Town of Gore Bay to investigate boardwalk bridge options

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GORE BAY – The Town of Gore Bay is investigating its options and the costs involved to again locate bridges along its boardwalk by filling in the gaps (space between them currently) and over-water areas by installing stand-alone bridges before making a final decision as to whether it will use available funding to carry out this project. 

“I would propose that we look at the costs of putting fill in place over the grassy areas prior to the water areas to shorten the gaps between (where the original boardwalk is cut off from the other side of the boardwalk) and then look at having a standing bridge put in,” said Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne at a town public works and properties committee meeting earlier this week. “We can get pricing from a couple of companies to see how much we can fill in and close the gap to shorten the span and then look at free standing bridges (connected to the boardwalk on both sides).” 

This comes after Bob Prior and Nancy Clark made a delegation to the committee. “We are here tonight to inquire and request information in regards to the boardwalk described in the town website as an easy and accessible trail for a scenic and leisurely stroll around the bay, connecting the breakwall to the nature trail leading to Noble’s Park. This description would very likely be similar to the thoughts of the original designers, to create a walkway around the foot of the bay, close to the water for everyone to enjoy their leisurely walk.” 

The boardwalk has been with us for over 30 years with much discussion on the pros and cons of having it, said Mr. Prior. “But, in a short time everyone began to see the value and attraction it brought to the community, as do most residents today. Yes, it was costly to build, but very little cost to maintain, until just recently, 2017 I believe, when it was necessary to replace it with a new one.” He pointed out the two bridges across the creeks became a big part of the walkway giving one an opportunity to better view of the water and creatures below.

“Our concern is with the bridges,” stated Mr. Prior. “We have tried to find and/or follow any plans on your website in regards to the bridges but only found some information in the public works and the government meetings of April and July.” Through inquiries with town staff recently, there were no plans in place this year, only to gather information for next year’s budget.

“Very little information can be found about reconnecting the three sections of the boardwalk at the foot of the bay, except in the public works minutes of April 27,” said Mr. Prior. “Here, three options were given to solve the broken bridge problem and I quote, “option one involved rerouting the boardwalk to not be in the water with a smaller span. Option two and three involve supporting the bridge with screw piles and steel beams and option three is to leave the bridge in the existing location and use screw piles and metal braces. Roger (Chenard, town public works foreman) recommends option one. The committee agreed that option one is the best choice and directed staff to firm up details.”

“This would appear to be the cheapest and easiest to do, but is it the best? We don’t agree,” continued Mr. Prior. “This choice means one of two things would happen: One, rerouting could mean entering another roadway without sidewalks which becomes a safety issue and adds another disconnect like at Millsite and docks by CYC and also takes away the scenic attraction and viewing from the bridge; Or two, if not taken to the roadway then bridges would to be constructed and relocated to span the creeks somewhere other than the original locations, upstream, where there is very little water circulation in the summer time creating a green slimy view of the water below by the splash pad. By the splash pad there is much less of this unsightly stuff where the original bridge is because of the water movement closer to the bay.”

“Why, then, not replace the bridges at their original locations?” said Mr. Prior. “I am sure you have looked at the two disconnects where the bridges were removed. The distance to span the creeks is somewhat deceiving and looks far greater than it actually is because of the high water. The water at the west end of the cutoffs is fairly shallow, approximately one to two feet deep, until you get to the deeper creek bed where the bridges are required.”

“The distance from the cutoffs by the splash pad is approximately 90 feet and the other one is approximately 66 feet. We feel these distances can be shortened considerably to make the bridge span approximately 40-50 feet or less,” said Mr. Prior.

“We are asking, as our petition (which has 275 local residents’ signatures) states, that the boardwalk bridges be restored to their original locations for all to enjoy. This will provide a more connected and easier walkway, eliminating any further safety issues, while providing a more pleasurable and scenic view of the waterway and also providing a more direct route to the nature trail leading to Noble’s Park,” said Mr. Prior. He also asked if it is not possible to replace both bridges at this time because of financial restraints, for council to consider a temporary fix, the one bridge by the splash pad be replaced in time for next year’s use and that the path at Bickell’s Creek by rerouted with signage there and at the disconnect by Millsite directing people to the next section of the walkway.

“Thank you, Bob, I agree 100 percent the boardwalk is a benefit,” said Mayor Osborne, indicating the bridges should be in their original location. “It is not our intention not to have the bridges, and we have been looking at all options.”