MANITOWANING—Following the news that the Rogers Creek bridge located in The Slash would be closed by order of Assiginack’s engineer, Assiginack council received a delegation from Lakeshore Road taxpayers at its last council meeting, offering alternative measures and asking that the municipality address the work in its next budget.
Andy Bowerman and Jim Mortimer were given the floor to address council, and they began by noting that the municipality’s engineer gave a quote of over $700,000 to replace the Rogers Creek bridge saying, “We realize council that doesn’t deem it as a priority.”
Mr. Mortimer provided two quotes to council that he had solicited on his own accord, one from Lessard Welding for a 60 ft. one-lane modular steel bridge for $89,300, the other from Algonquin Bridge for an 18.3 x 4.6 metre single lane steel girder bridge for $64,929 plus HST.
Mr. Mortimer said the bridges would likely come out closer to $150,000, split with neighbouring Tehkummah as per a longstanding agreement, which would bring the price down to approximately $75,000.
“This road is used by the public as a recreational road both in the summer and winter,” Mr. Mortimer continued. “But you’ve got it blocked off completely. I can’t understand why it can’t be opened enough for cyclists, walkers, snowmobilers and four-wheelers.”
Councillor Hugh Moggy asked if the municipality’s engineers could have a look at quotes, which Mayor Paul Moffat said they could.
Mr. Mortimer asked council if the bridge could be opened up four feet to allow for pedestrian, snowmobile and four-wheeler traffic. He noted that with the bridge closure, snowmobilers would have to cross the river, which could mean crossing thin ice.
CAO Alton Hobbs explained that the municipality would not have the money in its budget for the next couple of years to do any work on the bridge.
“We have the second highest rate in tax assessments after Lake Manitou, yet we’re not getting anything for it,” Mr. Mortimer responded.
The audience began to say that they felt they were not a priority in the eyes of council, causing Mayor Moffat to use his gavel and remind the group that only Mr. Bowerman and Mr. Mortimer had the floor.
The mayor asked the group if they had approached Tehkummah council, which Mr. Mortimer said they had.
“They knew about this in 2007 and are only addressing it now, in 2015?” Mr. Mortimer spoke to The Expositor following the council meeting. “Is it going to take another eight years before it is fixed? As ratepayers, we’re very concerned about the decisions being made by council.”
Mr. Mortimer explained that a petition has been passed along regarding the timeliness of the bridge’s work, and it has garnered 244 signatures so far.
When asked about the bridge quotes, Mr. Hobbs explained to this newspaper that they are “do-able” but have a seven-year life, according to Assiginack’s engineers—something Mr. Mortimer disputes.
“With all due respect, they’re really doing their homework and they have found lower prices (than the $700,00), but we have an engineer’s report, and then we have a group of people with numbers from sales people,” Mr. Hobbs said. “But we’re definitely going to pass these quotes along to our engineers,” adding that it’s “entirely possible” that the bridge could last longer than seven years. “The $700,000-quote is the Taj Mahal,” he admitted.
Mr. Hobbs also said the municipality takes into account the traffic count when deciding the priority of the project which, despite the names on the petition, is not much.
If the engineer gives the same figure found by Mr. Mortimer, it is much more likely to move more quickly, he added.
The CAO also said it was unlikely that the bridge would be opened up to recreational traffic, as once it’s closed, it’s closed.