KINGSTON – A monumental decision 5 decades in the making.
Cell phone cameras were held high in the crowd to capture the historic moment at city hall…. as council voted 8-5 in favour of the third bridge crossing.
…touted as Kingston’s biggest ever infrastructure project.
Ryan Boehme/City Councillor:
“I don’t think there’s anything else that will have this much of an impact connecting the city.”
But getting to the final vote was not easy… it took more than 10 hours of meetings, spanning 2 days, 14 delegations and 4 staff briefings.
Adam Candon/City Councillor:
“It got to the point towards the end where it was like we were beating a dead horse but all the work’s been done.”
Before the historic vote, councillors took turns speaking for and against the bridge… in a marathon debate.
Rob Hutchison/City Councillor:
“If you still want to vote for it. That’s your business. Don’t tell them there’s no tax increase. It turns up because the levy is extended.”
Laura Turner/City Councillor:
“I can’t sit here as a councillor and say that I can go home and sleep at night if I can’t support the bridge and can’t support emergency services and to think that someone can’t pick up the phone and can’t get service right away because of a blockage on the causeway or the 401.”
But even bridge opponents saw the writing on the wall… in a city where car users outnumber the non-car citizens…. and say they’ll make the best of it..
Peter Stroud/City Councillor:
“Increase pedestrian areas. Divert traffic further. Have more promenades. You know the Princess St Promendade. Encourage economic activity in the downtown by prioritizing the pedestrian even further.”
Much of the ‘yes’ vote was based on the advice of staff and emergency services… who say the bridge will also promote active transportation … and a faster medical response.
Paul Charbonneau/Chief of Paramedics:
“We know the causeway will continue to need repairs. We know the 401 will continue to have accidents. And I’m sure the third crossing will be a problem as well because there will be accidents as well but at least we have 3 maybe 4 options to get people to the hospital when we need to.”
With the decision made, the mayor made it clear that no construction can start without a 60 million dollar grant from the feds… to match the funding announced by the province earlier in the week.
Bryan Paterson/Kingston Mayor:
“We’re still going to need the federal funding, that’s the last piece that has to happen. Even though we voted in favour of the project, in order to not to raise property taxes we need the federal government to come to the table so that’s that key piece ahead.”
“The mayor says he’s optimistic the federal government will chip in their third of the 180-million dollar price tag.
If all goes well, construction of the one kilometre span over the Cataraqui river — joining John Counter Blvd to Gore road on the eastern shore could could begin in 2 years.”