Community Papers

Sponsors care for iconic stairs

Debra Barembruch, owner at Amore
Debra Barembruch, owner at Amore's Ristorante in Trail, poses with her plaque at the top of the set of the covered stairs she sponsored and spends her time volunteering to pick up litter and keep the stairs clean. Barembruch is one of a group of Trail residents who have taken on the task of adopting one of the famous Trail covered staircases. The goal is to promote pride in the community.
— image credit: Liz Bevan

With over two kilometres of steps spread out over 63 sets of covered stairways in Trail, upkeep is a huge job and community members have stepped up to pitch in make sure an iconic part of the city stays clean and pristine.

Communities in Bloom (CiB) has started program where community members can sign up to sponsor a flight of stairs and get cleaning.

Dan Haley, local business owner and stair sponsor, says it's all about maintaining pride in the community.

“It is important that they are clean, but the most important thing from our perspective is that we are showing the community that we care and the community is important to us,” he said while hanging plaques recognizing sponsors.

“You have to keep it clean to get people to respect (the stairs). Generally, if it is clean when you get there, you are going to keep it clean.”

Haley also has a personal connection to the covered stairs throughout  the city. He has been running up them for as long as he can remember.

“They have always been important to me because in the old days, I would run up those stairs, frontwards, backwards, sideways, all over,” he said, adding that his whole family used and appreciated the stairs.

“My father ran up the stairs, my brothers and sister ran up those stairs and I just love the days in my memories going back and I think it is very important to keep them clean.”

Lana Rodlie, of the CiB committee, says the idea of sponsored stairs came about a few years ago, but it wasn't until CiB judges came to Trail and mentioned the garbage on the stairs that the program got into full swing.

“One of our committee members suggested it years ago that maybe we should have a program like this, but it sort of got lost in the shuffle of everything that we do,” she said.

“It really got started because (CiB) judges had pointed it out several times. When you come into Trail from Castlegar, down the hill, you look across and you see stairs. If there is any garbage there, it is very visible. There was garbage all over the hillside and one of the judges said that this was one of our problem areas.”

Debra Barembach, owner at Amore's Restaurant in Trail, has signed up the help out near her restaurant, and look after a hidden gem in the area – a park snuggled between two flights of the famous covered stairs.

“I started looking after the park when I was taking my dog for a walk and came across it,” she said, adding that the park could be used for community events and more.

“I couldn't believe it was just sitting there and it was so unappreciated and unused. It was something nobody was looking after. The city has stopped looking after it and they even stopped mowing the lawns, so I just decided to start looking after it myself.”

The clean up of the stairs leading to the hidden park came after, since Barembach was walking up them to get to the park to mow grass and pick up litter.

“I thought, I might as well [clean up the stairs too] and I've been doing it ever since,” she said, mentioning that her motivation was to increase use of the park.

“The city can now see that we take pride in it. Families are going through all the time. I've had people tell me they used to take their kids there and now they do again every time I clean up.”

So far, seven local businesses and groups have signed up to take care of different staircases, and in the case of pizza maker Rustic Crust, a tunnel going under Bailey Street.

To sign up, sponsor a set of stairs and put a little elbow grease into keeping Trail clean, call Lana Rodlie at 250-368-9227.

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