Talk on a second bridge will hinge on receiving traffic stats on existing Haisla Bridge

Kitimat Council will look into information that may help them determine if a second bridge is needed over the Kitimat River.

District of Kitimat staff will gather statistics on how well used Haisla Bridge is.

Councillor Mary Murphy put forward the motion, in the hopes the information gathered could be brought to higher levels of government for future discussions on whether Kitimat should build a second river crossing.

The talk of needing a second Kitimat River crossing has been rising over the past several months, after the issue went quiet following a 1991 report saying the town didn’t need one.

But with construction and proposed more construction coming for across the river, the topic has been coming up again.

Murphy said she’s been seeing, especially through social media, many people talking about a bridge.

Not everyone was in favour of rushing into an investigation into a bridge.

Mario Feldhoff said council should hold off for the time being.

“What we’re doing is putting staff resources into this,” he said. “Is this more important than some other things we’ve discussed?”

He noted an upcoming strategic planning meeting with councillors regarding LNG impacts, and said they should talk about the issue further there, before committing staff time to the study.

“We don’t have the money to paint the existing bridge right now,” he added. “We need to engage the province and put in our prioritization list.”

Murphy noted that while the bridge has handled heavy loads of traffic for years, she’d still rather see a study for its current use.

Director of Engineering Tim Gleig told councillors that there had been two studies for a second bridge, one in 1970 and another in 1991 for the Ministry of Transportation. That 1991 study concluded the town did not need a second crossing.

The last study followed heavy construction in Kitimat during the 1980s.

“The traffic in 1981 when Ocelot was being constructed was a much larger effect on our community than with the construction so far today,” he said, noting that traffic could have been backed up from the Service Centre to Haisla Hill.

An attempt to refer the motion to following the council’s strategic planning meeting failed, and the motion to do the study passed, with Mario Feldhoff and Phil Germuth opposed.