City to lobby for bridge upgrades
A flood of letters from the public pushing for the replacement or the Salmon River Bridge and a related flood risk assessment will be channelled into one letter by the City of Salmon Arm.
The letters from the public were submitted to the city in response to the B.C. government’s proposed four-laning project for the west end of town. Currently it is the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s plan to widen the Trans-Canada Highway between 30th Street SW and 10 Street SW. The ministry is seeking feedback on how to spend roughly $510 million of a $650 million funding commitment by the province to four-lane the highway between Kamloops and the Alberta border.
Salmon Arm residents and council gave a clear message that the Salmon River Bridge needs to be addressed as a short-term priority, and council has agreed to formalize the shared sentiment in a letter to the ministry.
Coun. Chad Eliason recommended the written communication at Monday’s council meeting, while councillors were discussing the past two week’s correspondence, including several letters relating to the desired bridge replacement and flood risk assessment.
Eliason asked that council’s letter include the former, but not the latter. He also asked that a pedestrian walkway be considered with the bridge construction, and that an intersection with traffic lights be built rather than the current SmartCentres’ design.
Coun. Marg Kentel suggested adding the flood plain assessment, noting it’s possible the province might pay for its completion.
Eliason accepted Kentel’s recommended amendment, stating that while he had excluded the item from his proposal, he would support her proposed amendment.
“I don’t think we will see the bridge any time in the immediate future, so if we ask that now, that they include the flood-risk prevention measures… it would be prudent on our behalf,” said Eliason.
Coun. Ken Jamieson said the Salmon River Bridge has been a pet project of his for years, and a topic of discussion with three different ministers.
“And it’s always three to five years,” said Jamieson. “Well, we must be close to three to five years. In fact, I suggest we’re at that year where it should be done.”
Coun. Alan Harrison agreed with the recommendations, but felt the letter should be simple and to the point, focusing only on replacing the bridge and the flood assessment.
“I don’t think we need to talk anything about who is paying for it,” said Harrison. “We’re asking them to do it. And then we see what response we get.”
Harrison, however, chose to support the points recommended by Eliason, as did the rest of council, though there were still differences of opinion. Jamieson called the final recommendation “watered down,” and said the language isn’t strong enough, while Mayor Nancy Cooper was confident the province would take all the necessary measures regarding the environment and flood risk.
“I think our talking about a flood plain hazard assessment, I’m certain they’d look at it as something they would do anyway,” said Cooper.