Billings supports objections expressed by Northeast Town to alter swing bridge schedule

Swing Bridge, June 2019

KAGAWONG – Billings council has unanimously voted to oppose a resolution supporting the swing bridge opening being extended to every two hours instead of the current hourly swing. 

“Councillor (Bryan) Barker and I were at the recent Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA) meeting in which this was discussed among all the municipalities,” said Mayor Ian Anderson, at a council meeting last week. He pointed out the MMA had passed a motion for every council to consider the bridge opening being changed to every two hours. 

Councillor Barker said, “I’m thinking that even with the MMA recommendation, and a story that was in The Manitoulin Expositor last week that NEMI is not supportive of the move (to have the bridge open every two hours) after hearing overwhelmingly from boating and their businesspeople that we shouldn’t support this either.” 

As was reported in The Expositor “The Northeast Town council has weighed in on the debate of having the bridge swing at two-hour intervals instead of one-hour during the busy summer months. Council for the municipality in which the bridge is housed will not support this move after hearing overwhelmingly from North Channel boaters and Little Current businesspeople.”

“I’m inclined to support NEMI council and defer to them and the research they’ve done,” said Councillor Barker.  

“The bridge itself and its opening is what provides the Manitoulin Island experience for many visitors,” stated Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack. “And most Island residents know to be at the bridge before each hour when it opens. NEMI feels that having the bridge opening changed to every two hours will mean at that time that it will take even more time, about 25-30 minutes to accommodate boaters when they arrive at the bridge. I agree with Bryan, I won’t be voting to support this.”

“I agree with both councillors,” said Councillor Michael Hunt. “With more boating traffic and Little Current businesses depending on this, I’m not in support of the change to the bridge being opened every two hours.” 

“I am inclined to agree with all three councillors,” stated Councillor Sharon Jackson. “I agree to support NEMI and keep this to one hour.” 

Mayor Anderson told council, “I as well was ready to support (the MMA suggestion) with some of the fairly lengthy waits I’ve had in my vehicle waiting to be able to get over the bridge. The sheer volume of traffic has made things difficult this year. I’ve seen traffic backed up about a half mile north of the bridge and well past the hospitals on the way to the bridge going off the Island.” He said that with the stance taken by NEMI council and the reasons for it, “I’ve changed my mind (and oppose the MMA recommendation).”

Council was unanimous in voting against the change to the bridge being opened every two hours.