People walk across the new Vedder Bridge shortly after it opened to the public for one day on Thursday. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Chilliwack says ‘hello’ to new Vedder Bridge

The new Vedder Bridge was open to pedestrians on Thursday in Chilliwack

It was a chance to walk the new Vedder Bridge from end to end.

The bridge span was opened for a few short hours on Thursday and it allowed thousands of people the first up-close look at the new $12.5 million structure.

City of Chilliwack hosted its Hello-Goodbye Vedder Bridge event, with a ribbon-cutting, free barbecue, live entertainment, kids activities, history displays and more.

“This is an absolutely historic moment for the City of Chilliwack,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz, recalling the arm-wrestling and back-and-forth that it took to get the new bridge built.

“We did make it happen,” she said. “It was a beautiful thing.”

All three levels of government each contributed $4 million dollars to the project, Gaetz told the huge crowd gathered on the bridge, “which is the largest joint project ever funded for City of Chilliwack.”

The two-lane steel-arch bridge has wider shoulders and two multi-use pathways for pedestrian and cyclists.

“It will provide a safe and comfortable connection to the Vedder-Rotary, and will be part of the Trans Canada Trail,” the mayor noted.

She acknowledged the dignitaries present, and thanked everyone who smoothed the way for the project to get underway, include Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl.

Chief Dave Jimmie, president of Ts’elxweyeqw Tribe, and chief of Squiala First Nation, said it was his honour to welcome everyone to the territory.

He sympathized with the frustration of motorists who’ve been fighting traffic as they tried to get up to Cultus Lake or Soowahlie.

“So I’m excited as well to be able to share in experiencing the new bridge opening,” he said.

Chief Jimmie also told a story about Captain John Soowahlie, who was a chief of Soowahlie in the late 1800s, who designed the first bridge at that site, and created a ferry service.

“He was definitely ahead of his time. Someone who was part of and instrumental in designing a bridge, using what they had at the time, was quite impressive.”

Jimmie underlined that it’s important to acknowledge those who historically have helped to see everyone move forward.

“As the mayor had mentioned I am very much about building bridges, very much about seeing how relationships can be nurtured, and how we can forget about some of the old history that haunts us sometimes. Coming and being a part of ceremonies and different events like this and having our culture recognized in these types of events has a lot of importance to me.”

Commemorative paddles were handed out to allow people to witness the Hello-Goodbye celebration, and share the experience.

Paving to connect the bridge will begin on Sunday night, and continue for three consecutive nights, from 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. causing potential delays and requiring a modicum of patience for motorists.

“Shortly after the paving is completed, we will be open to vehicular traffic,” the mayor said.


Mayor Sharon Gaetz speaks during the ceremony. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

A large crowd gathered for the event. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Squiala Chief David Jimmie speaks about some of the history of the Vedder Bridge. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Dignitaries open the new Vedder Bridge. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

People walk across the new Vedder Bridge as the old and current bridge is seen in the background. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

(Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Just Posted

VIDEO: Child airlifted to hospital after crash in rural Langley

Jaws of life were used to cut off the roof of a car and free its occupants from a two-car accident.

Sometimes it’s okay to simply try

I feel like a success even though I failed at donating blood

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Air quality advisory continues in the Lower Mainland

Smoke from Interior fires brings fine particulate

VIDEO: Mud racing makes annual Chilliwack stop

Family-friendly North West Mud Racing Association event returns for fourth stop of circuit

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

B.C. swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights are misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Most Read