FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial, federal and municipal governments will invest a combined $3.9 million to repair and upgrade the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge in Fredericton.

“The trails network is used year-round by New Brunswickers,” said Families and Children Minister Stephen Horsman, who is also responsible for wellness. “We are listening to New Brunswickers and investing in what is important to them. Timely repairs and upgrades are important to maintain our reputation as a four-season recreation destination.”

Horsman spoke on behalf of Energy and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet.

The investment, which will be evenly shared between the three levels of government, will go towards infrastructure upgrades, engineering services, construction and repairing damage caused by storms and other natural occurrences. The work includes $400,000 in funding from the province’s 2017-18 capital budget to repair some of the concrete piers.

“Our government is proud to invest in the refurbishment of the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge,” said Fredericton MP Matt DeCourcey. “It is vital that we preserve this landmark of active living in Fredericton. The upgraded bridge will undoubtedly attract new visitors to the area, which will further grow our local businesses. It is thanks to projects like this one that Canadian communities will remain among the best places in the world to live, work and raise a family.”

It is estimated that an average of 3,000 people a day cross the Thorpe bridge in summer and 1,000 a day in winter.

“The Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge is a Fredericton icon and an important piece of provincial infrastructure that is used daily by our residents and visitors,” said Mayor Mike O’Brien. “It offers some of the best views of our city and serves as a key active transportation link, connecting the north and south sides of our community. We are pleased to partner with the province and federal government to invest in the bridge’s refurbishment.”

The provincial trails system is a network of multi-use recreational trails with more than 1,100 kilometres of trail for pedestrians, cyclists and hikers. Some trails are also accessible to snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles.

“This is great news for our community and especially for the residents and visitors who use New Brunswick trails for recreation and for active transportation,” said Horsman. “I encourage all New Brunswickers to explore our trails network. It is a great way to connect with others and stay active and healthy.”

The tourism industry employs more than 42,000 people in New Brunswick and contributes more than $520 million annually to the provincial GDP. For every public dollar invested in promoting New Brunswick as a tourism destination, it is estimated that there is a return of $3.19 to the province. The budget for the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture increased by 17.6 per cent this year. In addition, a capital investment of $75 million will be made over the next three years for upgrades to assets of cultural and historic significance.