In what was described as the perfect spring day, the community of Sparwood, along with honoured dignitaries celebrated the grand opening of Iron Rails overpass. This project is composed of two parts, Iron Rails Overpass and the 116 meter Elk River Bridge which along with a 500 meter trail system join to link Sparwood Heights to Sparwood’s center with a beautiful and safe trail system. This project also allows residents to safely cross the train tracks, and rivers, while shortening the previous walk from five kilometers to now less than two. “I am so proud to be here,” says Dave Wilks MP, a speaker at the grand opening celebration. “Finally Sparwood has a direct link between Sparwood Heights and Sparwood proper. It is safe and well lit up with solar lights,” says Wilks. Bill Bennett, MLA was also in attendance and spoke of his happiness to see this project complete. “I am really pleased to be here celebrating the grand opening,” says Bennett. “This is such a beautiful walking trail and a great success for the people of Sparwood. This is a project where all three levels of government and several different projects came together to make it happen. It is certainly a project that adds to public safety,” says Bennett. Bennett also touched on the uniqueness and significance of the project in the removal of water and sewer lines from the Elk River bed to their relocation being under the bridge, solving ongoing environmental concerns.
To fund this project, the governments of Canada, British Columbia and Sparwood each committed $707 000 under the infrastructure stimulus fund as well as $53 000 from Canada’s Gas Tax fund for the Iron Rails Overpass, and $115 000 from the same fund for the Elk River Bridge. The Government of British Columbia also contributed one million dollars from the LocalMotion program as well as $400 000 from Towns for Tomorrow. The remaining costs of over 2.1 million dollars were covered by the District of Sparwood.
“I am really thankful for all the sources of funding, that everything came together for this project,” says Sparwood Mayor Lois Halko. “We are just thrilled with the completion of this project. It is such a beautiful walk that really links our community,” says Halko. “It is a opens up access to a new park area Sparwood is working on developing, provides a scenic view to a wetland area now coined the’ Jewel’ and offers stunning views of the Elk River,” she says.
As part of the grand opening of Iron Rails Overpass, the community gathered to walk this new trail system for Move for Health Day with the Mayor. The mayor, honoured guests and members of the public took a 1 k.m. stroll down the new trail, while others took a longer 4.5 km route. Sparwood logoed bags and water bottles were given out to those attending and free BBQ was held in celebration.
People of all ages and stages came out to enjoy the day. Seniors to toddlers, strolled, biked or ran on Iron Rails, enjoyed the celebrations. “It’s almost like a dream come true. It’s such a safe and beautiful walk for seniors and for everyone,” says Veronica Aragones.