Partners and funders involved in the creation of a new pedestrian and cyclist link between Banff’s downtown and the south side of town gathered this week on the snowy bank of the Bow River to commemorate the launch of construction of the Nancy Pauw Bridge. The participants built a virtual representation of the bridge in the location where the construction will start.
The $5.5. million project was able to commence excavation, following final environmental and project approvals received late last month from Parks Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada.
“As the drill rig behind me is gets ready to start excavation for the bridge’s pilings, I am pleased to have the organizations that will make this possible represented here for this milestone,” said Corrie DiManno, Mayor of the Town of Banff.
“For decades, a crossing here has been needed. It will make it safe to cross in winter and save a lot of time in summer. This bridge will connect our downtown to the communities on the south side, and help people commute with active modes rather than driving. The bridge will provide a quick link for visitors between our commercial centre, Central Park and the Cave & Basin National Historic Site. It will provide a link to get to our redeveloped recreation grounds. And the bridge brings people closer the “last mile” of routes in our fantastic Roam Public Transit system.”
A bridge has been long promoted to reduce the risk of people falling through the ice when crossing in winter, at the same location where elk have died in each of the last few years after falling into the Bow River. With up to 8,000 crossings a day expected by foot, by bike, and by skateboard, the new bridge will provide a faster route for commuters, and remove hundreds of vehicles from the limited road network. The project aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce traffic congestion, and provide a destination viewpoint for visitors. Until now, the project lacked funding to proceed.
“This has been a missing link for a while… and funding has been the missing link to make it a reality,” said DiManno. “Thanks to Banff’s Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation, and its $2.5 million contribution, this bridge will go ahead. Thanks to the Government of Canada and the $2.2 million contribution from the Investing in Canada Plan, this vital connection will be established. Thanks to the people of Banff and our $800,000 contribution, construction will go ahead today.”
Drilling started this week to excavate and construct bridge pilings on each side of the Bow River. The bridge will span the river without touching the water. During excavation, an archeologist will oversee the work in the event a natural history or Indigenous artifact is discovered. The drill rig will complete piling work on the south side location and move on Monday, Dec. 13, to the north side location. The Bow River Bridge will be closed both directions at 6 a.m. on Dec. 13, for up to 30 minutes during the move.
Involved in the milestone event launching construction were (pictured left to right):
- Corrie DiManno, Mayor of the Town of Banff
- MP George Chahal, representing the Government of Canada
- Kelly Gibson, Town Manager, Town of Banff
- Dave McDonough, Superintendent of Banff National Park
- Gord Lozeman, Chair of the Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation
- Martin Bean, CAO of the Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission
- Narong Ven, Manager of Projects for StructureCraft
- Adrian Field, Director of Engineering, Town of Banff
- Michael Hay, Manager of Environment and Sustainability, Town of Banff
- Eric Harvie, Board of Directors, Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation
- Sean O’Farrell, Board of Directors, Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation
The bridge was named the Nancy Pauw Bridge after the longtime Banff resident and philanthropist whose character and principles helped shape the efforts of the foundation that continues to support local initiatives. (More details at https://banff.ca/pauwbridge.)
The Stoney Nakoda Nation was commissioned by the Town to create an historic cultural assessment for the area, where Indigenous Peoples have lived and met with other nations for centuries. The Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum is located about 100 metres from the bridge. The Town met with members of the Blackfoot Confederacy of nations and Stoney Nakoda Nations in the months leading to the start of the project. Members of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation held a Pipe Ceremony in advance of the project start, and Smudge Ceremonies will be coordinated before the official opening of the bridge, scheduled to occur by fall 2022.
The Town will engage with neighbouring Indigenous communities in early 2022 to identify options for Indigenous naming of existing or future infrastructure or Town assets to reinforce the importance of Indigenous Peoples in Banff. Consideration may include the existing pedestrian bridge downstream, trails around Bow Falls, the lands of the Banff recreation grounds, future buildings planned for the recreation grounds redevelopment, and other Town assets in areas such as the reservoir near the campground.
Details about the project and renderings: banff.ca/pauwbridge
Additional Site preparation information.