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SLCC proposes $6M bridge

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The Squamish Cultural Lil'wat Centre announced last week it's proposing to build a pedestrian bridge over the Fitzsimmons Creek to connect the centre with the Audain Art Museum.

The proposal is part of SLCC's Cultural District Completion Plan to create a cultural district with other arts institutions in the village. The bridge, which has already received support from the Audain Art Museum, would be funded by a combination of government, corporate and community sources, says Casey Vanden Heuvel, executive director of the SLCC. It's expected to cost between $4 and $6 million.

"The cultural centre is working very hard to find partners to support a new pedestrian bridge," he says. "That bridge would essentially create a compelling cultural stroll to go with our village stroll."

Alfred Waugh, the architect who designed the centre, has already completed a pro bono preliminary design for the bridge. "The design for the bridge is inspired by our ancestors," Vanden Heuvel says. "It's fashioned after the shape of a fish basket that was used to catch salmon by the First Nations for thousands of years. From that basic design comes a really amazing pedestrian bridge."

The cultural centre has been in talks with the Audain Art Museum since philanthropist and art collector Michael Audain announced in the fall that he planned to build a world-class museum in Whistler to house his extensive private collection of B.C. art, including paintings by Emily Carr along with First Nations' pieces.

"There are people in Whistler who see the Audain Art Museum as an opportunity," Vanden Heuvel says. "In the arts community we see it as our Olympics. In the arts and culture world, for us it is as big as that."

On Tuesday night council set the ball rolling to approve an increase in size to the Audain Art Museum. The expansion plans call for a 1,491 square metre (16,150 square foot) addition to the already approved 3,640m3 (almost 40,000 sq.ft), bringing the total size to 5,131m3 (55,000 sq.ft).

By giving first and second reading to the zoning amendment, council cleared the way for another public hearing June 4.


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