Built it and they will come. That is the mantra for Grace McGregor, RDKB director for Christina Lake, and the pedestrian bridge she and others hope to erect.
The bridge location would be where the old highway used to go, just a few metres away from where the Highway 3 bridge is.
“We want people to be able to go for a walk, stop at the Welcome Centre if they want, come down here, go across and they could go up to the pickle ball and the exercise area and community hall, and loop around and come back,” said McGregor from the bridge site. “A lot of people do walk and they walk over and get the mail or to the store but a lot don’t like that (Highway 3) bridge.”
McGregor said she’s been using the Highway 3 bridge since it was built in 1962 and it’s never been pleasant to walk on. “It also doesn’t have much room for wheelchairs and scooters,” she said, “and it’s dangerous for kids. It’s also dangerous for kids to cross the highway. We’ve been trying to get the Ministry of Transportation for eons trying to get either some caution lights up there or a crosswalk and we continue to work on that.”
McGregor said the pedestrian bridge has been in the works for several years.
“When we at parks and recreation started talking about this years ago, this was John Pratt’s dream,” she said. “Even before we had a parks and rec, John was part of a committee and they actually had some plans for a walking trail. His family continues to hold that dream. I too agree it would be really nice if we could do it. How are we going to do it is a big issue.”
McGregor said the bridge would cost about $1.2 million. “Do we have that kind of money? Absolutely not. Am I going to tax for that? Absolutely not,” she said. “When the grants come down it’s all about being shovel-ready or shelf-ready. We want this to be engineered and ready so if there are grants out there we want to be ready to apply.”
McGregor reiterated that they would not raise taxes in Christina Lake to pay for the pedestrian bridge project.
Not everyone at the Lake is in favour of the project. Some of the residents living on the road to the proposed bridge site do not want increase foot traffic in their neighbourhood.
McGregor said that there are also some that would like to see the pedestrian bridge on the other side of the highway since there is no crosswalk in the area.
In order to gauge public opinion, the RDKB held an open house at Christina Lake on Aug. 20 at the community hall. There was also an online survey on the RDKB website.
“We wanted to have the public meeting to put it all together so we could see who would benefit, how many people are in favour, how many are dead set against it,” said McGregor.
McGregor said they are still compiling the results and expect to complete the feasibility study in October.
“I think we’ve been successful in talking to people,” she said. “We’ve had it on the website, we’ve sat down with people one on one, we’ve had people fill out forms, we had the public meeting. I don’t think we can do much more. That’s all part of the process. It looks really good when you apply for a grant that you’ve actually talked to your community.”