Whitevale bridge project to go ahead

PICKERING — Plans for replacing the Whitevale bridge will move forward despite requests from residents to delay approval of funding for the project.

“This is a massively expensive initiative for a bridge for less than 100 families,” said Whitevale resident Julie Schembri during a council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

“I know it’s easy to say you can approve $2.4 million and not spend it all but is that really how you want to approve a budget?”

Ms. Schembri said the community mainly wanted a bridge smaller in width than the one proposed.

“It’s a functional structure that allows villagers to cross from one side of West Duffins Creek to the other,” she said. “It was never ostentatious and no one is saying it should be now. There are so many variables and so many unanswered questions.”

Several councillors expressed concern about delaying replacement of the bridge, which was restricted to one lane in 2008.

During questioning from councillors, staff said deleting or reducing the total would not affect the tax rate since the project was funded through gas tax funds, and that removing funding could delay the project.

“It would be my recommendation that the amount remain in the budget,” said Richard Holborn, head of engineering services, noting it would allow staff to continue working towards beginning construction in 2013.

A motion by Councillor Peter Rodrigues to delete the $2.4 million from the 2012 budget was defeated by council.

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