After residents of the Upper Squamish Valley — namely the nuns of the Queen of Peace Monastery — voiced their concerns about erosion near the only public link to the area, repairs have been made.
At the Oct. 23 Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board meeting, board chair and Area D director Tony Rainbow said he's received thanks from residents and the nuns for the recent repairs to the area — but the SLRD was not behind the work done.
And it wasn't divine intervention.
Tom Cloutier, operations manager with Miller Capilano, confirmed the company did the work for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Miller Capilano normally undertakes highway maintenance on the Sea to Sky Highway, as well as side roads including the Squamish Valley Road, where the erosion and Pilchuck Bridge are located.
The work began on Sept. 3 and was completed by Sept. 26.
"I think what originally happened was it was being eroded, but very slowly. It wasn't really jeopardizing the road at the time, but there was high water prior to the start of September... It did a considerable amount of new erosion; it was in about four metres [from] the road. Then it became a bit of an emergency to get it done," Cloutier told The Chief.
In April, the nuns of the Queen of Peace Monastery sent the SLRD a letter asking for their help to advocate for repairs near the Pilchuck Bridge, citing concerns for loss of life if the bridge collapsed.
In response to the concerns, Rainbow said the SLRD had contacted the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to reiterate concerns.
"We wrote them a letter and basically said to them, ‘This is nonsense. There must be some money available to spend now to prevent this bridge from getting washed away, rather than waiting until it gets washed away and then using emergency funds to fix it.' ... Without any reference to us, the job was done."
For some time, who did the work seemed a mystery.
During the October SLRD board meeting, its members weren't sure who was behind the repairs.
"Maybe it was God," Whistler Mayor and SLRD director Jack Crompton quipped.
Sister Claire Rolf, one of the nuns behind the original letter to the SLRD asking for help, said the sisters sent a thank you note to Miller Capilano for their work.
"It just feels a lot safer when those waters are really high. We're very grateful that it got done before there was an important accident. It might never have happened, but it could have," Rolf said.
Cloutier said the nuns weren't the only residents who took note of the repairs.
"During the work, we had visits from some of the residents up there, and they were all very happy it was being done. We liaised with the Squamish First Nation from the start of the project all the way through. We got some accolades after the fact from some of the residents and the sisters at the monastery there."