Editorial: Proposals on bridge swings a short-sighted movement

Swing Bridge, June 2019

Plans being put forward by the Manitoulin Municipal Association to request that the swing bridge at Little Current only open for waterborne traffic every two hours is puzzling, given how the issue only crops up during the short boating season and how nearly all Islanders are long since accustomed to figuring it into their travel plans.

It is hard to fathom someone making their way to an important medical appointment off-Island not allowing for many possible delays along the way, let alone timing their arrival at the swing bridge when it is not due to swing. It seems a drastic move to implement because of careless or forgetful behaviour on the part of a very few.

The impact that would be felt on the boating public would be unreasonable, instead of a 15 minute pause at the bridge, having to wait two hours seems more than a bit onerous.

The loss of business for the merchants of Little Current, local Island businesses, should prove a concern to other municipalities, considering the close ties that still bind our communities together. Unlike the argument put forward by Central Manitoulin Councillor Dale Scott, it is not all about NEMI. In his own arguments, Councillor Scott noted that some of that boat traffic travels beyond Little Current and on to Kagawong, Gore Bay and even Meldrum Bay and beyond.

It is sometimes easy to forget that we do live on an Island and with all of the benefits that come with that idyllic setting come some need for patience. Should we cancel deer season because so many have to wait for service due to hunting staff going on holidays?

The issue of swing bridge delays will largely be alleviated by the new two-lane structure (when it arrives) and commercial openings will remain ad hoc, coming at even less optimal times for those who do plan their trips more carefully. Even then, the bridge will still swing—probably on the hour.

Islanders are by their very nature nautically-minded. It goes with the territory, for good or ill. For many generations the only access to the Island was by ship, ferry or dangerous ice roads in the winter.

To the municipalities who are suggesting these changes, yes, it isn’t all about NEMI, but the minor inconvenience of the hourly seasonal delays should be outweighed by the negative impact it would have on their friends and neighbours whose livelihood depends, in part, on the relatively free passage of our waterborne visitors and residents.