A suspended bridge to the future

Admit it, it’s going to be a little spooky walking across that bridge the first time

Alistair Taylor

I’m looking forward to the opening of the Elk Falls Canyon suspension bridge to the public Saturday.

In this day and age of finding alternative economic development, projects like this are the kind of thing that goes a long way to generating opportunities. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge project but when you add it to what’s already here – the Seawalk, the Museum, the Maritime Heritage Centre, Discovery Pier – it starts to build a critical mass of attractions that brings tourist dollars in.

And it really is a simple concept. Build a bridge over the canyon and they will come. It’s got the beautiful scenery, it’s got the fitness aspect of hiking the trails to and from the bridge and it’s got an element of perceived danger.

Admit it, it’s going to be a little spooky walking across that bridge the first time as the falls thunder beside you, the wind rocks the bridge slightly and the canyon plummets below you to the river bed.

It’s  brilliantly simple idea and kudos to the Rotary Club of Campbell River for making it happen.

Having just come back from a spring road trip to California, Oregon and Washington, my mind is always spinning with things I’ve seen that make me think “We could do that” or “If only we had something like that.”

Well, the suspension bridge is a prime attraction. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not Disneyland or anything but it’s somewhat unique and it gives you more bang for the bucks that went into it.

The entire project was estimated to cost $550,000 with the bridge making up $300,000 of the budget. The project was to be funded with $75,000 from Rotary, $150,000 from BC Hydro, and $325,000 from the Island Coastal Economic Trust.

Half a mil! How much will it cost to redevelop the Elk Falls mill site? I shudder to think. But the suspension bridge and other, small scale projects like it can have an immediate impact on the local economy.

But economics, schmeconomics. It’s just a cool thing. It instills pride in the community as we will all undoubtedly be bringing all our visiting friends and relatives up to the suspension bridge. Hiking the Moose Falls to Elk Falls trail is one of my favourite walks in the area and it’s a beautiful riverside stroll that ends up at the spectacular falls.

Now, I’ll extend the hike to include the suspension bridge.

Things like the bridge and the  Discovery Passage Aquarium are small but captivating attractions, spearheaded, it should be noted, by community organizations. Of course, they depend on monetary and other support from businesses and residents alike (and funding organizations).

It gets me to thinking that I hope that The Vacant Lot That Shall Not Be Named ends up with something of a similar nature that benefits the community in a way that instills the same pride, is attractive to visiors but also engenders participation by locals as much as anybody.

I’m sure the ideas are endless – for example, why not stick the carvings from the Transformations on the Shore down there after the festival finishes up in Willow Point?

Everybody loves to wander around the carvings. Give them a semi-permanent home. Won’t cost much.

We need more ideas but we also need proper packaging and promotion.

 

Alistair Taylor is editor of the Campbell River Mirror. editor@campbellrivermirror.com