COURTENAY, B.C – The 5th Street bridge will be upgraded over the next couple of years.

At the Courtenay city council meeting Monday night, staff was directed to proceed with the rehabilitation of the bridge.

The plans would include widened pedestrian and cycling paths on each side.

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells says the project has been long overdue.

“We’ve been wrestling with this bridge project for some time, I think the first time it came up was around 1999, but it was decided at the time to delay it, and those delays just continued right along.”

Upgrades are expected to cost $8.3 million with $6.3 million funded by the city.

The remaining money would be covered in a grant from the New Build Canada’s Small Communities Fund.

Wells added that concerns have been brought up about just installing a new bridge, but says it’s cheaper to upgrade the current one.

“Right now if we were to replace that bridge with another bridge we would be looking at an order magnitude of $25-$30 million.

Moving forward, traffic management plans will be developed to determine the best time to start construction.

A communications program will also be created to keep residents updated on the progress of the project.

Public sessions about the rehabilitation project will also be held this fall.

In a separate motion, Council also directed staff to explore options for a pedestrian bridge crossing from 6th Street to Simms Park, which will be reviewed by council later this year.

For more information on the Fifth Street Bridge rehabilitation, click here.