While I agree with several points raised by Michael Gilbert in his Dec. 12 letter (Downtown business owner calls out ‘agenda-driven’ councillors), some clarification is necessary. Council has been reviewing the Fifth Street Bridge for many years. Coun. Theos suggested a new structure, but the former city engineer Leslie Hatch correctly pointed out that it would be irresponsible of her to endorse replacing a bridge with a 35-year life span remaining. As well, even a new bridge requires ongoing maintenance, and as Mayor Wells indicates in his Dec. 19 response (Mayor responds to business owner’s letter regarding Fifth Street Bridge), the city has proactively and responsibly adopted an asset management program.
The cantilevers are an unnecessary expense. The statistics provided at the open house of 500 cyclists daily utilizing the bridge are bogus. There would be greater support for cyclists if most of them obeyed the rules of the road.
Since council authorizes a large percentage of RCMP funding, the mayor should promote increased traffic control – whether it’s vehicles running stop signs or not having headlights, running lights or turn signals operable or cyclists not wearing helmets, not being lit at night, riding on sidewalks and opposite to the flow of traffic, or not dismounting when crossing the bridge in the pedestrian walkways. I agree with Mr. Gilbert about the personal agenda of the majority of councillors.
Please also note that in his letter of Dec. 19 (Former councillor says bridge numbers don’t add up), Erik Erikson, who was a city councillor during the previous term and then contested for the mayor’s seat, had ample opportunity to raise his issues and seek clarification from staff during the debates.
The continued procrastination in renovating the Fifth Street Bridge will only increase the costs and should be commenced as soon as possible.