MP announces federal funding for footbridge

The federal government is providing bridge financing for a project in Ponoka.

The federal government is providing bridge financing for a project in Ponoka.

Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins announced Oct. 14 that the Town of Ponoka will receive federal funding to construct a pedestrian bridge over the Battle River.

“This investment I’m very excited about because it will improve the quality of life right here in Ponoka,” he said. “This bridge will make the experience of visiting the river valley all the more attractive and enhance people’s experience.”

The new 140-foot long bridge will come off new the 57th Avenue train crossing.

The pedestrian bridge project is funded to a total of $500,000: $185,000 from National Trails Coalition; $86,000 from Trans Canada Trail; $100,000 from Alberta TrailNet; with the balance to be paid by the Town of Ponoka.

“The Government of Canada is providing $185,000 to develop this bridge that will improve safety and link the trails on both sides of the river,” said Calkins. “As part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, we are boosting local economies by creating jobs and enhancing trails for outdoor enthusiasts.”

“Now with this money, it makes the project viable,” said deputy mayor John Jacobs. “It’s something we can proceed with. This is great news for us.”

Jacobs said the trails through Ponoka’s river valley are part of the TransCanada Trail system.

Funding for a footbridge over the Blindman River was also announced Oct. 14. That will help create a trail linking Penhold to Ponoka.

This project is supported through the Government of Canada’s $25 million investment in recreational trails, part of the Economic Action Plan. The government’s investment is matched by the NTC and provincial, territorial, municipal and private funding partners.

Calkins said Prime Minister Stephen Harper was awarded the highest honour granted by the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations (CCSO) for delivering on his commitment to expand Canada’s network of national trails through the Economic Action Plan.

Will’s Welding is constructing the bridge in its Ponoka shop. Will Dillen told the group at the announcement at the town hall that the main centre section of the structure has been built and the piles are in the ground at the site along the river.

“There should be no problem meeting the March 31 deadline,” he said.

Dillen said the infrastructure program has had the intended effect of keeping Albertans working. With the slow economy, he considered laying off staff.

“Because we knew it (bridge project) we were able to keep the staff on,” Dilen said. “Some of the guys breathed a sigh of relief because they thought they would be getting pink slips and they didn’t.”

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