Kitimat Council discusses $33,000 proposal to keep Duck Creek Bridge open

Councillors heard the pitch to keep the bridge open as a gateway to outdoor access on Clague Mountain.

Is Duck Creek Bridge worth $33,000 to the District of Kitimat?

Councillors were wrapping their heads around that question  as a deadline of Nov. 1 looms to make a choice, or else see the bridge get taken away.

The loss of that bridge would be felt by many in the community, notably the Kitimat Snowmobile and Hikers Club, of which their president Chad Fournier was present for a special Oct. 22 council meeting.

Also there to present the situation was Brian Wakita, owner of JHW Construction, and Peter Ponter, a concerned citizen on this issue.

The core of the matter is that the Duck Creek Bridge is coming to the end of its life. The Rio Tinto Alcan owned structure is already marked as a “drive at your own risk” bridge and according to e-mails from RTA’s Regional Economic Development Manager Kevin Dobbin, the company is leaning towards closing the bridge, but have not yet ruled out any other option.

A bridge company already in town working on Little Wedeene Bridge, and needing a stable bridge over Duck Creek, quoted $30,000 to RTA to bring in a re-decked bridge bought from the Forest Service to put over the existing Duck Creek Bridge as a temporary measure. (It wasn’t clear how temporary it would be.)

Putting in that bridge would give time to all involved parties to discuss what they want to do for a permanent solution to the crossing; to make the bridge crossing permanent is estimated at an additional $30,000.

According to Brian Wakita in e-mails to the District of Kitimat, RTA didn’t respond in time to Surespan’s suggestion (the timeline given by Surespan was quite short) so Surespan has rented a bridge and will be removing it once their work is done in mid-November.

Surespan has since indicated that they would still bring in that re-decked bridge and place it where their rented bridge is now at the end of their job. To do so now will cost an additional $3,000, or $33,000.

That all lead to a discussion at a special meeting of council, where the District was asked to pay that $33,000, primarily to benefit the many back-country recreation users in the community.

“We will definitely be negatively impacted if a speedy solution is not come to,” said Chad Fournier, the president of the Kitimat Snowmobile and Hikers Club. “We’re getting into the winter season now and if there’s nothing in place for the near future, and certainly looking down the road, we run the risk of losing the use of [our] cabin.”

The club opened a new cabin on Clague Mountain earlier this year.

The direction of Council for now is for Kitimat staff to get in touch with RTA and other industries who may need use of that road and bridge to find solutions to keeping the bridge active.

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