The majority of Trail voters said ‘Yes’ to the city, so now a new bridge might not be just a pipe dream.
And it wasn’t even a close call after 1,565 Trail electors marked their ballots affirmatively during the Columbia River Utilities/Pedestrian Bridge referendum, compared to 411 saying ‘No.’
The final results show almost 35 per cent of Trail’s voting populace cast a ballot during the referendum that asked assent for the city to borrow almost $5 million for a shore-to-shore pathway over the Columbia River.
“We are extremely pleased with the results of this referendum,” said Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs in a Saturday evening news release. “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 is pleased that residents and property owners share in the city’s long-term vision of growth and revitalization.
“This is a one-time opportunity to work in partnership with the RDKB 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.”
Overall, 1,976 votes were cast from 5,733 registered Trail voters.
With the voting results leaning so favourably in the positive, one Trail man who’s been vocal in his opposition to the potential project, says he isn’t too surprised with how the referendum played out.
“It’s not surprising,” said Norm Gabana, himself a former Trail councillor. “When you offer someone something for free, of course you’re going to get a line-up.”
The city will continue meetings with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) to solidify costs for the sewer/utilities apportionment and to prepare final engineering details for the pedestrian walkway.
“Additionally, the city will endeavour to work with the Ministry of Transportation in respect to provincial funds that could contribute to the project,” added Bogs.
But before any ground-breaking happens, Trail has to reach an agreement with sewer partners in Rossland and Warfield over the route of a new regional sewer line, which is the impetus behind building a footbridge.
“I am hopeful that as a regional committee we will be able to secure the pipe bridge as it also provides several advantages to the other two groups (Rossland and Warfield),” explained Robert Cacchioni, Trail’s councillor, RDKB director and chair of the regional sewer committee. “With hospital emergency access and the advantage of having a risk free and accessible line that can be serviced easily and cheaply, by the walking portion.”
After a May counter petition garnered enough signatures (at least 573) to quash the city from borrowing almost $5 million through the Alternative Approval Process, Trail council opted to push the matter to the August referendum.
On the heels of that action, came “citizens in support of the pedestrian walkway,” an informal group of Trail people in support of voting ‘Yes’ for a second river crossing.
“What I am really pleased about is that it wasn’t a close vote,” said Keith Smyth, an East Trail man who spearheaded the vote ‘Yes’ initiative in early August. “Because I think if it were close you’d be wondering about the thing forever. I see this as a big bonus for the city to move ahead and open things up.”
With the majority of Trail voters passing the referendum, Smyth maintains it’s time to move on, but it’s crucial to keep the spotlight on city politics in light of the November 15 civic election.
“The degree of interest this has caused on both sides has raised awareness about what goes on in the city,” he noted. “But we can’t pick sides now and have to move on because the library referendum is coming up.”