Courtenay council has made its decision on the 5th Street bridge upgrades.

At Monday night’s meeting, councillors voted against installing cantilevers as part of the project.

Councillor Doug Hillian put forward a motion that the city would not install the multi-use pathways as part of the upgrades.

It was a 5-2 vote in favour of the option to upgrade without cantilevers with councillors David Frisch and Melanie McCollum voting against the motion.

Councillor Hillian also added an important amendment to his motion.

He asked that council and staff make the option of a 6th Street pedestrian and multi-use bridge a top priority moving forward. This bridge would not allow vehicles.

Mayor Bob Wells explained that opinions have changed over the last 10 years on what would be best for the city, but the no cantilever option, and a possible 6th Street bridge were the ones that seem to be the most supported in the community.

“I can only echo the same feedback that I’ve gotten that as bad of an idea the 6th Street bridge was five or 10 years ago, it’s now the good idea. It’s the one that people seem to be getting behind, seem to have a vision for it, while at the same time significant opposition to spending the extra money for the cantilevers,” says Wells.

“I think when the idea of cantilevers was first presented in my mind what I saw is people kind of zip on real quickly and zip off real quickly at the other end, and provide that safe passage while they’re on the bridge along with all multi-modal folks that are getting across the bridge. But as it seems now that’s not going to be nearly as finessed as I might have hoped.”

Councillor Melanie McCollum-who voted in favour of adding the cantilevers- says she fought with her final decision all week but decided that the added cost for the 6th Street option just doesn’t make sense.

“Thinking about how much we could do with that 1.5 million that we’re looking at spending on the 6th Street bridge versus what it could go towards (like) building out better pedestrian and bike safety in other parts of the city.”

The total cost of the 5th Street bridge upgrade and rehabilitation project is expected to be around $6.3 million, with $1.96 million of that coming from federal or provincial grants.

Now that a decision has been made, an alternative approval process (AAP) will take place, allowing Courtenay residents the chance to voice their opinions.

The city says it will also look at the possibility of getting funding from surrounding communities such as the CVRD, Comox, and even 19 Wing as they all use the bridge as well.

If you would like to learn more about the 5th Street Bridge rehabilitation and upgrade project or the possible 6th Street pedestrian bridge, visit the City of Courtenay’s website.