What’s next for Campbellton transit?

By John Twigg, Secretary

Campbellton Neighbourhood Association

Now that the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge has successfully opened as a powerful new tourist attraction, the logical question is “what’s next?” The answer could well become a new shuttle bus service based in Campbellton!

The idea of a shuttle bus to and from the suspension bridge was mentioned in a May 8 opening-day statement by Rotary Club president Lorrie Bewza, who was chair of the project committee for the approximately six years it took to conceive, fund and finally build the bridge and related facilities for about $750,000 (a bargain, aided by several key donors).

But Bewza also mentioned a Phase 2 project when he appeared on my Talk About show on Shaw TV and that is to add new hiking trails from the north side of the bridge to connect with the Moose Falls area to the north and south to the trails on the east side of the Campbell.  The appeal is that a loop avoids people having to retrace their steps.

So the addition of those two new hiking loops will be a further boost to tourism in the region but that looping concept also could be an asset for other aspects, notably transit.

A letter published recently in the Mirror advocated the addition of a shuttle bus that would run up to Elk Falls from the Campbell River terminal for the Quadra Island ferry but perhaps that concept could be extended all the way to Willow Point where activists have been promoting an upgrading of the existing seawalk by adding carvings as permanent displays and an upgraded end point associated with the Willow Point Hall and Anne Elmore Cottage.

That fits in well with talk of extending the shoreline walkway from Willow Point all the way north to Tyee Spit and from there adding a new section that would follow the river and connect to the existing Myrt Thompson Trail which begins off of Maple Street in Campbellton - provided it would be allowed by the landowner, the Campbell River Indian Band.

But ideally those extended walking and hiking paths would also be serviced by a new and affordable shuttle bus, perhaps running at first only three or four times a day but then adding runs as demand rises. That’s because a shuttle bus would make it a lot easier for tourists to make one-way walks and not be required to double back.

Such a shuttle bus of course could be used by others too, such as local residents commuting to jobs or activities or going shopping. Thus there also could be stops at shopping centres, Haig-Brown House, the Quinsam River confluence and other spots, especially convenient transit connections.

And of course the best hub for such a shuttle bus would be somewhere in the middle of it all, which happens to be Campbellton, where there also are several suitable sites that are now vacant land crying out for redevelopment, notably a cluster of large government-owned lots between the two bridges, the north-south lanes of the Inland Island Highway and along the old Island Highway aka 19A.

A new satellite community centre and transit hub in the now-closed Quinnie? Or up the road and between the bridges where there also could be a dandy new visitor information centre?

Such questions could be answered by appropriate professional studies but in any case now is the time to start thinking about future transit innovations in, around and through Campbellton.