A petition signed by 255 users has changed the mind of city council on what to do about the Coteau Street Bridge.
City council approved the demolition of the bridge in the 2021 budget with CN Railway cost-sharing the price tag. By a vote of 4-3, council approved going back to CN Railway to see if there are any options to save the bridge.
Philip Siggelkow presented the petition to city council as a user of the bridge, asking city council to reconsider its decision to demolish the bridge that connects landowners to the Church of God and Wakamow Valley trails over the CN Railway tracks.
“Well, there were different people that worked on it, but for me, I did two things. I put a sign by the bridge with a sign-up sheet and people who use the bridge would just stop and sign,” Siggelkow told city council.
“I also had a sign-up sheet in the Church of God campus building for people who use the building and that was my primary source.”
This is not the first time citizens have come to city council pleading to save the Coteau Street Bridge. Doug Reichel came to city council on Sept. 27 to request the bridge be refurbished to a pedestrian-only bridge. That request was denied with only councillors Crystal Froese and Doug Blanc voting in favour of saving the bridge.
A 2020 engineering report showed that the decades-old bridge has come to the end of its life cycle. The cost would be $150,000, which CN Railway has agreed to cost-share with the city.
The report says it would cost $1 million or more to build a new bridge.
The report added that the bridge could be viable until 2025 with regular inspections from the city.
Coun. Dawn Luhning was frustrated as the bridge has come up in discussions in 2009, 2010, 2019 and now in 2021, and no new information has come forward and yet no progress is being made.
“The issue I have with the bridge is it's not safe. I don't know how much longer we're going to wait to make a decision on this, and I'm going to reiterate again that nobody said a word about this when it came and was approved in the 2020 budget,” Luhning said.
Opposed to the motion to go back to the table with CN to find a solution for the bridge were councillors Luhning, Heather Eby and Jamey Logan.
After the vote, City Manager Jim Puffalt informed city council that there is a liability issue and said the city would inspect the bridge right away.
Fearing liability, Luhning put forward a motion to have the bridge closed to pedestrians and vehicular immediately.
Coun. Kim Robinson was a councillor who had his mind changed and completely disagreed with Luhning.
“We can continue on destroying all these things and maybe one day we'll have the trolley go downtown and say this is River Street, it used to be beautiful and over here is Crescent Park, it was wonderful one day and up here on Coteau Street there used to be a bridge there. So, we can keep doing that, but I don't think it's in anybody's interest,” Robinson said.
That motion was defeated with councillors Robinson, Froese, Blanc and Mayor Tolley opposed.
Below is Siggelkow’s presentation to city council: