Trail’s covered staircases are one of the city’s defining features. But they are also extremely expensive to maintain, city council has heard.
Mayor Colleen Jones said she received a complaint from a resident about the state of some stairs as well as sidewalks, especially on Nelson Avenue.
“The stairs are part of our history. It’s important that we keep them usable,” she said. “West Trail has younger families moving there and these stairs and sidewalks are more important than they have been for a long time.”
But city manager Colin McClure said upkeep on the stairs is “significant” and some are used more than others.
“The question will be how much money to put towards them,” he said, adding that while they do check on the stairs and sidewalks, in most cases they work on a complaint basis.
“It is important and valuable and necessary for the public to inform us of areas of concern, but we don’t always have the resources to fix them,” he said.
Public works has added counters to the stairs to find out how often they are used.
“It’s going to come to a point for council to say ‘this one is getting a lot of use, we need to focus on that one, this one is not being well used, we need to consider removing it.’
“That may be shocking for someone who says ‘wait a second, I’ve used that, or it’s been here for a long time.'”
The city budgeted $50,000 this year to repair one of the longer stretches of stairs on Riverside Avenue.
Most of the stairs are wooden, although a few are made of concrete or stone. They are found throughout the city, but most are in West Trail.
McClure said council will look again at its capital and operating budgets early in 2024.