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Rotary hoping for study on Castlegar-Selkirk College link

Castlegar’s Rotary Sunrise Club has resurrected the idea of building a fixed link between Selkirk College and the city.

Director Garry Gawryletz explains they are seeking grants to have a feasibility study done on building a pedestrian bridge or gondola over the Columbia River to connect the college campus with the rest of the town.

The idea has been around for a number of years. In 2016, then-councillor Florio Vassilakakis expressed his support for such a project.

Gawryletz says last year Rotary discussed possible projects, and this one came to the fore. “We as Rotary thought we would investigate it and take it to the next level,” he says.

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They interviewed members of city council, talked to the president of Selkirk College, and local business people to see if there was an appetite for the idea.

“Everybody was very positive, so we thought we’d go ahead and this year try and get some money for the feasibility study,” Gawryletz said.

Rotary has set aside some money itself and is hoping to obtain grants from the Economic Trust of Southern Interior and through the ReDI program of the Columbia Basin Trust.

The study is expected to cost about $25,000 and depending on what it finds, it could cost a lot more to build the link. At that point, they would need to have a serious discussion with the city on coming up with a plan. But Gawrlyetz says Rotary feels the benefits would be considerable.

“No. 1 is to make Selkirk part of Castlegar. Right now it’s across the river and via the bridges it’s four to five kilometers either way.

“Selkirk College is an incredible asset. There are 400 staff who work there and well over 2,000 students. So if we can make it easier for them to come into Castlegar, the business side of it would be huge. It’s linking the community, that’s the crux of it. Putting in a connection like this will tie the city and college closer together.”

Gawrlyetz noted there are already trails on the Selkirk side of the river, allowing residents to bike or walk to the college.

He adds they would leave it up to the consultant to explore all options and determine the best location, whether a gondola or bridge is the better option, and the capital and maintenance costs.

He expects that a bridge would be wide enough to cycle or walk across, but would not support a car.

“Within Rotary, we will sit beside this project right to the end,” Gawrlyetz said. “We’ll support it as much as we possibly can.”

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