A report on movable bridges in Wallaceburg was sent back to staff at the Monday, November 9, 2020 electronic Chatham-Kent Council meeting.
Administration had been recommending to proceed with a request for proposal (RFP) to hire a consultant to lead community consultation and an investigation through Transport Canada, under the Canadian Navigable Waters Act.
This process, which would cost an estimated $150,000, would explore options to convert the Dundas Street Bridge and the Murray Street Bridge in Wallaceburg into fixed, non-movable, structures “prior to any significant rehabilitation works on these bridges” in the future, a staff report indicates.
However, Wallaceburg Councillor Carmen McGregor entered a successful motion to refer the report back to administration.
“Until the completion of the Secondary Plan for the South Side of Wallaceburg… which (was) brought to us by Community Development and Planning Services on October 19, 2020,” McGregor said in her motion.
The motion was unanimously approved by Council.
Staff said in a report the annual lifecycle savings of approximately $1.1-million are possible if all bridges in Wallaceburg were converted to non-movable.
“These savings consist of labour and maintenance savings as the bridge will no longer require support staff and on-going repairs related to movements,” said Chris Thibert, director of engineering, in a report.
“As only the Dundas Street Bridge and the Murray Street Bridge are being considered at this time as non-movable, the lifecycle savings are conservatively estimated at $385,000 per year based on 2020 costs.”
Baseline Bridge rehabilitation and direction
Back in April of this year, a rehabilitation project for the Baseline Bridge in Wallaceburg received Council approval.
Also at the April 27, 2020 meeting, staff had recommended to explore converting the Dundas and Murray Street bridges into fixed, non-movable structures.
However, Council directed staff to setup a meeting with Transport Canada to discuss the Navigable Waters Act and how it applies to Wallaceburg and Chatham-Kent overall.
Council also directed staff that specific consultation and discussions with Walpole Island First Nation and the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority must be included in any future investigation.
Contact with Transport Canada
Thibert said in his November 9, 2020 report that administration has contacted Transport Canada to discuss the Navigable Waters Act and how it applies to Wallaceburg and Chatham-Kent overall.
“The only remaining movable bridges owned by the Municipality, five in total, reside in Wallaceburg,” Thibert said.
“To convert any of the bridges along the Sydenham River from a movable to a fixed structure requires administration to follow a process which includes close consultation with Transport Canada, in accordance with the Navigable Waters Act. This process is similar to that of a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment where the Municipality will be required to evaluate all options and present recommendations to the public that will be posted on Transport Canada’s website for comments and feedback.”
Thibert said this public consultation process will also include consultation with the following parties as mandated through the Navigable Waters Act:
– Members of the public
– Local Conservation Authorities
– Transport Canada (Navigable Waters)
– First Nations Ontario
“The approximate timelines to complete this consultation is one year,” Thibert said in his report.
“Based on the comments and feedback received, Transport Canada will provide their position either in support or against the conversion of the structure from movable to fixed. If Transport Canada is in support of this conversion, administration will proceed with a report to Council recommending the conversion of the bridges for Council’s consideration.”
Thibert added: “If Transport Canada is against this conversion, then the process halts and the Municipality will proceed to maintain the bridges as movable structures.”
Southside Secondary Plan
Council gave the green light to move forward with a secondary plan for Wallaceburg’s southside at their Monday, October 19, 2020, electronic meeting.
With the approval, a request for proposals will be issued to start the plan.
The work would be funded from planning services’ base budget for special projects and it is anticipated that the scope of work can be completed in the range of $50,000 to $75,000.
“There is demand from developers and community groups to pursue a secondary plan for the southside neighbourhood in Wallaceburg,” said Ryan Jacques, manager of planning services, in a staff report.
“Chatham-Kent owns several properties in (this) southside neighbourhood that are not providing noticeable public benefit or generating property tax revenue.”
Jacques added: “A secondary plan will promote new land uses in the area. These uses are not predetermined. However, based on years of discussion it is reasonable to assume these uses could include new residential uses, including apartments and affordable housing, commercial space for businesses, improved public access to the Sydenham River and space for public gathering.”
Jacques said a secondary plan will “encourage incremental and organic transition” of new land uses over time.
“Through the reinvestment in the neighbourhood by an array of stakeholders from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors,” Jacques said in his report.
“This change will lead to the revitalization of the neighbourhood. Neighbourhood revitalization will benefit adjacent neighbourhoods and the entire community.”
Jacques said the proposed area to be included in the secondary plan for the southside of Wallaceburg includes lands south of the Sydenham River, west of Murray Street, north of the railway corridor, and east of Herbert Street, and lands south of King Street and east of Minnie Street.
See the map below:
A staff report indicates the RFP will be issued this year, with the consultant selection and project start-up occurring early next year.
A final plan is set to be considered by Council by end of summer in 2021.