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St. Paul councils hear plea to help fix Beaver River trestle

Dec 17, 2013 10:48 am | Janice Huser with files from Sam Macdonald

Although both local municipalities agree the Beaver River Trestle is an asset to the Iron Horse Trail and tourism in the area, neither the County of St. Paul nor the Town of St. Paul have officially agreed to financially support repairs to the trestle.

The trestle, located near Cold Lake, was damaged in June of 2012 after a lit car pushed off the north end embankment, became lodged in the trestle and set the structure ablaze.

“At the end of the day, we want to support them as much as we can, but we want to be fair . . . I’d rather say we’re thinking about it, but not decided for now. We support the idea in principle,” said Town of St. Paul Mayor Glenn Andersen, at last week’s regular town council meeting.

Marvin Bjornstad with the Riverland Recreational Trail Society addressed the Town of St. Paul and County of St. Paul councils last week, looking for assistance in funding repairs to the trestle.

The focus of Bjornstad’s presentation was the Beaver River Trestle, and the necessary repairs facing the structure. Bjornstad gave a recap on the fire that damaged the trestle, and said that NE Muni-corr has spent around $225,000 on repairs so far. Just under $1 million is now needed to repair the trestle completely.

Bjornstad explained that Riverland now needs to raise the funds, and is communicating with various levels of government for support of the project. One of the avenues of support they’re pursuing is a Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) grant.

Because CFEP is a matching grant, Bjornstad has been petitioning the municipalities of Bonnyville and Cold Lake to come forward with the needed funds.

In the town’s meeting on Dec. 9, Bjornstad emphasized the importance of getting as much done as quickly as possible in terms of funding, saying, “We still have to come up with a plan…We have good contractors available to us, but if we wait too long (the repairs) will cost more.”

“Whoever is benefitting most should be paying the most,” said Town of St. Paul CAO Ron Boisvert, in response to the request for funding to fix the trestle.

Town council tabled the issue, so that it could discuss numbers and come up with an amount to possibly offer the project.

“We maintain a nice trail, and have the best staging area in the Lakeland area,” said Mayor Glenn Andersen. “They need money, and they need those grants. The trail is expensive, but it’s a good investment.”

The following day, Bjornstad met with County of St. Paul council. There are a total of 10 municipalities that the Riverland society will be approaching with the funding request, he told council.

“At some point, we’re all partners,” said Bjornstad.

It was also noted that Muni-Corr does have $1 million in the bank, but the organization doesn’t want to use all those funds to repair the trestle, although it might be willing to use some of it, said Bjornstad.

The issue of the trestles along the Iron Horse Trail being nearly uninsurable was also brought up. It would cost about $100,000 a year to insure the trestles, said Bjornstad.

The idea of fitting the trestle with a fire suppression system was also brought up at the presentation to the county. CN railway is working with a company that makes electronic fire detection systems, and this type of product could be installed on the Beaver River Trestle as a pilot project, heard council.

County of St. Paul council also tabled the request.

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