This past week the internationally acclaimed restoration firm, Macdonald _ Lawrence, has shown interest in working to preserve the Kinsol Trestle. While they plan for a journey back to Antarctica to restore world heritage exploration huts, they can’t help but look over their shoulders (they now reside here)at the Ministry of Transportation and the Premier’s office and wonder how the province would let the Kinsol Trestle fall here in B.C. This comes on the heals of Premier Gordon Campbell’s announcement of a 1.6 million dollar commitment to opening the Koksilah river crossing this week.” We now have to go full meal deal on this full restoration,” Mayor Jack Peak commented Friday.
When Windsor Castle burned in the UK, this duo worked on restoration that was complex and involved heavy post and beam construction of great significance. The Kinsol is no different. The effort to work at height on a significant structure in heavy timber is second nature to this crew. Whether the door to restoration will be opened up as an option to demolition and replacement with a cheaper variant, this must be explored further. The premium of restoring the original will be offset by the increased numbers who will flock to celebrate the restored crossing. Macdonald and Lawrence believe the restoration of the original trestle could be done for less then the CVRD projected costs.As for the calibre of workmanship-has anyone been to Windsor castle and seen the repair? It speaks volumes to the talent of these men.
To realize the 2010 trail’s full potential with a bridge as grand as the original Kinsol Trestle, with its roots in 1910, will be a great opener for the trail. To consider the cross promotion of the CN Railways in Canada ,Olympics,and the Trans Canada Trail: surely the Federal Government needs to start communications and play a larger role this significant,yet overlooked program.( The true “last spike” in the CPR is 8 km from The Kinsol!) The bridge is slated for demolition according to the CVRD, who would really like to see the bridge preserved and held as a focal point for a successful trail opening. Instead, the local community may have to watch as the soon-to-be century-old bridge, spanning the Koksilah River is transformed into a scar on the landscape. Proceeds from the sale of good wood remaining in the bridge is rumoured to be significant.
Trails like the Cowichan 2010 are made even more successful,when unique features are used to market them. The Land Conservancy is eager to see their latest acquisition, Keating Farm coupled with the original Kinsol Trestle to form the historic portion of the trail. Cowichan Vineyards group are hopeful the Kinsol will have a joint spin off with their product.The MS Grape Escape ride will again this year visit the Kinsol as part of the fundraising drive to find a cure.
Is it another example of government bodies not collaborating or not sharing information? The CRD Parks and Trails committee have worked very hard to complete the Malahat connector just in time to see the Kinsol looming in the distance as a last and final program. Will the energy of CRD planners initiate a change in the goals of the CVRD board? Macdonald _ Lawrence certainly hope so, as their passion for restoration and the challenge of a remarkable assignment complete their portfolio in Canada. The original historic Kinsol Trestle is, and should remain, the gateway to the Cowichan Valley. The fabulous history of this area can be preserved if parties work together to celebrate it’s future, as opposed to ensuring it’s demise.