An overgrown old foot bridge could provide a vital link to Port Moody’s past if it’s fixed up, says the executive director of the city’s Station Museum.
Jim Millar said the Ioco Bridge spanning Village creek that bisects the old Ioco townsite afforded residents in the cluster of homes on the east side of the company town easy and quick access to the grocery store and community hall on its west side.
But the bridge, which is on city property, has fallen into disrepair and several years ago it was fenced off for safety reasons.
City manager Tim Savoie said, “we don’t believe it’s safe for individuals to walk on the bridge.”
At its meeting June 23, Port Moody council directed staff to prepare a report outlining the potential costs, time and resources it would take to repair and reopen the bridge.
Coun. Diana Dilworth, who’s the chair of the city’s heritage commission, said fixing the bridge would be a legacy project for the townsite’s 100th anniversary next year.
Millar said repairing and reopening the bridge would also facilitate walking tours of the old site which once housed workers from a nearby Imperial Oil refinery as well as their families.
“At least it would bring some life back,” he said during a recent visit to the bridge, which is blocked off by high chainlink fencing and barely visible beyond a tangle of trees, tall grasses and bushes.
Millar said the gulley the creek runs through was once going to be filled in to create a central boulevard, but when that didn’t happen, the bridge was constructed as most of the townsite’s roads didn’t have sidewalks. He added it might best be known as part of the training route Terry Fox used to prepare for his cross-country marathon to raise money for cancer research.
Port Moody’s general manager of engineering and operations, Jeff Moi, estimated repairing the bridge could cost anywhere from half a million dollars to “in the millions if we had to replace it.”
He said the best-case scenario might cost the city $250,000 to make the bridge safe and usable again.
That worries Mayor Rob Vagramov, who said the expense of fixing the bridge might go too far.
“I could not imagine ordering a quarter-million dollar project for a bridge to nowhere,” he said, adding the money would be better spent improving access over the railroad tracks in Moody Centre.
But Dilworth said that was an unfair comparison.
“This is a piece of heritage that is just as important to save,” she said.