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Castlegar suspension bridge fix delayed

A popular Castlegar attraction isn’t likely to reopen before spring.

In presenting her annual report to city council this week, Deb McIntosh of the heritage society said many people have been unhappy about the closure of the Zuckerberg Island suspension bridge.

“I probably get complaints every week if not every other week,” she said. “I hope we can get it open. It’s certainly a deterrent to people coming. I’ve driven in, seen them going into the gate, and they turn around and take off. That’s been a bit tough.”

City operations manager Samuel Shine said the bridge has a “significant number” of rotting boards that need replacement, but the city’s carpenter is away on long-term leave.

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“With our short staffing issues we’ve been unable to get to the bridge this year,” he said. “It’s going to consume a considerable amount of time. I think our goal is next spring.”

Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff said she heard “nothing but complaints” about the bridge over the summer, especially from tourists.

“That’s a huge draw,” she said, proposing that the fix be brought to city budget talks. “I would like it done, even if we have to put out a request for proposals for it to be resolved. I think it’s a benefit to Castlegar.”

Mayor Maria McFaddin agreed that budget deliberations will be a good time to discuss whether to contract the job out.

While there is a causeway onto the island, McIntosh said the suspension bridge, built in the 1980s, is the attraction most people want to see.

“The island is lovely, but [the bridge] is the gateway. Even when the school had their Halloween stuff, they were like ‘Will it be open?’ No, it won’t be.”

McIntosh said the annual Spooks on Zukes was still a fun event and she added she appreciates the city’s staffing challenges and doesn’t blame them for the closure. However, it “makes it seem like we don’t care. It’s not a good look.”

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