Mayoral candidate Joe Gallipeau was galvanized into action Monday night stating he would not support a recommendation to purchase and install two pedestrian bridges from Duck Island to the Water Treatment Plant.
Pedestrians of Smiths Falls have been without the link from Duck Island heading to Abbott Street since fast flowing waters made that bridge dangerous to cross. It was removed in late fall 2017 and has been further blocked to walkers for over a year.
Gallipeau asked Art Manhire, Manager of Community Services, if the ‘ask’ for the bridges had been put to tender. Manhire answered ‘no’ and Gallipeau immediately said he would not support the request.
Manhire explained the company that put the first bridge in (plus the bridge at the other end of the island) would take on the new structure keeping in mind that the Town would receive a credit for $52,000 from the deconstruction and salvage of parts of the bridge that was dismantled. The total cost, quoted by Links Bridges, of the two-part new bridge would be $250,000, which, with the $52,000 credit, makes the cost to the Town $198,000.
Gallipeau was unimpressed stating “due diligence” wasn’t done as it didn’t go out for tender. Back and forth between the two men elicited the information from Manhire that “metrics from Parks Canada” have changed re controlling the water flow, and that initially, when the first study was done on putting bridges in, the “costs were over $1 million.”
He added that by going with Links Bridges, the Town would be “leveraging the asset” they already have with the company.
Malcolm Morris, CAO, further explained there is a significant height difference between the island and the shore, that significant components of the old bridge, like rails and decking would be re-used, that a cohesive look between bridges could be considered, that two bridges might, or might not, be the way to go and even threw out the question was Links Bridges the company to go with.
Discussion ensued. Councillor Maloney asked about the aesthetics (metal and composite) of the bridges involved, Councillor Brennan wondered why the bridge couldn’t be arched, Mayor Pankow agreed with Gallipeau even though what Links Bridges was offering was “a good deal,” Gallipeau further asked if the bridges would be wheelchair accessible and then Cummings threw his thoughts in.
“Do we really need the bridge,” he asked. “Could we not spend that money on Confederation Bridge?”
Morris suggested reaching out to other communities to determine cost and good value; Manhire added that if the Town went with Links Bridges the bridges could be constructed by Thanksgiving.
After much discussion, and a suggestion from Mayor Pankow that it would be prudent to look at the overall plan re the Water Treatment plant, Abbott Street, and that part of the retail portion of town, councillors and mayor decided to put out a Request for Proposal (RFP).
The report from Manhire included background and history: “It was determined the crossing should go from Duck Island to the spillway and then from the spillway to the water treatment plant. That means there is a need for two bridges covering approximately 160 feet. This represented the lowest cost and the easiest solution to keep a year-round structure that sits above the high-water mark.”