Floating a new idea at Le Pays de la Sagouine in Bouctouche

The iconic but ice-battered wooden bridge at Le Pays de la Sagouine in Bouctouche will be repaired for this year's tourism season, but it won't be used.

Instead, a floating dock will be added to link the mainland to the theatrical village on Île-aux-Puces in Bouctouche Harbour.

Luc LeBlanc, the artistic director and general manager of Le Pays de la Sagouine, says he went to Greenwich National Park in Prince Edward Island to see a similar structure. 

Kate Letterick/CBC News

"I was walking and then I said , 'Where is it?' and I was on it, so that's a good feeling. I said, "Oh, this is great for us and then we can continue for 25 years, 30 years, 50 years," LeBlanc said Wednesday.

A section of the footbridge damaged by winter weather is twisted and leaning.

The bridge was inspected by Crandall Engineering, and it became clear that fixing it for this year wasn't possible, and that a more long-term solution was needed, LeBlanc said.

The federal and provincial governments announced they would spend $1.5 million in July 2018 to repair the 27-year-old bridge.

But the work wasn't completed because of the weather.

LeBlanc said the floating dock is more cost-effective.

"So it's half the price — it's half of the $1.5 million really to do the same thing as we have right now. To destroy it and do a new one, we're talking $3 million or $3.5 million. So we went for the cheaper option with a lot of possibilities."  

Ian Bonnell/CBC News

Pierre Plourde, the director of municipal engineering at Crandall, said the new bridge is prefabricated for assembly on site.

"There's concrete pillars at the bottom with chains that hold the whole thing, so it's not moving, so it's really stable, but it's really the concrete anchors at the bottom that really hold the whole thing together," he said.

Plourde said the bridge can be taken out of the water in the fall, then put back again in the spring.

Submitted/EZ Dock

Made of polyethylene platforms, the bridge should last for 25 years or more.

LeBlanc said he's not sure whether the wooden bridge will eventually be taken down, but it will look presentable for this summer.

"We're not going to leave it like that," he said. "There's a lot of tourists coming in. We want it to look good. We're going to fix it next week." 

Ian Bonnell/CBC News

LeBlanc said the water and electrical lines run underneath the old bridge, so that is something they'll have to look at down the road.

Le Pays de la Sagouine is a reconstructed Acadian village, based on Antonine Maillet's 1971 play La Sagouine. Activities take place at several venues in Bouctouche.