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Outlook town council - Hammer speaks on SkyTrail

Council heard from resident Con Hammer on the state of the SkyTrail bridge.
2020 Town Sign

OUTLOOK - The town council of Outlook met for a regular meeting held on Wednesday, May 8. Present were councillors Sharon Bruce, Bob Stephenson, Kyle McLeod, Ryan Husband, and Kevin Grotheim, as well as Mayor Maureen Weiterman, CAO Kevin Trew, and Assistant CAO Rachel Sillers. Absent was Councillor Justin Turton.

The meeting was broadcast live on the Town of Outlook's official Facebook page.

A number of topics and items were discussed, including the following highlights.


Council discussed Bylaw 02(2024) Bylaw to Close a Road, which was set for its 2nd reading. The bylaw pertains to the lane situated between Saskatchewan Avenue and Railway Avenue, and the streets of Simpson and Hearn. Councillor McLeod made the motion to proceed with the second reading, which was carried by the room.


Outlook resident Con Hammer appeared as a delegate before Council, speaking to his findings on the current state of the SkyTrail walking bridge. Hammer's presentation to Council was obtained by this reporter after Con visited the offices of The Outlook. The full statement is included just below:

"Thank you Mayor Weiterman and Council members for allowing me to make this presentation regarding SkyTrail.

I want to dispell some rumors: the bridge is not going to fall down; removing a 200,000 lb diesel engine increases the safety margin 2 1/2 times. Millions of dollars of repairs are required? No no no, it's about $1000 to repair a hole in the deck.

Let's go back to October 31, 2013 where (2) Associated Engineers are going to check on the request "Is the bridge safe?" They know they can't say "Yes" because of the future possibility of liability claims. Now they have to find if there are any "safety" problems on the bridge. Bridge deck is well maintained as it has been used as a walking bridge for approximately 9 1/2 years and is in good condition. Inspection of the East abutment, piers 1 and 2 show that they have been forced downward by the weight of the bridge caused by the slumping of the slope during the wet years in the mid 2000's. NOT MENTIONED IN THEIR REPORT. Minor problems on other piers caused by train traffic but no repairs necessary. Their conclusion was, "As the East abutment may be moving and as it is POTENTIALLY UNSTABLE and the bridge should be CLOSED IMMEDIATELY." SkyTrail was closed by a Town Council motion.

April 2023. I read the Engineers report for the first time and arrived at the following conclusions:

1. If the engineers found no problems then the bridge must be safe.

2. POTENTIALLY means future; that means the bridge is now safe.

3. There were a number of contractors that have levels that could have established an elevation on the East abutment during November 2013 and checked it against the elevation taken in April 2014. If they are the same, the bridge is STABLE; requirement of the engineers.

As step #3 was not completed, I proceeded to get 2 elevations on the East abutment. On April 27, 2023 while doing a base survey on the bridge I established an elevation on the East abutment of 96.7 (3.3 ft, 1m below shelter). On April 24, 2024, the new elevation was 96.6. (Adjoining drain construction may have caused movement) Engineers report satisfied.

Why is the clarification above so important? At a meeting in early May with the Mayor and the Administrator, the Mayor made the statement that an engineer would have to re-open SkyTrail. We cannot go through that hassle again.

On April 14, 2014, Associated Engineers came out with a report of a $1,000,000 expenditure for SkyTrail. Why?

On December 15, 2022, AE asked for an updated cost estimate for WHAT? Costs are ridiculous. Administrator asked to see if Federal funds were available. NONE, and we've lost the Trans Canada Trail. There were no repairs required for the bridge.

On April 27, 28 and May 1, 2023, there was a baseline survey for SkyTrail. The deck hasn't changed in about the last 15 years, other than there is a large hole where some of the boards have been removed. As numerous people are still climbing over the fence to walk the bridge, it's a catastrophe waiting to happen.

In mid April 2024, I asked numerous times to meet with Council; I was always denied. I met with Councillor Bruce for about 1/2 hour. Council's concerns were:

a) Who takes over when Council reopens SkyTrail

b) Who pays for the repairs and new construction

c) If people wish to donate, why don't they come forward?

I replied "How can people come forward when Council provides no information?" Great meeting.

An ideal situation would be:

1. Council reopens SkyTrail.

2. An organization or board would operate SkyTrail as a business that can issue receipts as a charity, has administration, operation, maintenance, capital, programs and can invest excess funds.

However, this is the real world:

a) The Town of Outlook is the only one who can issue charitable receipts. Motion required to accept contributions for SkyTrail.

b) The chain link at the west end of the entry removed immediately.

c) There is a damaged area on the bridge that needs repairs.

d) The area from the entry building to the bridge must be redeveloped.

e) The west end of the entry building, a wall must be built with a door to control access to SkyTrail.

f) A walkway has been designed, and discussion and approval by a carpenter is required.

g) Council cannot open SkyTrail until all construction is completed.

If everyone works together a grand opening by July 1st weekend is possible. Let the tourist dollars return to Outlook.

Possible Fee Schedule

Season Pass

Family - $20

Adult - $10

Student - $5


Family - $5

Adult - $2

Student - $1"

Mayor Weiterman commended Hammer for his dedication towards the SkyTrail.

"I just want to say on behalf of Council and on behalf of the people of Outlook; we appreciate that you've become a champion for the SkyTrail bridge," she said. "We know where your heart is, for sure. When people in our community are passionate about something, it shows that they're invested in their home, and we really appreciate that. I thank you very much for coming!"

Hammer then left the meeting.

Mayor Weiterman suggested the idea of a "field trip" to the SkyTrail, which Councillor Bruce agreed was a good idea.

Reports of Administration, Staff and/or Committees Requiring Decision

An official declaration of Health Centre Staff Appreciation Week was carried, as May 12-18 signifies the week where the work and dedication of health care professionals is being recognized in Outlook and area. The week was declared the the Town of Outlook, the RM of Rudy, and the RM of Fertile Valley. Crosses made of construction paper are available at a number of businesses, which can be filled out by thankful people wishing to send good wishes to health care workers, and they'll be distributed to the staff in June.

Next, some highlights were shared from a recent Joint Protective Services Committee meeting on April 23. A proposed timeline surrounding the new Outlook fire hall project stated that the group agreed to contract the design to JSP Engineering, and that has been completed. The technical team that consists of Kevin Trew, fire chief Dalas King, administrator Trent Sim of the RM of Rudy, and deputy fire chief Luke Lockhart will work with the designer, with a final design will come to committee in June or July. It's expected that by the fall of this year, the committee will award the contract with councils, based on the recommendations of the committee.

The goal is to arrive at a groundbreaking ceremony in the fall, with construction set to begin in the spring of 2025.

A motion to approve this timeline of events was carried by Council.

Council carried three non-arm's length payments to Mayor Weiterman and Councillor Turton regarding expenses related to travel to the recent SUMA convention. The third payment was to Councillor Grotheim for a Riverbend Industries business call at the water plant.

New Business

Council carried an application for a storefront enhancement grant related to the Outlook Bakery, which is looking at doing renovations to the front of their building.