On Sept. 16, a crowd gathered at the Fairy Creek Bridge for a ribbon cutting ceremony in honour of the new infrastructure. Members of the groups that supported the project, including the Fernie Trails Alliance (FTA), Fernie Mountain Bike Club (FMBC), and the Fernie Chamber of Commerce were in attendance. Local politicians including Mayor Mary Giuliano, RDEK Area A Director Mike Sosnowski, Columbia Basin Trust board member Mike Delich and MLA Bill Bennett were also on hand for the ceremony.
Local dignitaries were given the opportunity to speak about the project and the amount of work and support that went into seeing it through to fruition. Mayor Giuliano was first to speak, and took the opportunity to recognize everyone who had a hand in the project.
“I want to say congratulations on this official opening of the Fairy Creek Bridge and this structure wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the work of the Fernie Trails Alliance. So on behalf of City Council, I want to say thank you to all of the members for their vision and hard work,” she said, also thanking Minister Bennett and the Ministry of Transportation for their financial support.
Delich spoke on behalf of the CBT, as they provided in excess of $150,000 to the project. The money came from the Recreation Infrastructure Grant, which is a three-year program worth $9 million.
“We heard from residents that recreation, mobility, health and wellness and physical activity are important to them and the trust is committed to increasing these opportunities in this area,” said Delich. “This new program supports community efforts to create recreational infrastructure and encourages residents to have an active and healthy lifestyle. So far, in 2016, this program has provided funds for 145 kilometres of new trail construction and 24 new trails.”
As RDEK Area A director, Sosnowski told the story of how the project received its first bit of funding, crediting Bennett for finding the money and making sure it returned to his constituency.
“That was our first grant moving forward. It got some money in the kitty to move this project forward,” said Sosnowski. “It’s having an MLA like Bill Bennett that brings money home to us, back to his constituency.”
Minister Bennett was the last to speak about the project, saying the project exceeded his original expectations.
“When you guys were talking about a bridge across a creek, I thought a couple of log stringers, some two inch planks – probably not even any fence or rail. I came through here, saw the bridge not too long ago for the first time and you have actually made it into something a whole lot more important, I think, than just a way across the creek. It looks real cool from both directions. It really fits in with Fernie’s mountain culture,” said Bennett. “Congratulations to the people who had the imagination to think of this and what it could look like and also the grit and determination to make it happen.”
The Fairy Creek bridge is a project that was over three years in the making. Construction of the structure began in the spring, and it was opened to the public on Aug. 3.