Municipal Association asks that new bridge process be expedited

An artist’s rendering of the new double-lane swing bridge.

MANITOULIN – Members of the Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA) want to see a faster process for replacing the current swing bridge in Little Current.

“We need to find a way to expedite the process,” said Lee Hayden, reeve of Gordon/Barrie Island, at an MMA meeting last week. “We are going to be in trouble with the old bridge soon. I think the plans for the new bridge is fantastic. But if something happens and we don’t have a bridge in operation it would affect businesses, everyone on the Island. We need to knock on whatever doors we need to to have this (construction of the new bridge) move ahead quicker than is being estimated.” 

“It would be nice to have resolutions from councils endorsing the plans asking for this,” said Gregg Cooke, consultant and project manager with Stantec Consulting. He told the meeting, “we are planning to wrap all the work that is required (before construction could start) this summer,” but he noted government funding is not in place and the project hasn’t been deemed a priority at this point. “Our next step is to get the environmental clearance for the project in place, and then the ministry (of Transportation) and look at where it fits into their priority list.” 

It has been noted that it could take five to 10 years for all approvals and the construction of the bridge to be completed.

“We would be happy to do a motion on that,” said Al MacNevin, mayor of the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands, and Mr. Hayden said he would second the motion.

“I wonder if we would want to add that municipalities be asked to provide resolutions to this effect,” said Richard Stephens, mayor of the Municipality of Central Manitoulin. 

“Would there be any value to having a similar resolution that all councils could consider?” asked Billings Reeve Ian Anderson.

A motion was passed by the MMA, “that the MMA support the Stantec Consulting study and their recommendation for a Little Current swing bridge (with two lanes of traffic) west of the existing swing bridge. And further resolved to circulate this resolution to the minister of transportation, the Honourable Caroline Mulroney, MPP Michael Mantha, MP Carol Hughes, and to all the Manitoulin Municipal Association members.”

Mr. Cooke and Melissa Delfino, senior project manager for the Ministry of Transportation’s Northeastern Region, outlined, as has been published previously, how the preferred option was determined for the bridge replacement.