bogs offers clarification on the walking bridge proposal before Saturday's vote.

The purpose of this letter is to provide further clarification of the facts associated with the proposed Pedestrian/Utility Bridge in response to what would appear to be inaccurate or misleading information that is being disseminated to the public in an effort to discredit the City and the proposed project.

The public is being asked to vote on a bylaw that would provide the authority to borrow up to $4.916 million in support of the construction of a pedestrian bridge that would carry the regional sewer interceptor line, a City water line and conduit for fibre optics across the Columbia River.  The total estimated cost of the bridge is $9.816 million based on well-developed engineering plans.

It is emphasized that the project will only proceed if an agreement can be reached with the Regional District to jointly construct the proposed bridge.  The borrowing authority provides a financial limitation and therefore the City cannot give the regional district a “sweetheart deal” as some have suggested.  The final economic analysis must work for both organizations.

Some are saying there are less expensive options and most recently a $2.7 million estimate for the regional sewer line to be run back to the Victoria Street Bridge has been touted as the preferred option by people who oppose the bridge project.  Unfortunately, this estimate is far from being comprehensive and has not been fully engineered.

The Regional Sewer Committee meeting was cancelled in August due to the serious concerns with the estimate and Regional District staff supported this cancellation based on issues that were raised and the fact that the costing was not comprehensive nor did it consider the feasibility of running the line through the City.

Further at this time the Regional District does not have formal approval to use the Victoria Street Bridge and considerable engineering costs will need to be expended if this option is going to be pursued.

The proposed pedestrian/utility bridge project includes the immediate installation of a water line as part of the total construction estimate.

The need to have a second water crossing has long been identified as an issue that needs to be addressed; not only to provide redundancy but the second line will also result in a more efficient and effective water system.

The standalone cost to construct a second crossing in the future would be costly and the current proposal therefore provides a significant financial and service benefit to the City.

Finally, the construction of the proposed bridge will provide an enhancement to the City and greater region which extends far beyond the very narrow perspective that is being advanced by the opponents to the project. The public is encouraged to consider the project comprehensively including the financial and service advantages. Beyond this, Council has been working diligently on revitalizing the City and the construction of modern multi-purpose infrastructure would be a significant step forward.  The municipal share of the project will be paid for by Gas Taxes and result in no property tax increase.

Council has been fully transparent through the process and has undertaken efforts to ensure that the public is well informed with respect to the proposal and associated impacts.  There has been criticism with respect to the City providing this information but given the significance of the issue being advanced it is important that when people vote they are making an informed decision.  It became evident that there was inaccurate information being provided to entice people to sign the counter-petition.

Council hopes that the public will exercise their democratic right and “Help Shape Trail’s Future” with respect to this one time opportunity to take Trail to the next level as part of modernizing and reshaping the community as well as constructing critical infrastructure.

Dieter BogsMayor, City of Trail