The Dryden Observer

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The bridge to somewhere?

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

Dryden Rotary is hoping Domtar will release the lands on the south side (left) of the Roy Wilson Suspension Bridge, in order that they may create and maintain a small park. Photo by Chris Marchand

Rotary club proposes small park on south end of suspension bridge

Dryden Rotarians supported a motion within their club to take a lead role in developing and maintaining a small park on the southern end of the Roy Wilson Suspension Bridge, last week.

Currently, visitors to the bridge site are confined to a viewing pod at the other side of bridge, unable to set foot on the opposite side of the river on lands owned by Domtar.

Still in a very preliminary stage, the club was gauging the support of its membership for a project that will first require the approval of the landowner Domtar and the transfer of the land to the City of Dryden — a process they say is ongoing.

Mayor Craig Nutall says he’s prepared to support the idea put forth by Dryden Rotary provided it comes at zero cost to the city.

“We have no money in Dryden to spend on a new park right now,” said Nutall. If they want to build it, fund it completely from Roy Wilson and they commit to three years of maintenance, we’ll do it. But there’s no taxpayers’ money in there whatsoever.”

Funds, to the tune of $25,000 via a donation from the Wilson family, will be used primarily to construct a set of stairs on the far side of the bridge and boundary fencing to isolate the park from adjacent CP Rail lands.

The approximate half-acre space would require extensive brushing, work that would be performed by Rotary club volunteers. The idea is to create a low maintenance park space using existing plants and trees. The long-term vision includes picnic tables and possibly playground equipment.

Despite a few concerns primarily around potential cost overruns, the idea seemed to spark the imagination of most Rotarians at the mid-summer weekly lunch meeting — a chance, says Clare Thompson, to improve the community’s perception of the bridge that has proven politically divisive in recent years.

“It’s been called the ‘bridge to nowhere’ for a long time,” he said. “I’d like to see it made into ‘the bridge to the little Rotary park on the other side of the river’,” he said. “So many of the projects we do are strictly monetary, you raise funds and put the money out there. But these kind of hands-on projects are important. The whole group gets out and works together, there’s a lot of fun and fellowship.”

By Chris Marchand


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