A regional park northeast of Mission will be the site for only the third suspension bridge in the Lower Mainland.
Cascade Falls park, a half-hour drive from the district, spans 28 hectares of wilderness with a 30-metre waterfall as its central feature. The waterfall and network of hiking trails attract about 60,000 visitors annually.
By June 2014, there will be a suspension bridge and viewing platform over the falls, according to the Fraser Valley Regional District.
“[Currently] there’s trails that go up alongside of the falls, and there’s fencing and various lookout points so you can stop and look out at the falls either at the bottom, or midway, or at the top. The stairs and the trails system are very similar to the Grouse Grind, although nowhere near as long,” said Ray Boucher, FVRD director for Area F, which covers Cascade Falls. “A lot of people use it as hiking trails. When the suspension bridge comes in, it’ll probably attract people into our area to visit our parks.”
The bridge is funded primarily by an independent power producer, Innergex. The company approached the FVRD board of directors in May 2012 with the offer of $225,000 towards the construction of a suspension bridge in Cascade Falls and the installation of an educational signboard on hydroelectricity. Innergex has nine planned and operating run-of-the-river power plants on creeks feeding into Stave and Harrison lakes.
Since then, FVRD has invested about $90,000 on paving the existing Cascade Falls parking lot and upgrading the toilet facilities and signage. The district will spend another $57,500 on trail and stair upgrades leading up to the new bridge. BC Hydro is also kicking in $5,000 towards the project.
FVRD is accepting proposals for bridge construction until Jan. 10, 2014. According to the tender document, the exact location of the pedestrian-only bridge is still to be determined. Ideally, it will start at the current viewing platform and continue 35 metres across the gorge to a new platform. That would place it about 40 metres downstream of the falls and 30 metres above the creek bed.
The Cascade Falls bridge will be just five metres shorter than the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge in North Vancouver. It will also sit noticeably lower to the ground. The other suspension bridge in the Lower Mainland, Capilano in North Vancouver, is 137 metres long.
(Photo below: The Lynn Canyon suspension bridge in North Vancouver is a popular tourist destination.)