Restoration of Kinsol trestle gets second look

The historic Kinsol trestle is a step nearer to being restored, instead of being knocked down.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District has stepped away from its December decision to knock down the 44-metre-high trestle over the Koksilah River, replacing it with a modern bridge, and has asked for a staff report on restoration.

We've asked for a report to outline the process and see if the restoration plan by Macdonald and Lawrence is doable, said Jack Peake, CVRD chairman.

Gordon Macdonald of Cobble Hill's Macdonald and Lawrence Timber Framing Ltd., said last month that the 86-year-old trestle could be restored to its original glory for about $4 million.

I was pleasantly surprised by the attitude of most of the board members, said Peake. There's a wish to restore this for the historic value and for the tourist value.

A replica would not have the same attraction for tourists, Peake said.

The cost of knocking down the trestle and building a more exact replica is estimated at $6 million.

Macdonald and Lawrence specializes in restoring historic timber structures and has worked on projects such as Windsor Castle.

Peake said it is estimated the cost will be about $160,000 to come up with a detailed plan for the restoration. The staff report, which will probably go to the regional district in two weeks, will look at where that money will come from.

The decision will be made as soon as the staff report comes down. We don't have time to sit and dither.

The province previously offered $1.5 million to dismantle the 187-metre-long trestle and another $1.6 million to build a new bridge.

That money is still available to the CVRD, provided the district is willing to take on liability for the project, Peake said.

John Horgan, Malahat-Juan de Fuca MLA, who last month tabled a 12,000-name petition in the legislature asking for the trestle to be restored, said he is delighted the board is taking a second look.

View the Kinsol Trestle Project