Airdrie City council has designated additional funds to the restoration of the 1928 Nose Creek Bridge to the Elevators.
At a regular meeting June 1, council approved a budget adjustment of roughly $102,000 to help complete the restoration project.
According to Ryan Couilliard, municipal engineering technologist with the City of Airdrie, the bridge was designated as a Municipal Historic Resource (MHR) in 2019, changing the nature of the type of work required for the project.
“Once that designation change happened, the bridge project turned from a rehabilitation to a restoration project,” Couilliard said. “In short, what that means is that the original plan to change wooden elements with modern construction elements was no longer feasible and we had to replace wooden elements with wooden elements.”
In a June 1 presentation to the City’s Council Budget Committee (CBC), Couilliard said the designation change also put a greater emphasis on creating a complete amenity space for the public, with the idea of bringing the bridge – which was built in 1928 – back to its original look and feel.
Along with the restoration work, the City plans to install benches plants and interpretive plaques in the area surrounding the bridge.
Couilliard told CBC $101,790 was needed to complete the extra work. That shortfall could be mitigated by redirecting excess funds from the Gas Tax Funding grant for three other bridge projects the City is undertaking, he said. Another option was dipping into the Trans Canada Trail grant – an $80,000 grant the City secured in 2018 – as the pathway connection links to the national trail system.
Further potential funding, he said, would come from the Creekside developer’s obligation to contribute $100,000 towards pathway and landscaping connecting to the bridge. According to Couilliard, those funds are currently secured within a letter of credit.
CBC endorsed the budget amendment unanimously and City council also approved it later that evening.
“Not everyone likes to see increased expenses on a budget line item, but at the end of the day, I believe this to be in the best interest of our community and I’m looking forward to supporting it,” Mayor Peter Brown said. “I’ve gone by there several times and I can see the potential. It’s going to be a great piece of historical [significance], of which we have very little in the community.”
According to the City’s community development department, the bridge’s historical significance stems from it being the last remaining piece of Airdrie's railway heritage, following the closure and eventual demolition of the community’s Alberta Wheat Pool elevators.
Though she was in favour of the budget amendment, Coun. Candice Kolson said she was surprised at the amount.
“Any time we see those improvements, I’m all for it,” she said. “It’s just unfortunate because it’s a weird time for us to come before CBC when we just had to cancel a few projects and try to extend the life of some others.”
According to Bob Neale, manager of Capital Projects and Infrastructure, the structural restoration of the bridge is complete. All that remains is to finish the enhanced landscaping, pathway and amenity features, which he said are contractually required to be completed by September.
“However, we are hoping that work will progress quickly so residents can have the use of the area during the summer months,” he said.
Scott Strasser, hzlatk.com
Follow me on Twitter @scottstrasser19