One of the longer flights of Trail’s iconic red-roofed stairs is expected to see some repairs this year.
Public works director Chris McIsaac told city council this week they have budgeted $50,000 to fix the stairs from Riverside Avenue to upper Topping Street. The stairs cross the phantom Digby Street, which still has two addresses, but does not otherwise exist.
McIsaac said the staircase has some structural issues, which will require column post repairs. “Everywhere wood meets concrete, when it gets wet, it rots. So this is happening,” he said.
Councillor Thea Hanson said neighbours adjacent to the staircase have been having “issues with individuals between their property and the stairs” and wondered if “privacy screens” could be installed.
McIsaac said nobody has raised that concern with public works, but it’s something that could be looked at. However, he also cautioned that looking after the city’s network of covered stairs isn’t cheap.
“The cost of maintaining these staircases is quite astronomical, and the replacement costs are through the roof,” he said.
“One day I’m pretty sure if it’s not me, the next director of public works will be having a conversation about the longevity of these staircases and what are we going to do with them? Because they are millions of dollars in assets literally.”
McIsaac said the cost of replacing even a few sections comes with a high price tag.
The staircases are mostly wooden, although some are stone. They were built and rebuilt over many decades but were not covered until the 1980s. Prior to that they were shoveled by hand in the winter.