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Centre Wellington council to reconsider pending Middlebrook Bridge closure

A 4-2 vote to reconsider the motion was done at Monday’s meeting
Screenshot 2021-11-23 9.58.28 AM
Council discusses the reconsideration of the Middlebrook bridge motion from Oct. 18 council meeting.

CENTRE WELLINGTON - A bridge shared with a neighbourhouring township may be rehabilitated after all.

During its Monday meeting, council voted 4-2 to reconsider previously approved plans that would see Middlebrook Place bridge removed. This does not mean, however, that council will change its decision, it's now open to reviewing alternative steps for the bridge other than removal. 

That reconsideration outcome will be discussed at a later date as council is still caught up in discussions with the neighbouring township.

Last year, council approved removal work on the bridge – something Woolwich Township officials also want to see. The bridge's ownership is shared between the two municipalities.

Coun. Neil Dunsmore and Mayor Kelly Linton were not in favour of reconsideration, stating they believe the bridge is not worth spending money on to rehabilitate; councillors Ian MacRae and Steven Vanleeuwen agree but want to reconsider only if there are new information presented.

Meanwhile, councillors Kirk McElwain and Bob Foster were in favour of reconsidering, noting the importance of the heritage of the bridge and the cycle tourism it brings to the Centre Wellington community, as well as the fact that it costs less to keep the bridge rather than demolish it. 

Coun. Stephen Kitras was not present during this agenda item. 

Linton noted that the same council is asking for more money to put in a bridge that falls outside of the township’s priority list for bridge rehabilitation projects.

Adam Gilmore, manager of engineering, presented a supplementary information report on high-level costing of alternatives from municipal class environmental assessment study for the Middlebrook Bridge. 

The report was classified as an information item on the agenda and was discussed by council after the reconsideration vote. 

The purpose of the report is to provide some additional clarity related to the information presented in the 2020 Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA) and to update township council on other items related to the Middlebrook Steel Truss Bridge plans. 

Gilmore also explained that each piece of infrastructure has a different life cycle, which means that every bridge differs in cost with capital and maintenance schedules. 

As outlined in the report, comparing the 2020 MCEA Study lifecycle cost of the removal of the bridge without replacement would cost around $550,000; to rehabilitate the bridge for pedestrian or cyclist use is around $1.6 million; and to replace the bridge for pedestrian use would be around $1.2 million. 

However, the staff have been working with the Township of Woolwich through the capital budget process to update the cost of removal and staff have since then updated the cost of removal to $720,000. 

“The way we budgeted that with our current budget is that that cost is shared between us and Woolwich,” said Gilmore. 

“In the year 2028, in the proposed 2022 budget, we’ve got $360,000 for the township share in removing the bridge in 2028.”

Linton reiterated that the share of the township in removing the bridge is only $360,000; to rehabilitate the bridge, the township would have to pay $1.6 million.

“If we’re thinking of rehabilitating the bridge, we might have to cover 100 per cent of the cost as Woolwich does not want to rehabilitate at this time,” explained Gilmore. 

“The cost to replace the bridge would be $1.2 million for the township. There’s a difference of $1.24 million if we were to rehabilitate the bridge, and a difference of $850,000 if we’re going to replace it.”

McElwain and Dunsmore suggested bringing back the reconsideration motion to Woolwich as they believe it’s important to include them in the process. 

“I think councillors are asking to direct staff to get information on what Woolwich’s intent with the bridge–whether they're going to agree in rehabilitating the bridge or not; if they’re are going to reconsider, look at rehabilitation, share the costs then the bridge may be saved; but if they are not, then we have our answer and we’ll return back to the table with clearer numbers,” said Linton. 

All were in favour of directing staff in asking Woolwich on their intent with the bridge, except for Mayor Linton. 

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