The High Level Bridge is one step closer to illumination, as money starts to trickle in for the proposed idea that would see the bridge lit up with thousands of LED lights.

The vision to light Edmonton’s hundred-year-old, landmark bridge is meant to “illuminate the spirit of Edmonton,” and be a signature written in light for the world to see.

“This is talking about our pride in our city and what better way to show our pride,” said Dave Mowat, the man spearheading the project.

A report on how the project would be funded was presented to councillors Monday, before members of the executive committee voted unanimously to recommend council approve lighting the bridge.

Officials say it will cost about $3 million to string 60,000 LED lights across the High Level Bridge, each one that can be individually controlled and coloured.

The money will not come from government – rather, the project will be paid for through a fundraising campaign from Edmontonians and business owners.

“I think we’re at a spot where governments can’t possibly do everything we want to do as a society,” Mowat said.

"This is a very generous city and it's a city with both a lot of people who care about it and a lot of people who have been very successful here so we've talked to people around the city and quite honestly there isn't anybody who has turned us down yet. We don't have the money in the bank but we're pretty sure people are going to step up."

The Light the Bridge website has launched and donations are starting to trickle in, with more than $1,500 donated Monday morning.

Mowat says each light bulb will cost about $25 and tax receipts will be given for donations over $20.

EPCOR has already donated $250,000 as seed money for design and installation to help get the project off the ground. Other Edmonton and area businesses and organizations have also said they will contribute to the project in some way.

"We can add it up and it's just about under half a million dollars and we haven't even started," Mowat said.

It would not be the first time a bridge has been lit up in a major city, organizers say, but it would be a "never-been-tried-before" project for Edmonton.

"Others have done it, Vancouver has seen the light, Budapest glows, New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Paris has danced with the light for a long time, and even our good friends in Calgary," says a narrated voice in a promotional video for Light the Bridge.

The group says the bridge could be lit up different ways for special occasions - including holidays, University of Alberta, Edmonton Eskimos or Oilers games.

"It could follow a score and beat with pride. It could be a statement," the video says.

"We live in a city we know is beautiful, the plan to brighten the bridge might sound like a lot of heavy lifting but together, it's light work."

Light the Bridge officials hope to have fundraising completed by the fall, with the bridge lit up by next spring.

Excitement surrounding bridge project

Mayor Stephen Mandel says he's excited for the project to take shape.

"It's going to be very nice and interesting to have our High Level Bridge lit up and without taxpayer dollars," Mandel said.

Coun. Kerry Diotte and Kim Krushell also expressed support for lighting the bridge.

"I've seen these kinds of bridges in Long Beach, California for instance and they do a great job if lighting it," said Diotte. "It is sort of a very grand structure and it will be cool."

"I think that it will be a go and clearly executive committee recommended to council to approve it," Krushell said.

"I think it's exciting. It's programmable. The fact that if you have sports and if you're excited about the Eskimos and you can go green, gold or you can go blue and orange for the Oilers, on Canada Day you can go red and white."

According to the report presented to councillors Monday, once the project is completed, it is expected to cost $17,000 anually to operate.

Funding for the operating cost is expected to come from savings in the city's existing street light program as well as existing operating programs in the city's transportation department.

With files from Ashley Molnar