October 2, 2013
Glacier Skywalk nears completion
BREWSTER TRAVEL CANADA
The construction of a glass and steel bridge in Jasper National Park is nearing completion, which will allow tourists and visitors to view mountain peaks while walking suspended near glaciers.
“We are delighted to be in the final stages of construction on the Glacier Skywalk project,” said Michael Hannan, president of Brewster Travel Canada.
“The Discovery Trail and Discovery Vista (or Skywalk) are nearly complete and the project will be substantially completed by mid-October of this year. All equipment and personnel will be removed from the site at this time.”
The Glacier Skywalk project consists of a 400-metre interpretive boardwalk and a glass-floored observation platform, which extends 30 metres out over the Sunwapta Valley and the Columbia Ice Fields.
The design follows the natural landscape of the mountainside and extends outward to provide the bridge with a transparent glass floor.
Brewster can’t provide an exact date for substantial completion because things are changing so quickly at the site.
However, the company anticipates the project will be completed as scheduled this October.
“Next spring, crews will put the final touches on the Skywalk,” said Hannon.
“This includes installation of the interactive exhibits at the interpretive stations along the walkway.”
The tourist attraction will be open to the public in May of 2014.
The structure was assembled and erected by Gartner Steel & Glass and Bova Steel with scaffolding by Brand Engineering. It was swung into place by a Mammoet crane and tensioned by DSI Canada.
PCL Construction coordinated the lift and installation and managed the project to ensure quality and safety.
Sturgess Architecture of Calgary, RJC Consulting Engineers and PCL Builders Inc. produced the design for the project, which involved the construction of a cantilevered steel frame composed of irregular shapes that match the natural setting.
The tourist attraction is owned by Brewster Travel Canada and replaces a roadside turnout on Highway 93.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and the Bow Valley Naturalists lobbied the government to not approve the project, due to concerns over privatizing part of a public park and the potential effects on wildlife and the landscape.
As part of the federal environmental assessment process, Brewster commissioned a wildlife impact study that focused on collecting mountain goat and bighorn sheep data.
The study provides information about how and when mountain goats and bighorn sheep use trails and cliffs in and around the Sunwapta Canyon Viewpoint.
In addition, CPAWS said the Glacier Skywalk is not consistent with the requirements and ethos of Parks Canada’s own legislative and policy framework.
CPAWS claims the project contradicts a clause in Parks Canada’s national parks policy (4.1.3), which states that “Only outdoor activities which promote the appreciation of a park’s purpose and objectives, which respect the integrity of the ecosystem, and which call for a minimum of built facilities will be permitted.”
In response, Brewster said the Glacier Discovery Walk was constructed on a previously disturbed, existing right-of-way for the Icefields Parkway.
The Icefields Parkway opened in 1940 as a scenic road for the use and pleasure of national park visitors.
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