It seems as though the province is finally getting on board the Kinsol Trestle program. Friday, the Premier announced further funding of $1.6 million towards the demolition and reconstruction of the 80-year old trestle. These funds will further the $1.5 million plus the sale proceeds of scrap lumber from the existing bridge towards the new bridge.
What hasn’t been released or recognized to date, is the dollar figure from the proceeds of the scrap lumber. Sources at the CVRD level are completely silenced in this supposed public offering. Brian Farquhar of Parks has been quoted as saying “it’s a done deal. The old bridge is too old, and unfortunately, must come down”.
Interestingly enough, the Chairman of the Board for the CVRD, Jack Peak, is still optimistic that wood in the old bridge will be used to rebuild the new structure. If additional funds are found, the CVRD has acknowledged that the old trestle could be authentically replicated. The difference between the new stick bridge’s cost and a full rebuild of the old bridge, quoting Brian Farquhar, is a $1.5 million difference. That in today’s terms of Government programs is not a lot of money.
While engineering reports indicate the old bridge could stand to be re-fitted and restored completely, these claims are being refuted by the parks board. Apparently, they see no value in heritage tourism. As the Kinsol Trestle stands today, April 15th, 2007, there were countless people on the right-of-way this morning walking up to see the historic spectacle. One onlooker was overheard to say “when this bridge is replaced with the new one, it will closely resemble the old bridge but we won’t come here anymore. It will be a copy using half the wood.”
Sentiments like these stretch far beyond pure emotion. If the bridge were completely rebuilt using the original design, it would pay for itself as a premium offering within 10 years through increased constituency. The combination of recreational trail users when added with heritage buffs celebrating a world level tourism giant, would easily pay for the premium and make the trail self-sufficient cost-wise for maintenance,while at present it is largely subsidised by the Rotary chapters of the area,among others.
The success of this trail’s future will not be fully realized without effectively celebrating it’s past. The increased popularity of Shawnigan lake and area will help make the Kinsol Trestle a world level attraction and a purely Canadian one at that. The west was built on the railway.To build a mere wooden bridge over the Koksilah river and call it the Kinsol Trestle,is like putting vinyl siding on The Empress Hotel.
So the call is clear .The CVRD must roll up their sleeves in fundraising in order to fully replicate the original Kinsol Trestle. Half measures will only give future generations of British Columbians half a bridge to appreciate-that’s if they stop to see what it is they are crossing over……At present we gaze in wonder at the original.