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North Vancouver's new Spirit Trail bridge over Lynn Creek is finally open

The new bridge drastically cuts down the time it takes to walk for groceries for thousands of residents in one of North Van’s fastest growing neighbourhoods.

It might not be the new bridge that traffic-weary drivers fantasize about, but people walking and biking around Lynn Creek have a beautiful new crossing to boast about.

The Spirit Trail bridge over Lynn Creek opened on Wednesday after about six months of construction. The four-metre-wide, 52-metre-long span connects Seylynn Park, at the end of Hunter Street, to Bridgman Park.

Anna Belluz, who lives in one of the new apartments on Mountain Highway, said the bridge’s opening will be a big step away from car dependency for people who live in the burgeoning Lynn Creek neighbourhood.

“It’s going to make a huge difference to residents here because now we have options,” she said. “In my heart, it’s going to connect us more.”

With the bridge, walking from the corner of Hunter Street and Mountain Highway to Park & Tilford takes about seven or eight minutes, almost totally through parkland and over one of the most picturesque urban creeks on the West Coast. To make the same trip on foot via the notoriously congested roads/truck routes along Keith Road or Main Street, it would take about 16 minutes.

Previously, Belluz said riding a bicycle to any of the nearest grocery stores wouldn’t feel safe, because of the lack of protected bike lanes, and even walking was a chore because of noisy vehicles and gaps in the sidewalk network.

For Jon Kipling, who’s been able to watch the bridge come together from his Hunter Street apartment, it was an exciting day.

“We were constantly like, when is it going to be open? When is it going to be open?” he said. “We’re glad.”

Kipling watched as crews removed the blue construction fences and immediately brought his Doberman pup Deet out for their first crossing soon after.

Kipling said his wife works in one of the businesses on the west side of Lynn Creek, so her commute to work just got a lot shorter and more pleasant. And he said they will be far more likely now to walk than drive for groceries and services at Park & Tilford.

“This will be so much more convenient,” he said.

The bridge itself is getting positive reviews. Shelly Lundgren, who was among the first to cross the bridge after it opened, had nothing but praise for the look and feel of the new infrastructure.

“We walk here all the time,” she said. “This is awesome. It’s gorgeous.”

Belluz agreed.

“It’s staged well on both sides. It’s open on both sides. I don’t know if the word is ‘elegant,’ but it’s a beautiful bridge,” she said.

Belluz operates the @SeylynnNV Twitter account, which provides a bit of boosterism for the neighbourhood and some hype for new businesses or services opening there.

While the bridge is a definite boon, Belluz said the district still needs to do more to make the neighbourhood live up to its potential. That includes advancing other redevelopment projects in the area, as foreseen by the official community plan, more affordable housing, more shopping options, opening the new community centre, and some options for places to go for a drink in the evening. The entire district needs more of that, she added.

“I’m looking forward to the day that we can do everything, all within this area here,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the day where there is less traffic on the road, fewer cars, more possibilities for pedestrians.”

The census tract that includes the Lynn Creek neighbourhood had a growth rate of 21 per cent between 2016 and 2021, thanks largely to new residential buildings along Mountain Highway coming online. Between 2011 and 2022, there have been 2,425 new units approved through rezoning in Lynn Creek Town Centre, according to the district. The official community plan foresees about 3,000 new housing units and approximately 6,000 new residents as it evolves over the next 20 years.

The new Spirit Trail crossing over Lynn Creek was approved by district council in 2017. The budget for the project was roughly $5 million, with grants from TransLink covering about half of the cost.

There is a sign posted at the site that indicates proper lighting will be installed soon.

Mayor Mike Little welcomed the bridge’s opening.

“We’re obviously very excited to see that next connection completed, so that people can use the Spirit Trail to get over Lynn Creek,” he said. “It’s a great milestone and we look forward to people using that trail for recreational enjoyment for a long time to come.”