The Badley Bridge leading into Elora has been slated to be replaced since 2015.

Now, with the construction set to begin in the fall, a group of local people are fighting to have it refurbished instead.

Marty Van Vliet with the Elora BIA says the bridge has important historical value to the town.

“History is not something you can get again,” he argues. “It’s part of what the fabric that makes a community up, it’s what people feel about their community and what outsiders see a community as.”

Fellow business owner Laura Demers started an online petition against replacing the bridge, which has over 1,000 signatures. She says that comments on that petition show how much the bridge means to people.

Kelly Linton, warden and mayor of Centre Wellington, says that refurbishing the bridge is not financially viable.

“Whenever there is an opportunity to save a bridge, we will do that, but in this case the cost was just prohibitive,” he explains.

Linton says that a new, more accessible bridge would cost taxpayers around $7 million. Refurbishing the existing bridge, meanwhile, would cost more than double. That cost, he believes, would jeopardize other public projects.

“In 2015, they actually had to redo the sidewalks because they fell in. It’s falling apart,” he says.

The decision to replace the bridge was made in 2015 after public consultations.

Critics of the designs say the process hasn’t been collaborative and that they aren’t happy with the plans they’ve seen.

Linton says the final design of the bridge will take the look and feel of downtown Elora into consideration.

Another public meeting will be held in June, with construction expected to begin in the fall.