Swan Lake boardwalk in Saanich gets a fix

Visitors to Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary have one more week to walk across the 755-foot floating boardwalk crossing the lake until it’s closed for an upgrade.

The wooden structure, built in 1991, has aged beyond repair and will close for renovations for the rest of the summer.

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“Although it’s beautiful, it’s falling apart. It needs to be replaced for the safety of our guests,” executive director Kathleen Burton said.

“We have 65,000 guests who come through the sanctuary every year, so we want to make sure it’s a safe one.”

Paths around the lake will remain open, as will hiking trails on Christmas Hill. The wooden structure will be replaced with aluminum.

The North Wharf, also known as Founders Wharf, was replaced in June 2010.

Replacing the rest of the boardwalk will cost almost $800,000, Burton said, despite an estimate in 2011 that put the cost at $450,000.

She said the organization is not clear on why the rise was so significant, but said inflation and the cost of transporting materials is a factor.

Since the organization can only afford a portion of the replacement costs, the renovation will occur in phases, she said. Work will begin on the section nearest the Nature House, which goes through the willows, July 15. It will cost about $300,000 and is funded through donations, as well as $15,000 from the District of Saanich and $75,000 from the Victoria Natural History Society.

The organization is accepting donations toward the next phase through its Bridges to Nature Campaign.

Federal regulations require the work to be done during the summer.

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