on September 29, 2016 by test_editor in Archive_2016, Print Articles, September, Comments Off on September 29, 2016: Bridge the Gap; Prince of Wales Bridge.

September 29, 2016: Bridge the Gap; Prince of Wales Bridge.

September 29, 2016: Bridge the Gap;
Prince of Wales Bridge.

By Aileen Duncan.

“The status quo has proved insufficient, and the question remains on how to move forward.”

Stretching across the Ottawa River and setting the subject for countless stories, the Prince of Wales bridge has a silhouette far more recognizable than its name. On first glance it appears an un-kept or abandoned railway bridge. In fact, this simple, unregulated feature of the National Capital Region is both well-loved and well-used.

There have been discussions, studies and proposals done in the years before and since the city purchased the property. This is not a new conversation. So why has nothing been done? Why is this asset falling into disrepair while the municipality puts off making a decision about it’s future?

As bridges go, this isn’t as simple as the Fifth-Clegg footbridge. There are stakeholders from all levels of government, and each of these parties must agree on a vision and contribute to the financing of the project. The status quo has proved insufficient, and the question remains on how to move forward.

The Ottawa Rail Bridge (ORB) Project was created to highlight this issue, and provide leadership and pressure to discuss the next steps to revitalize the bridge. We will give voice to residents that use this bridge and want to see it improved. Currently, we are informing ourselves on the history of the bridge and the factors that have prevented a decision to date. By clarifying the problems, we can better move towards a solution.

In the weeks since I began the petition, I’ve spoken to residents from neighbourhoods on both sides of the river. It’s become clear to me that there is a real demand for revitalization of the bridge, and strong potential for economic and social benefits to the surrounding communities if it were reclaimed as a transportation link.

The time for indecision has passed. The bridge can no longer exist as it has for decades, with unauthorized use tacitly permitted. Revitalization would physically and symbolically increase the fluidity of this particular border, and it would benefit communities and economies on both sides of the river. Once the city made plans to close the bridge from public access, they recognized an issue that was easier to ignore. We need to show our political leaders that it is better to build bridges than walls.

Five things you can do:

  1. Write to your city councillor, MP, and MPP,
  2. Sign the petition on change.org. https://www.change.org/p/city-of-ottawa-keep-the-prince-of-wales-bridge-open ,
  3. Join the campaign by volunteering for the ORB Project,
  4. Tell a friend or support us on social media: @lerailbridge #savethewales
  5. Contribute to the crowd-funding campaign on generosity.com. https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/revitalization-of-prince-of-wales-bridge ,

Aileen Duncan is the author of a petition to retain public access to the Prince of Wales bridge, and recently founded the Ottawa Rail Bridge Project to advocate for a transportation strategy that includes revitalization of the bridge in the short-term. Visit http://newswest.org for updates on this article including photographs.

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