TIB, city want CN to help bridge river gap
It’s been 200 years since the fur traders who settled Kamloops first came in contact with the First Nations that lived in the area.
Two centuries later, politicians on both sides of the river are hoping to bridge the two communities literally — with a walking span across the Thompson.
The idea to build a walking bridge from Tk’emlups Indian Band land to Riverside Park — in an effort to keep people off the CN Rail bridge — has been in the works for years.
But, after little movement on the project, both the City of Kamloops and the TIB have agreed to use their political muscle to pressure the railroad to build a pedestrian crossing.
At a meeting at Sun Rivers between Kamloops city council and TIB on Monday, March 5, the two governments agreed to write a joint letter to CN Rail outlining their interest in the construction of a bridge.
Tk’emlups Indian Band Chief Shane Gottfriedson said the bridge is an issue of safety for his people, noting many use the CN Rail bridge as a shortcut.
He urged Kamloops city council to work with the band to pressure the railroad into building the structure.
“I don’t understand why it’s so hard for it to happen,” Gottfriedson said, suggesting a bridge could cost up to a half-million dollars.
Mayor Peter Milobar agreed CN Rail needs to join the project, but added the city has no budget to pay for a bridge.
Milobar said CN Rail has embarked on similar projects in smaller communities where a crossing is a safety issue.
“I don’t understand why a larger centre should be treated differently than a smaller centre from a CN [Rail] corporate point of view,” he said.
Horses trotting off and into history
The TIB has hired a consultant to help redevelop the Kamloops Exhibition Association grounds.
The plan effectively puts an end to horse racing in Kamloops.
“I don’t see horse racing happening this year,” Gottfriedson said.
He said the band has been subsidizing the grounds for between $100,000 and $200,000 a year, noting its current operation is not economically viable.
Gottfriedson didn’t specify exactly what the land would ultimately become once redeveloped.
The city and band are also working to finalize transit service to the reserve.
The two sides will meet with BC Transit on March 19 to confirm routing and scheduling.
The TIB is expected to receive 3,540 hours of conventional service, with the band and BC Transit picking up the $235,000 tab.
Meanwhile, the TIB is working on plans to upgrade and realign the intersection leading to the Chief Louis Centre.
The project is expected to cost $1.5 million and is part of a major redevelopment of the area near the centre.