Construction on a much-anticipated suspension bridge overlooking Elk Falls should begin this summer, according to the project chair.
Lorrie Bewza, the Elk Falls suspension bridge project chair, said $325,000 worth of funding recently received from Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) was the key piece Rotary needed to get its project off the paper and into the ground.
“The members of the Rotary Club of Campbell River are very excited to have the grant from Island Coastal Economic Trust approved,” Bewza said Monday. “In approving this grant, ICET ensures the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge project will be completed and have a long-term economic impact on tourism to Campbell River and region. We now have all the funds committed to start working on the Elk Falls suspension bridge.”
Bewza said Rotary hopes to begin some of the work on the bridge and new viewing platforms within the next couple of months. Bewza figures that once it’s designed, it should take about six to eight weeks to build.
The design process is the last major piece of the puzzle holding up construction, but that should fall into place soon.
“We need to complete an agreement with BC Parks as to how we are going to construct the bridge, viewing platforms and connecting trails within Elk Falls provincial park,” Bewza said. “Once that agreement is signed, we can start the archaeological, environmental and geo-technical studies which will allow us to prepare a request for proposals to send to prospective builders.
We have had excellent support from BC Parks and BC Hydro working toward the completion of the Elk Falls suspension bridge project and hope to begin some of the work this summer.”
The suspension bridge is expected to be 90 metres long and 72 metres above the bottom of Elk Falls canyon (just below the waterfall), making it the highest pedestrian only suspension bridge in Canada.
Access to the bridge would be from the Millennium Trail which runs from the existing Elk Falls parking lot to the John Hart Generating Station.
The project not only involves a suspension bridge, but two new viewing platforms – one which would be accessed from the lower parking lot and a second off the Millennium Trail. A brand-new trail would branch off the Millennium Trail and descend 10-12 metres down to the second new viewing platform, providing a direct, full-on view of the falls.
According to ICET, the overall project will also include an improved access road, expanded parking designed to accommodate tour buses and public washroom facilities, which will be constructed by BC Hydro in co-operation with BC Parks.
The entire project is estimated to cost $550,000 with the bridge making up $300,000 of the budget. The project is expected to be funded as follows: Rotary ($75,000), BC Hydro ($150,000), and ICET ($325,000).