Why a new North Thompson bridge is a good idea

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
April 11, 2018 - 5:00am Updated: April 11, 2018 - 11:01am
McLure Ferry
McLure Ferry Image Credit: Mel Rothenburger

THE RECENT DISCUSSION on the Armchair Mayor about scrapping plans for the Singh Street Bridge raised questions about the need for a new crossing on the North Thompson River.

Why not a crossing between Westsyde and Rayleigh or Heffley, some asked?

This is a good point. The lack of a bridge anywhere north of the Halston adds a tremendous amount of time, and greenhouse gases, for anyone having to travel from one side of the river to the other.

In my own case, for example, living north of Westsyde and the City boundaries, the difference between travelling to McLure when the ferry is running, and having to go the long way around when it isn’t, is the difference between 15 minutes and an hour.

As beautiful as our river setting is, it’s been a challenge from the beginning. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, there was much lobbying for a bridge at the site of what is now the Overlanders Bridge.

It was pointed out at the time that driving cattle or horses from the South Shore to the North Shore or vice versa involved going all the way to Savona and then north or south along Kamloops Lake.

A few years ago, the Whispering Pines Band lobbied unsuccessfully for a bridge to replace the McLure ferry. It failed because it would have cost $50 million. I imagine a bridge closer to town would be in the neighbourhood of $100 million.

So who would pay for it? Well, the provincial government recently decided to put up $1.3 billion for a new Pattullo Bridge between Surrey and New Westminster, part of a $14.6-billion infrastructure plan.

The law makers in Victoria need to look past the Lower Mainland and understand the importance of the B.C. Interior to the prosperity and lifestyle of the province. There’s life outside Greater Vancouver.

So, yes, projects like a new span across the North Thompson are worth taking seriously.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.