Planned bridge over Guelph Speed River put on hold
GUELPH -- A planned bridge over the Speed River in Guelph has divided people living in the city.
A group of residents against the plans pushed the Ministry of Environment to take a closer look at the city's environmental assessment and the project is now on hold.
Martin Collier doesn't want the city to build the Emma Earl Pedestrian Bridge.
"This bridge is a bridge to nowhere," he said. "It doesn't help really anybody and it actually takes people further out of their way."
He said a better solution includes extending Speedvale Avenue.
"If we just add one more block of bike lanes and hopefully a nice sidewalk too up on Speedvale Avenue, we'd solve the problem," Collier said.
The 90-metre bridge would be about 200 metres downstream from Speedvale Avenue. Council approved an environmental assessment in 2015.
"The bridge is going to be an important connection for cyclists and pedestrians walking and it's a real connection for the downtown and for the eastern side of the city," said Terry Gayman, an engineer with the City of Guelph.
The assessment was submitted to the Ministry of Environment, but Collier made a bump up request to the ministry.
"We outlined all of our issues, the planning issues," Collier said.
He said their concerns pointed out deficiencies with the environmental assessment performed by the City of Guelph, adding the city didn't properly consult the public or First Nations and didn't provide enough information regarding possible at-risk species.
"Additional information is required to meet environmental assessment requirements," a statement from the Ministry of Environment said in part.
The bridge is now delayed by up to a year.
"We don't have an estimate in the cost impacts at this time and it really will depend on the length of delay," Gayman said.
Collier said he's happy about the delay.
"We're just trying to say sober second thought, look at Speedvale," he said.
The City said it will move forward with an official plan amendment to allow the project to go ahead.
"We continue to stand behind the process that we followed and the work that was completed," Gayman said. "We'll just continue to work diligently to address the ministry's concerns."
Collier said he hopes the delay will encourage the city to reconsider its plans.