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Outlook town council - SkyTrail future sees light

The future of Outlook's once-popular tourism draw is seeing some positivity.
2020 Town Sign

OUTLOOK - The town council of Outlook met for a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday night, June 12. Present were Councillors Kyle McLeod, Sharon Bruce, Bob Stephenson, Justin Turton, and Ryan Husband, as well as Mayor Maureen Weiterman, Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Trew, and Assistant CAO Rachel Sillers. Absent was Councillor Kevin Grotheim.

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


Set for its second reading and discussed by Council was Bylaw 03(2024) Repeal of Certain Bylaws, which includes a number of old and missed bylaws. Councillor Husband made a motion to carry the second reading, which was carried, and also made a motion to carry out the bylaw's third reading, which was also carried by the room.

Communications Requiring Action or Decision

Council then discussed a legal opinion provided by North Star Law regarding the reopening of the SkyTrail walking bridge, a topic that has permeated the community for some time recently. Kevin Trew reminded the room of the petition that was signed by members of the community and presented to the town, asking for Council to open the bridge for public usage. Seeking the opinion of North Star Law, Trew said that the firm has lawyers with a vested interest in the town of Outlook and went over a history of the bridge up to this current point in time.

Reading from his notes, Trew pointed out to the room that it has been suggested that another group or committee could take on the responsibilites of operations for the bridge, partnering with the town on the project and returning the bridge to "being a fundamental part of the town's proud heritage." Trew said that he was seeking permission from Council to proceed with discussions with an already-existing community group and, if interested, to partner with the group to hold meetings and gauge public interest on financially supporting what is necessary to open the bridge as a tourist attraction, with a fee for entry and a waiver system.

This was not an ask of Council for the bridge to be reopened, as more work is needed to be done in order for it to do so.

Trew also read some of the notes from North Star Law, which shared that if someone was harmed in their interaction with the SkyTrail in its current state, the Town may be liable. This is why the bridge has been closed since 2013. If the bridge is reopened, attention must be given to the Town's duty of care for any and all visitors to the bridge. Highlighting other notes from the firm showed why Trew believes a waiver system may have to be in place.

As well, Trew read notes that described scenarios which pointed out liabilities and responsibilities, both if the bridge were to be reopened as well as if the Town decides to keep it closed.

Trew read further, highlighting that there was a consideration to be found for employing a waiver, not unlike what one would find at a high-risk recreational site. This scenario would see any visitor arrive at the SkyTrail, pay a fee, and both read and sign a waiver indicating they understand the risk of harm and absolve the town of any liability for any possible personal injury. By charging a fee in exchange for experiencing the bridge, this would create a clear contract with terms understood and acknowledged by both parties, possibly assisting in a defence to a breach of contract claim against the Town. Anyone granted access to the bridge would be fully and undeniably aware of the potential risks.

There was found to be "no discernable path to reopening the SkyTrail that is either 100% safe or 100% free of cost, with certainly no path that could be both."

Exiting the legal talk associated with possibly reopening the bridge, Trew noted that the analysis and opinion provided by the law firm does a good job of identifying liabilities and the courses of action. In his eyes, Trew said that "there is a path" to reopening the bridge, admitting to a bit of bias in the situation.

There was talk in the room on how things such as bridge admission would work, particularly as a year-round attraction, as well as questions surrounding who would staff it and whether a possible key card system would potentially work. Online technology was also brought up and could be explored as a possible option to aid in admission practices.

Trew then addressed one aspect of the bridge that has permeated the community since its closure in 2013, posing the question if anyone believed that the bridge will actually cave in one day if/when someone is walking on it. Such a question wasn't an invite for a discussion, it was just something that Trew brought up as it's a question that has been attached to the state of the SkyTrail since its closure more than a decade ago. For his part, Trew stated his own belief that it won't cave in anytime soon.

He also shared his belief that if the Town can carry out "reasonable maintenance" year by year, including measuring for slope stability studies, then that's going to show everyone whether or not there are going to be future issues. As well, the future of the SkyTrail will need people to "put their money where their mouth is".

After some final discussion surrounding the bridge, and what path would be the best to take, Council agreed that moving forward on the path to reopening it would be ideal. As such, Trew will move forward on exploring the matter and seeing what kind of local committee might be the ones to spearhead the initiative.

Unfinished Business

Council then moved on to the request that was made by Monette Farms at the previous meeting regarding the use of the lagoon by the construction crew on-site at the new development just east of Outlook off Highway 15.

CAO Trew looked at a few different things surrounding this request by Monette, and after some discussion of these points, a recommendation was brought forward to approve the request. Councillor McLeod asked if the meter would be read, and Trew replied that Eastside Water Pipeline Utility would indeed be reading the meter information at the camp. Further discussion included Council wanting to know how much is being hauled to the lagoon, and the length of the agreement.

Council then agreed to a motion granting Monette access to the lagoon for offloading of waste, with a contract length of two years. The motion was carried.

Discussion then moved to the Van Raay and Community Swimming Pool in Outlook, which included an update on repairs. Trew shared that replacement pumps were ordered and they had arrived, with the work having started to replace the pumps and fix parts of the mechanical room. An electrician has disconnected all the electrical parts, and now all the electrical aspects will be replaced. After that, Trew said, the pool will be filled and the pumps will be started back up in order to monitor them for underground pipe breaks and to assess the pool liner, with the pressure of the water applied and added to the equation to make a more informed decision on the liner.

Once this work is done and the Town knows whether or not a new liner will be needed, a decision will be made, though Trew did say that a scenario could come up where the liner didn't need to be new and it could be "patched". When more information is gathered, the decision will be brought back to Council to decide on the next course of action.