No timeline was given as repairs continue on two Parks Canada swing bridges in villages in the city of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario.
On Tuesday, Parks Canada said there was no date to reopen the Bobcaygeon or Bolsover swing bridges.
In Bobcaygeon, the swing bridge over Lock 32 of the Trent-Severn Waterway (VST) has been closed for construction since November 2020.
Plagued by delays, notably due to the COVID-19 pandemic and structural problems, the project involves rebuilding the bridge built in 1921 and located in the heart of the village.
According to Nicole Weber, Parks Canada’s senior engineer for Ontario waterways, crews are making progress but no reopening date has been set.
“Last week we put concrete on the abutment cap, which is the last piece for the bridge to close and open,” she said. “Final tests are underway.”
Area businesses say they have been impacted by the bridge closure as fewer boaters use the lock system in the area north of Lindsay.
Adam Matthews, owner of 72 Bolton sports cafe, says he and other business owners continue to search for answers about a reopening.
“We saw businesses closing on the main street, which hasn’t happened in decades in Bobcaygeon,” he said. “So obviously the bridge affects business and it will have a long-term effect on this city.”
Forty-five minutes northwest of Bolsover, the Boundary Road Swing Bridge near Lock 37 TSW has been closed and removed since January 2021. The closure removed access to the village via Simcoe Street.
Parks Canada noted in October 2021 that the project was first halted after an initial contractor “failed to complete the bridge within the required time frame.”
Then, a second construction halt occurred in November 2022 following a “limited response” to bids from contractors, including one bid that “exceeded the funding available for the project,” according to Parks Canada.
Weber says the search for a new contractor to do the work continues.
“This is where we are and the project remains on hold while we review our options moving forward,” she said.
That doesn’t sit well with some residents, including June Wilson, who lives across the street from the waterway. She believes the construction delay impacted emergency crews’ response to her husband, who died of a heart attack.
“They (the ambulance) were right on the other side of the bridge, but the bridge was out of service and they had to go around,” she said. “By the time they got there, it was too late.”
Resident Robert Amour says the bridge is the main artery for the community, its businesses and first responders. According to him, the delays have been too prolonged.
“Come on, where is the Prime Minister?” Where is the Minister of Environment and Climate Change? Take care of your country, Minister (Stephen) Guilbeault. This is completely ridiculous.
Resident Rory Freedman added: “They are completely ignoring our community. »
Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock MP Jamie Schmale says he understands the concerns of residents of both communities.
“We need to make sure that if Parks Canada can’t do this job, we bring in a department that can,” he said.
— with files from Tricia Mason/PKBNEWS Peterborough
© 2023 PKBNEWS, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.