Brenda Dalzell is reluctant to just assume a Main Street bridge will be constructed.
The Sicamous resident and business owner is rallying other like-minded individuals who want a Main Street bridge to speak up and be heard by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“We’re just kind of making a stand, making it visual, standing up for our option, because MOTI is only giving us until the 18th,” said Dalzell, referring to the Feb. 18 deadline for public input on the two Bruhn Bridge replacement options proposed by the ministry: a five-lane bridge or a four-lane bridge with an additional bridge on the west end of Main Street.
Dalzell’s effort to get people to speak up in favour of a Main Street bridge began on Wednesday, Feb. 14, with a small gathering at Main Street Landing.
“I think… people who don’t want something, they’re always the loudest voice,” said Dalzell. “And I thought, you know what, so many people I’ve talked to are all in favour of it… it’s important that we make a stand and yes, people are assuming that it is the smart solution so that’s likely what’s going to happen. But you can’t assume. You’ve got to at least stand up and say, ‘Hey everybody, look at us, we want it, we love it.'”
Joining Dalzell were representatives of various businesses, as well as residents wanting to show their support.
Paradise Hotel owner Cynthia Willey challenged concerns raised about additional traffic the Main Street bridge would bring, saying large dump trucks were going up and down Main Street every 10 minutes, gathering snow for the Feb. 10-11 Snow Fest, without incident.
“There was an increased amount of traffic and it didn’t affect anybody. They all went through the school zone, nobody got hurt…,” said Willey. “I’m telling you, to make Sicamous grow, to have opportunities to hire people that want to work, that come to this area that enjoy everything that we have to offer, it’s the only solution that they’ve presented and I’m all for it.”
Resident Rick Charleston, who lives on the west side of the Bruhn Bridge, says his property will be impacted regardless of which bridge option the ministry chooses.
“But I think, for the sake of the town, the Main Street Bridge is a must; it will bring life back to the downtown of Sicamous. It’s something we’ve needed for years and years,” said Charleston.
Inkx Design Solutions owner Tia Lemieux said a Main Street bridge would be a catalyst for needed growth.
“My reasons behind this is I’ve been here so long and we haven’t seen a lot of growth in Sicamous,” said Lemieux. “We don’t want to just be a bedroom community, we want to be a self-sufficient community so we can support our residents here, our seniors… I feel with the improvement of putting a bridge across, it is a focal point to downtown and it is just the beginning of growth for our community.”
A petition in support of the four-lane/Main Street bridge option is currently available at Inkx on Main Street. Dalzell plans to submit that information to MOTI by the Feb. 18 deadline for public input.
Results of MOTI survey conducted between Nov. 15, 2016 and Jan. 15, 2017 show a majority of respondents (65 per cent) were favour of the five-lane bridge, while 35 per cent were in favour of the four lane/Main Street bridge option.
A petition with more than 600 signatures of people opposed to the Main Street bridge option was submitted to the District of Sicamous in Sept. 2017.
At a MOTI open house held earlier this month, ministry staff said the province would take ownership of the Main Street bridge should one be constructed. This decision, project director Jennifer Fraser explained, was in response to concerns shared by residents and the District that Sicamous that the district would be shouldered with maintenance and replacement costs.