The Regional District of Nanaimo board voted in favour of a horse-friendly option for a multi-use bridge over the Nanaimo River along the Morden Colliery Regional Trail.
Regional district board directors gave approval at their regular meeting Tuesday night for the bridge estimated to cost $1.6 million.
A feasibility study for the bridge was approved in October 2014, with accessibility for equestrian users also examined with residents and horse-riding groups. Based on consultation, which took place between December and February, 67 per cent of respondents favoured an equestrian option.
The steel truss bridge will be accessible to pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users and horses, but it is more expensive, with an estimated price tag of $1.6 million, as opposed to $1.4 million for an option that isn’t friendly to horse riders.
The bridge will require a wood deck and additional maintenance, as the deck will need to be replaced every 10 years, according to a regional district staff report.
The report said the project will be paid for through regional parks reserve money.
With the board approval, Wendy Marshall, regional district manager of parks services, said more work needs to be done before construction starts. It’s too early to estimate when construction would begin, she said.
“Once we have approval to get the equestrian bridge, then we’d have to go back and get the detailed designs done and we’d have to get the approvals in place from Ministry of Environment. There’s also agricultural land, so we need approvals from the [Agricultural Land Commission], so all those things have to happen,” said Marshall.
The regional district manages the Morden Colliery Regional Trail through a licence of occupation from the province.
With the bridge, there would be a continuous four-kilometre-long active transportation link between Cedar and South Wellington, according to the regional district report.