Miners Climb opened in Princeton

It’s taken more than two years, but the trail linking Princeton’s downtown with the upper benches is finally open to the public again.

Steve Kidd/Spotlight The ceremonies over

Steve Kidd/Spotlight The ceremonies over

It’s taken more than two years, but the trail linking Princeton’s downtown with the upper benches is finally open to the public again.

The new stairs replacing the zigzag trail were officially opened last Thursday with community officials and supporters taking part in a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, with an official new name, the Miner’s Climb.

“It left such a void in the community, it’s been a main transportation route for walking, it connects all our three benches with downtown,” said Mayor Frank Armitage. “We knew we wanted to do something. There was no way we weren’t going to have a walkway or stairway.”

The new concrete stairs making up the Miner’s Climb stretch up the hillside, with five rest stops along the way to make the climb a little easier, as well as providing viewpoints overlooking the town.

The opening of the new stairs is the end of a long process that started in 2010, when a pickup truck parked at the top rolled free and took the old zig zag trail out.

“There were some technical challenges but we overcame them and here we are today,” said Armitage. Some of those challenges included tying the stairs into the steep slope and making sure the railings were up to code to avoid potential liabilities for falls.

“But here it is today and it’s great,” he said. “The actual construction, it was about a nine month total. The last month and a half was getting over those technical challenges and our contractor and our architect were having differences of opinion.”

Armitage said the building of the Miners’ Climb wouldn’t have happened without a grant from the province that covered almost  80 per cent of the costs.

“We just didn’t have the funding,” said Armitage. “The whole thing was $225, 000. It went out to tender and the provincial government paid $180,000 of that.”

There are other ways to walk from the bench to the downtown, but the people wanted the trail access back, according to the mayor.

“People were so used to this,” he said. “At the back end of the second bench is a wooden stairway to get up to the third bench, so now we are connected to all levels of community.”