The Elk River Pedestrian Bridge in Sparwood could be at risk without mitigation works. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Sparwood secures grant funding for bridge repairs

The district has secured $703,000 in funding from UBCM

Sparwood has managed to secure itself the pile of money it needed to shore up the river bank at the Elk River Pedestrian Bridge which connects the main town to Sparwood Heights.

The district has been approved for a cool $703,000 for the Elk River Pedestrian Bridge Stabilization Project, which is a plan to mitigate erosion to the southern bank of the river below the bridge. Efforts to obtain the funding in 2019 were unsuccessful.

The bank has eroded over 17 metres since the bridge was first constructed in 2012, putting the bridge and vital district water infrastructure at risk.

The district had applied for up to $750,000 in funding from provincial and federal sources, with the funding coming through from the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund which is administered by the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM).

Half of the funds will soon be transferred to the district, with the balance to be transferred later in the process.

Mayor David Wilks has described the bridge as being critical infrastructure to Sparwood residents given it’s location between major parts of the town, and it’s value in keeping pedestrians and bike riders off of Hwy. 43.

“It’s utilized mainly because it’s very close to the high school and FJM elementary school. The kids from the heights can ride their bikes in the spring, and the can beat the bus driving around picking everyone up.”

Due to environmental regulations, only a small window of time is open for works to be carried out in and around the Elk River in August. If the process to plan and carry out works is not ready by then, the project will be bumped in to 2022.

In other grant applications, the district was unsuccessful in securing funding for the Centennial Square Revitalization Project through the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP) – Rural Economic Recovery (RER) – which is a provincially-administered fund designed to help communities recover from COVID-19.

“You win some, you lose some,” said Wilks.

The district has funding set aside already for some phases of the revitalization project, and is still waiting on whether it is succesful in securing grant funding from two other applications.

READ MORE: Sparwood seeks proposals on erosion mitigation for crucial bridge
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