Open letter to Community Services Minister Brad Cathers:
I am writing in response to the Yukon government’s decision to demolish the Ross River suspension bridge.
I am very upset to hear that Community Services has decided to destroy such a magnificent piece of history. My understanding is that another branch of Yukon government, the Department of Tourism and Culture, values heritage and heritage sites and that these sites are an integral to Yukon’s quality of life and prosperity as well as promoting Yukon as a tourism destination. I do not understand why the Tourism and Culture branch has not been involved with this project.
I am writing in support of restoring the Ross River suspension bridge. This bridge has significant cultural and historical value and should be restored for these reasons in themselves as well as creating a tourism draw for the area.
My main reason for visiting Ross River two years ago was to see the bridge. It is an amazing engineering feat and it is also the longest single-span footbridge in Canada and the U.S., at 319 metres.
I feel that the government needs to listen to concerned citizens and make an effort to restore the bridge. Many bridges including large trestles have been restored to their original condition after disrepair or fire.
For example, several trestles in Kelowna, B.C. were destroyed or damaged in the 2003 fire, but they have been completely restored. I also understand that there is a federal fund specifically for World War Two artifacts and that the Ross River suspension bridge qualifies for this fund.
There needs to be a bigger fight for this bridge. With a restored bridge and advertising, Ross River would become a greater tourism destination, and the community’s economy would grow.
Furthermore, please consider the cultural and historical value this bridge brings to the community and the territory. Additionally, there is strong support in Ross River and the territory to restore the Ross River suspension bridge to its original condition.
It is also frustrating to know that there have been ongoing assessments and reports of this bridge for several years and that action could have been taken to save the bridge much sooner.
There is still time to keep an important part of Yukon’s heritage. I implore you to please reconsider the decision to demolish the Ross River suspension bridge. There are alternatives.