New trail Suspension Bridge opened to much fanfare in Waverely

MP Darrell Samson (middle) speaks about the porcess that led to the official opening of a new pedestrian suspension bridge as part of the Lake William trail. With some 600 metres left to work on at the end, it's inching closer to connecting Waverley to Shubie Park and Dartmouth. Also pictured are: Allan Billard (SWEPS, left); MLA Bill Horne (second from right); and CN spokeswoman Tiffany Edwards. (Healey photo)

WAVERLEY: The opening of the Lake William trail suspension bridge means the dream of connecting Waverley to Dartmouth through active transportation is one step closer to reality.

It will allow walkers to eventually walk from Waverley to Shubie Park and then Dartmouth through the Lake William Active Transportation Trail, located across from the Powder Mill picnic park.

On an overcast day Oct. 20, more than 40 people were in attendance some two to three kilometres in the woods for the announcement and ribbon cutting.

“Oh wow, look at that,” said one of the attendees at the afternoon event. “Isn’t that amazing. This is such a good thing for the community.”

Allan Billard has led the trail vision for SWEPS. (Healey photo)

The Shubenacadie Watershed Environmental Protection Society (SWEPS) raised the $901,000 for the trail bridge, built by Dexter Construction, through support from the federal government the province; and HRM, plus donations. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) contributed $115,000 through its Innovative Communities Fund (ICF) towards the project.

“This suspension bridge is more than a safe way to cross the busy rails,” said SWEPS project manager Allan Billard. “Walkers will want to hike in just to see it and the wonderful views from centre span.”

The bridge includes panels recycled from the old Angus L. MacDonald Bridge in Halifax.

For those who did not want to drive their own vehicles in the almost two kilometres—or did not want to or could not walk—East Hants Community Rider provided transportation into the site for the special announcement.

MP Darrell Samson part of the new way of life is getting people to remain active.

“The new norm is getting people out and active, and this project fits well with that,” he said.

MP Darrell Samson said for a project like the pedestrian suspension bridge in the Powder Mill trail system to happen all three levels of government must work cohesively. (Healey photo)

Samson spoke of when Billard came to his office in Fall River looking for support to make the project more than a figment of his imagination.

“Allan came in all excited about this project and really wanting to get it going, trying to get everybody on board,” he said. “At one point he came back, and he was concerned. Those concerns dissipated and returned a smile on Allan’s face as we were able to overcome them and move forward with the trail bridge project.”

Allan Billard (from left), avid trail user Gordon Warnica; MP Darrell Samson and MLA Bill Horne do the ribbon cutting to officially open the Powder Mill trail bridge on Lake William near Dartmouth. (Healey photo)

He said the COVID19 pandemic has brought challenges, but many rewards.

MLA Bill Horne talked about the province’s involvement in the suspension bridge project. (Healey photo)

“People are finding new norms, new ways of getting out there, socializing, being active and staying healthy,” Samson said.

Samson, who was representing Minister of Economic Development and Official Language and Minister responsible for ACOA, Melanie Joly, at the announcement said ACOA was happy to support such an endeavour.

He said it was important that all three level of governments work collaboratively to bring projects such as this to fruition.

“This project started at the base,” he said. “It’s vital that our three governments federal, provincial, and municipal, work together, and that’s crucial. We have been able to do that and this project is one example of that collaboration.”

MLA Bill Horne said he was pleased to be on hand representing the province.

“We all know that community trails provide social recreational physical benefits to everyone, including tourist,” said Horne. “They allow us to explore nature and active lifestyles.”

Tiffany Edwards from CN, who own the land the bridge is installed on, also spoke glowingly of working with SWEPS to have the connection for the trail made.

“This is a wonderful example of our collaboration with our communities and our partners,” said Edwards. “This is connecting our trails and keeping people healthy.”

CN’s Tiffany Edwards said the company enjoys colloborating on projects such as this. (Healey photo)

At present, the four-kilometre route goes from the Powder Mill Picnic Park in Waverley and extends south along the shores of Lake William.

“There is still 600 metres at the far end to complete,” Billard said. “When the trail is finished, residents will use this new bridge to connect to Shubie Park and even walk all the way into Dartmouth.”

Councillor-elect Cathy Deagle-Gammon was on hand representing HRM.