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Outlook town council - SkyTrail legal opinion being sought

Bridge closed for decade-plus a hot topic in both meetings and the community.
2020 Town Sign

OUTLOOK - The town council of Outlook met for a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday night, May 22. Present was all of Council; Bob Stephenson, Sharon Bruce, Kyle McLeod, Ryan Husband, Justin Turton, and Kevin Grotheim, as well as Mayor Maureen Weiterman, Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Trew, and Assistant CAO Rachel Sillers.

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


Discussing four bylaws at this meeting, three of them were set for their third and final reading, including Bylaw 07(2023) Official Community Plan, Bylaw 08(2023) Zoning, and Bylaw 02(2024) Road Closure.

Bylaw 07, centered on the official community plan for Outlook, has gone through a lengthy process to reach this final stage, dating back to November at the public meeting that was held in the courtroom of the town offices building. After some final discussion, Council officially carried the bylaw.

Bylaw 08, centered on zoning, might actually date back even further as little things have been added and modified over the last number of years. Mayor Weiterman commended the public for the interest that they showed in the process of developing the zoning bylaw, showing that they were invested in what's happening in their community. Council then carried the bylaw.

Bylaw 02, centered on the closure of a roadway situated by the Co-op Gas Bar and connected to the Broderick Garden Centre, as has been discussed at previous Council meetings. Following some final discussion, Council carried the bylaw.

Bylaw 03(2024) Repeal of Certain Bylaws, meanwhile, was set for its first reading at this meeting. This particular bylaw deals with how the town council will go about repealing old and outdated bylaws, as well as finding amendments that may have been missed in relation to these older bylaws. Council then carried the first reading.

Communications Requiring Action or Decision

Touching on considerations for the town's 2025 operating budget, CAO Trew brought up some information regarding an estimate of costs for a new entrance into the library located at Outlook High School. The current entrance door, located on the southwest part of the building, had actually served as the emergency door at one time. It's served as the library entrance since the lockdown days of Covid-19, established as a way to keep the public and the students separate. Today, though, issues such as the height of the door, as well as a lack of wheelchair access, are pointing to the need for a new library entrance.

Some studies have been done to determine the costs to construct an updated entrance, and it was said that the school division doesn't want that door to be where it is. Trew noted that Sun West has two options that an architect came up with, and he told the division that the Town is interested in proceeding to get the entrance door updated. With tripping hazards, the current door is insufficient and not up to code as it stands. While the division seeks official estimates, the Town doesn't have its own estimates yet, and Trew said that such a project wouldn't be in the 2024 budget, but it would be something pursued in 2025.

While nothing concrete is being done with the door at the moment, the backup plan for the time being is for people to actually enter the library through the school, which is said to not be the most favorable idea, but it's the only one on the table for now. As such, the southwest door will once again go back to being considered an emergency exit.

Presented for information so that a decision can be made later, Council tabled the topic for the time being.

Discussed next was a letter from Tetra Tech Canada Inc., which shared that the firm has been commissioned by the Ministry of Highways to complete the surface rehabilitation design of Highway 15 from the #219 junction to the #45 junction west of Outlook, an approximate length of 23.3 km, to enable the resurfacing construction of this local section of the highway.

Seen as a big positive among those in the room, it was said that Tetra Tech workers have already been seen in the area. Councillor Husband said that he hoped more would be done underneath the road surface to ensure that it remains in good condition long after the work is done.


Appearing before Council was Lyla Pochipinski, who spoke on behalf of the Monette Farms development that's currently being built just east of Outlook. The location will have a modular work camp for employees, including a large septic system, and the camp will potentially house up to 30 individuals in the future. For now, approximately 15 people will be set up there for the harvest season, and Monette was requesting an agreement with the Town of Outlook for access to the lagoon for disposal of wastes from the camp.

The main building at the development site, which will end up being very large, is eyeing an opening for September 1, with inspections currently in place for August.

Mayor Weiterman shared that a decision will be reached for Monette Farms after some further discussion. Council will read up on the proposal and CAO Trew will look at pricing options. Such a request is also bringing up the topic of how Outlook will need to be looking at replacing the current lagoon system in the future, as Trew noted that the town is "beginning to approach" the capacity of the system. Expansion of the current lagoon is in the Town's capital plan, with some funds available, but more will have to be raised.

After some work and calculations are done, the topic is expected to return at the next council meeting.

Unfinished Business

The Town is set to be given consent by the Provincial Mediation Board to take the property located at 431 Park Avenue as part of tax enforcement, which Trew said is expected to be completed by the first week of June, and the Town is looking to get a tender out in order to sell the property. A motion was made and carried for the tender to go out on the property.

Next, Council discussed the delegation appearance from the May 8 meeting with Con Hammer, who spoke about the SkyTrail walking bridge and what he believes can be done to eventually reopen the once-popular tourist attraction. CAO Trew noted that 230 names had been collected on paperwork that Hammer gathered around town, said to not be a petition per se as a petition would imply the desire for a public meeting, rather that the lists of names are just concerned people who wish to see the bridge open once again.

The people who signed their names range in ages, from youth to seniors and various people in between.

Trew noted that the Town had sought a legal opinion in relation to reopening the SkyTrail and how that could be carried out, but he hadn't yet heard back from legal counsel before this council meeting. Questions of could the Town reopen it, to HOW the Town would reopen it, and given that the Town has an engineering report stating that it should be closed, what could the Town do to mitigate risk from a legal standpoint are topics that are being explored. Trew said that he expected to hear a legal opinion on the matter within the next month.

He also touched on the insurance aspect of the situation, stating that the Town does have valid insurance on the bridge.

Councillor Bruce said that perhaps some levity was needed on the conversation surrounding the bridge, as some people in the community believe the bridge to be "perfectly fine, safe, and they're jumping the fence."

"I think that it also has to be said that it's NOT perfectly fine, it is not safe to be out there, especially at night, and you shouldn't be jumping the fence as there are boards that are missing, and that also has to be out there that it isn't a good idea to jump the fence and try and cross the bridge at this point," she said. "As of today, and until stuff is done."

Trew said that with the litany of information that's been provided about the state of the SkyTrail, with coverage in the pages of this newspaper as well as official documents from engineers talking about extensive and costly repairs, where the Town sits right now is from a legal standpoint and asking the questions regarding liability and if the bridge should reopen from their perspective.

Council discussed it further, with Mayor Weiterman, who shared that she had made the original motion to close the bridge back in 2013, stating that while everyone recognizes that the public wishes to see the bridge back open, due diligence has to be done by the Town. Weiterman also shared that the efforts of people such as Con Hammer have to be recognized as it shows that people such as him are invested in what happens in their community.

"We can't fault anyone who has this sort of commitment," she said. "But we have to do our due diligence."

Trew noted that while the SkyTrail is closed, the ability for the Town to accept donations for it is still active. Any such funds that are donated will be kept in a trust, going towards the bridge.

"We would take the money, we would put it in trust, and it would be ready," he said. "Honestly, if that's how people feel (touching on the 230 signed names), start putting your money where your mouth is."

The topic was tabled for the time being, with Trew noting that he'll try to pin down the legal opinion surrounding the matter.