A new bridge that will better help people access Back Bay Cemetery is nearer to completion after several pieces of donated construction materials were lifted in by helicopter on Saturday.
The bridge, which has been a project initiated by the True North Rotary Club, is expected to be completed with a grand opening this summer.
On Saturday, Acasta Heliflight made eight trips from the Giant Mine public boat launch to the Back Bay Cemetery to carry two 65 feet long Northern Utilities poles and six big bags of riprap to the site on Back Bay.
Also known as the Pioneer Graveyard, the cemetery is recognized as a City of Yellowknife heritage site and many early residents of the municipality are commemorated with grave sites.
“We had to use the extra big helicopter,” explained Michael Kalnay, of True North Rotary, noting that the poles were about 1,800 kilograms each. “Acasta (Heliflight) paid for that and was a 100-per-cent donation.
“That is probably $5,000 worth of helicopter time that they donated and so now they are way over $10,000 in donations to the project at this point.”
Aside from the pole donations from Northern Utilities, rocks were supplied by CR Enterprises, and were moved by Konge Construction to the public dock
The City of Yellowknife also donated about $10,000 worth of construction materials for the project, said Kalnay.
Kalnay said the project began about 18 months ago with design engineering by Guy Architects before piers were built into the creek banks last summer. Gravel was moved in during the first week of November and Saturday was just a matter of leveling and wedging poles into the pier.
The bridge replaces a 20-foot walkway that had been closer to the shore and which had to be replaced due to soil conditions.
“What we will have there is a safe and accessible crossing to get to the pioneer cemetery and it is going to protect the environment and animal habitat that the old bridge was interfering with,” he said. “So it will be safe, accessible, environmentally sound and with any luck, it will stand up for a long time.”
He added that to date, there has been more than 506 volunteer hours put toward the bridge project, with about 400 left to go.