Community members of all ages gathered on Scout Island and the RC Cotton site to watch the installation of a new footbridge’s tresses on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 12 p.m.
Originally planned to be laid into place at 10 a.m., after a two-hour delay the crew of DBA Quality Excavating began a two-hour process of carefully lifting the large and solid metal main piece of the bridge into place. As they did children, Scout Island visitors and members of the Williams Lake Field Naturalists looked on and took photos.
The project was funded by the City of Williams Lake, with the help of a government grant that covered 75 per cent of the cost, and championed chiefly by City Coun. Scott Nelson who was all smiles at the installation. Nelson said this will go a long way to putting the lake back in Williams Lake.
“This has been a fantastic community project,” Nelson said.”When it’s done it’s going to be an absolutely fantastic project because it’s going to connect all of the trails in our community on this end of the lake.”
About two years ago, Nelson said, the City first acquired the property at the head of the lake and wanted to build a trail system that would connect with Scout Island and other parts of the lakecity. This bridge is the centrepiece of this initiative and something he was “thrilled and excited” to see go up.
The bridge is close to 200 feet long, Nelson said, and is made up of one complete span that weighs about 55,000 pounds that required two large cranes to lift into place.
Nelson said that the City is looking at developing the lakecity waterfront even more in the future and are looking at putting in a boat launch and extending the walkway down beside South Lakeside, among other projects. Their ultimate goal is to open up this side of the lake for the whole community, Nelson said.
“I’m over the hill, this is fantastic,” Nelson said, flashing a thumbs up.
While Ray Hornby, one of the directors on Scout Island’s board, welcomes the bridge he is cautious of the possible unintended impacts on Scout Island. Hornby said they’re eager to help with the development of the trail system in Williams Lake but hopes the public continues to use those located on Scout Island in a respectful manner.
“We’ve asked for the City to do something to control access, especially during the evening hours so we don’t have indiscriminate use, partying, this type of thing on the island,” Hornby said. “They’re going to put a gate on it and we’ll see how the gate operates.”
Hornby said they’ve asked for the gate to be on an automatic timer system so that no one person is responsible for locking and unlocking it.
He hopes the bridge will help people better understand Scout Island and it’s nature conservancy efforts in the area. As a ‘water fall area’ where animals and plant species lives he wants people to keep that in mind when using the island.
“We want to keep (Scout Island) as sort of the gem of Williams Lake,” Hornby said.
Both Hornby and Nelson confirmed that while construction will be completed by mid-November the bridge will not be made accessible to the public until the spring of 2020.