New Lawson Creek Bridge Dedication Ceremony
Saturday, September 20, 2008
West Vancouver, BC: The District’s Parks Department has just completed its most recent work of art – a foot bridge and boardwalk alongside John Lawson Park. Functional, yet also a work of environmental and creative expression – the bridge was constructed entirely of wood found in West Vancouver’s forests and on its beaches. It was cut at the District’s Operations Centre – the only municipality in the Lower Mainland to operate its own saw mill.
The 35-foot bridge connects to a 40-foot boardwalk and crosses John Lawson creek right at the park’s foreshore. Its builder, municipal employee, Mark Kachaluba, has produced a number of unique creek crossings and for this one on the foreshore, he chose something natural and rustic - wood that would eventually bleach to match the surrounding driftwood. The bridge’s railing is courtesy of a cedar tree that washed up on shore in Caulfeild Cove. The natural curve of the tree, which had bent to find the sunlight, serves as the base, gently winding to become the bridge’s railing. Because it’s a fish-bearing creek, Kachaluba used driftwood to build intimate viewing areas.
For Kachaluba, each bridge is different, depending on the environment and residents’ needs. One thing however, remains the same: raw materials cut to specification on the District’s own mill, fostering sustainability and lower transportation time and cost. The District bought the mill just a few years ago. After the first project, it had already paid for itself as the District had previously purchased its wood at retail prices. Not only was it expensive, it also limited the options for building. “When you have your own mill, you can use fallen trees, or re-use wood from renovations. With an abundance of product that’s large in size, you can work with non-standard dimensions, making everything thicker and stronger, so it lasts longer,” says Kachaluba.
The Lawson Creek bridge structure comes on the heels of last summer’s bridge on Eagle Harbour Road. That structure is more formal and comprises beams from the demolished West Vancouver Recreation Centre, as well as wood from trees that have fallen in the municipality. Often, wood that’s washed up on the beach is used in the structures, as the red and yellow cedar is a favourite of Kachaluba’s. “The beach is a gold mine of interesting, eclectic pieces of wood that can be integrated into different parts of structures that I build.”
District staff also credit local tree companies for their cooperation. Often a private company will fell a tree, leaving it for the District to use. As well, during last year’s wind storm, West Vancouver trees were hard hit in different areas within the municipality - the District was able to use a lot of those fallen trees for future projects.
Adds Kachaluba: “Aside from the cost-savings and the environmental benefits, the mill gives the District creative freedom. Not every project is a great work of art, but I try to make each bridge or staircase unique.”
The Lawson Creek bridge was made possible by a grant from the West Vancouver Community Foundation to the West Vancouver Shoreline Preservation Society from the Donald and Marjorie Lanskail Fund. An official ceremony is planned for Saturday, September 20th at 3:00pm where members of the West Vancouver Community Foundation, West Vancouver Shoreline Preservation Society, Provincial and Federal Government officials, West Vancouver Council and Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones will be present.